I played the original Deus Ex back on the PlayStation 2 in 2002, so although I can’t say I’ve always been a fan (it was on PC in 2000), I’ve certainly been a fan from early on. Cyberpunk with a huge dose of intrigue and conspiracy, it had a huge effect on me and the media I would later gravitate towards. I replayed and wrote about it as part of a Deus Ex Diaries series right here, though when Windows 10 borked the second game, I had to stop the series…
Deus Ex Mankind Divided is the fourth main game in the series, and sees you returning to Human Revolution's protagonist, Adam Jensen. It doesn’t break the formula of being a first-person game full of intrigue, but seeing as the last game (the aforementioned) is regarded as the best game in the series, Eidos-Montréal would have had to turn it into a trading card game to upset fans. Building on Human Revolution was the obvious way to go -- it’s in the Top 30 First Person Games on PC, on Metacritic.
One thing that people liked about the original game, and was added into the Director’s Cut of Human Revolution, was that you can play non-lethally. It makes a return to the series from the opening mission -- if you don’t want to kill anyone in the game, you can do exactly that. Though some people may claim you killed people..
Staying on the subject of the first Deus Ex, people questioned why the world of the last game was so bright, yet the original was so dingy despite being in the future of the series. After the events of Human Revolution, the idealism present throughout that game has been shattered by the canon ending. Despite Jensen’s efforts, everyone with an augmentation went nuts and loads of people were killed across the world, and he was dumped into the arctic ocean when Panchaea exploded.
After the opening mission (which is very reminiscent of Spec Ops: The Line -- an abandoned hotel in Dubai with a sandstorm), you return to your home in Prague. This is the main hub (there’s a mini hub later), which has Jensen’s apartment, the Interpol office you’re based out of, and it’s pretty damn big… The world that greets you is leaps and bounds away from Detroit in Human Revolution. Anyone with augments is called a Clank and treated like a second class citizen. Police checkpoints and separate entrances/exits for Naturals and Augs are scattered about the place… It’s a very well constructed environment, and makes you feel really uneasy, playing a character who is over 50% alloy and carbon fibre.
In between taking care of the main missions, you may discover side missions that you can complete. Not all of them are obviously marked! And if you thought you had to make a lot of choices in a Telltale game, you’ll be surprised by Mankind Divided. You can choose to do the side missions, then you can choose how to do them, or whether to continue them. Whilst doing them, you may get into a dialogue, and have to choose how to answer people, or even whether to answer them! You decisions may get you into a firefight, or find you a new friend (or “friend”) -- I don’t think I have space in a review to replay multiple times to discover all of the different choices you can encounter. I read that there are about the same amount of lines of dialogue in this as there are in both Baldur’s Gate games, which is a huge number.
Should you get into a firefight (because accidents happen), then you have access to different ammunition types and weapon modifications that you can alter on the fly. You can reload your weapon to use EMP ammo, shoot a drone to disable it, then reload to normal ammo for the approaching guards whilst removing your laser sight, for instance.
However, if you load Jensen out for stealth, make sure you avoid confrontations. They can escalate incredibly quickly, and that “one tranq and sneak past” can quickly turn into a twenty minute firefight... The AI reacts quite well, usually firing a few shots before going for reinforcements -- then travelling in teams so you can’t get the jump on a single person. They will swarm over your last known location quite efficiently in their efforts to end you.
The maps in Mankind Divided are quite impressive. The hub of Prague isn’t the biggest map ever seen, but for the amount of detail in the game it’s really quite impressive. You have access to both sides via metro: the upper and lower sides. People don’t really like Clanks in the upper class side… As well as the street level you can access the sewers, and most of the buildings you can enter have multiple levels -- the Palisades bank has multiple sublevels, and each one has a number of NPCs and guards, plus it looks fantastic.
In fact, the entire game looks beautiful. Even in the run down areas, Mankind Divided is very detailed, and the characters are wonderfully crafted. That’s why it’s so jarring to see some textures -- such as street posters -- that are really quite ugly when you get too close. That’s probably down to this being the console version, though. When I’ve played some games, even ones like Rocket League, the PS4 fans spin up really fast if the level of detail gets too high. This has no problem showing lots of characters on the streets of Prague at the same time, having conversations and walking around.
