A lot has changed in the sixteen years since the Deus Ex made it’s debut. Games like Metal Gear Solid and Dishonored have taken the idea of player choice and stealth to new heights and it’s becoming even harder to stand out in the crowded genre. Hail to the kind baby. Not only does Deus Ex: Mankind Divided live up to the storied legacy it’s predecessor’s have set for it, it learns from the competition and tweaks several mechanics that desperately needed it in the modern age. Mankind Divided isn’t just a great Deus Ex game; it’s one of the most tense and fun adventures you’ll go on.
Mankind Divided picks up after the events of the 2011’s Human Revolution, which finds the world not trusting “Augs” or people who have been grafted with computer parts for extra abilities following an incident were they were manipulated into becoming violent. The game once again stars aug and sunglasses model Adam Jensen, who is now a member of a group investigating terrorist attacks in Prague. It’s not long before one happens and the augmented are implemented in the attack and it’s up to Jensen to uncover the truth while navigating an uneasy world where he is viewed as a threat. Mankind Divided makes no bones about the fact that is uses it’s in game events to talk about modern day racism and terrorism but I never I felt like it was too preachy or let it’s message get in the way of it’s story.
If you played Human Revolution, Mankind Divided will feel very familiar to you, and that’s a very good thing. Most of the core mechanics from the critically acclaimed game return; you’re given a goal and not really told how to accomplish it but given the freedom to do so however you see fit. One early goal for instance had you bypassing a security force to retrieve evidence from a terrorist attack that’s being kept under wraps; you could go in there and attempt to shoot your way through but how would that look in a world that distrusts your kind every day? Do you sneak your way in; going the non lethal route or do you try to work out a deal with a guard who you find may sympathize with your kind? There’s no wrong answer here and each way you may try is a whole lot of fun.
A lot of that fun is from how well laid out and realized the virtual world of Prague is. I know in an age of Youtube and Let’s Play videos it’s so easy to find a solution to a section in a game but don’t. Don’t buy a strategy guide, don’t look up where to find things. Mankind Divided is at it’s best when you allow yourself to experience and discover everything it has to offer in the organic way you were supposed to. Sneaking around and finding an air duct to crawl through that leads you right to your goal or even opens up an entirely new part of the story feels so damn rewarding and the game is filled with moments like these little things to discover. My best moments in Deus Ex were when I allowed myself to find a solution that seemingly wasn’t immediately available to me and it went a long way in making me feel like a cybernetic badass.
If that feeling of organic discovery and choice is the heartbeat of Mankind Divided; then the augmented abilities you can unlock and use are the backbone. Like in previous games you can use different augmented abilities like temporary cloaking, remotely hacking devices, the ability to slow down time and much more. Most of the abilities are from previous games but there are a few new ones but the biggest addition is the icarus dash, which let’s Jensen dash between short distances, helping avoid detection or moving around enemies quickly in combat. Much like the core experience, organically finding out how to best combine and use these abilities to achieve your goal. In one section I used the remote hacking ability to unlock a door on a higher level, then used the Icarus Dash to get up there, allowing me to find a whole new pathway that I never would have known existed. Protip: experiment with the remote hacking ability any chance you can.
By far though, the biggest addition to the Deus Ex formula are the completely revamped cover and combat systems. The cover system allows you to be much more strategic in your movements; take cover against one surface and then moving the camera will show each of your options of where you can move. It’s a simple but effective system that much like most of the game, allows for a lot of choice in movement. The new combat system is similarly simple and allows you to choose between taking enemies out with a lethal or non lethal approach much like more modern day stealth games.
It was nearly impossible for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided to live up to it’s most recent predecessor, Human Revolution but somehow it does, and then some. While smaller in scale and scope, Mankind Divided delivers the same superbly designed choice and stealth driven gameplay to the next generation of hardware. If you have any interest in either of those genres or the previous Deus Ex Games, don’t hesitate as Mankind Divided lives up to the hype.
- Open ended gameplay
- Fun new tech abilities
- Smart AI
- Story feels smaller than in previous games
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