The levels are tall and broad, so if you’d rather avoid those laser sensors, you can just find a way over or around them. Occasionally I would go off in a random direction, thinking I was outsmarting the game, when that was probably the easiest of four ways into the next area. Human Revolution had multiple entry points, but Eidos Montréal seem to have put extra effort into thinking up ways to move in Mankind Divided.
I’ll keep saying it -- the levels are huge, and yet I can count on one hand the amount of times I noticed a transition, and that’s mainly because an elevator took a moment too long to travel however far it was going.
One thing I couldn’t really explore (as it’s pre-release they’re not active) is a link to the PlayStation Network, to buy something. Two things, in fact, Jensen’s Stories & Gear. Jensen’s Stories has a heading on the main screen when you load the game, along with Main Story and Breach. I assume it’s the cutscenes from Human Revolution that you can watch, or something along those lines. Gear is probably related to getting items for Breach, the arcade pseudo-online mode. Though there is a premium currency called Chipsets...
Played exactly like the main game, Breach is basically a series of puzzle levels. You are a virtual avatar (that looks pretty cool, honestly) and have to locate nodes to steal data from. Once you gather enough, you need to get back to the entrance without dying, or the timer expiring. There are also Darknet files, which are special missions. The nodes are optional, and you have to collect loose data fragments.
In either type of level there are security programs in the form of turrets and AI avatars trying to stop you. Sometimes they patrol, other levels have them on alert from the off. Of course, you can take along weapons and augmentations to protect yourself.
You can only change weapons and augments before the levels, and you can only have a certain amount of them to stop you being too overpowered. As you unlock more, you might want to go back and retry levels for a better time and higher score, giving it some replayability.
Weapons and items are unlocked through booster packs which come in grades, from C being common to S being very rare: they might contain awesome weapons, or simple health packs. You can also obtain cheat modifiers, so if you’re having trouble with a level you can just apply a few cheats (faster movement, higher HP…) to give you a hand up -- but they are one time use only.
I called it pseudo-online, because it needs to connect to the Square Enix servers, and it allows you to challenge other people to beat your time or score. Before you exit the results screen, pick a friend or go for a stranger with a similar level to you, and send the challenge. If they win, you pay them -- but if you win, you get a Challenge Pack! If they refuse, or time out, you get a Backup Pack, which is like a Challenge Pack, but has less impressive items in it.
If someone sends you a challenge and you win, you again get a Challenge Pack, but if you fail three times you get a Backup Pack. You can send three challenges per day, but if you really want to do more you can always use a Firewall Key. You can buy additional Firewall Keys through the Shop for 50,000 credits or 20 Chipsets, or collect 10 fragments for doing well in levels.
The one complaint that I can see people making against Mankind Divided, is that it is incredibly similar to Human Revolution, with new augmentations an extra mode added on. I’d be remiss if I didn’t make it clear that it is very similar, down to reusing some of the animations for things such as takedowns (which still cut to a third-person camera before slipping back into first), and hacking is pretty much just a reskin.
However, I refuse to see that as a negative. Human Revolution was a fantastic game, and having a better version of that is just great. Eidos Montréal have refined every aspect, and made this into a game that fans will love all over again. If you didn’t like any of the other titles in the series, then there’s unfortunately nothing here that will change your mind.
If you do most of the side missions, and rush through the main ones, you’re looking at roughly 40 hours of playtime. Then you open up New Game+, there are also multiple endings and, of course, the Breach mode. It’s a decent addition, and the Challenges will add a lot of replayability, if the leaderboards don’t do it for you. I was in the Top 5 for most of the levels I played, and first on at least one! Admittedly, a lot of them only had three other players... It is quite a difficult mode.
Speaking of which, there are four difficulty modes. If you love playing games on Survival mode, then you’ll want to unlock the I Never Asked For This mode, which gives you one life. No save points, no restarting: you die, game over. Of course, there’s also the Tell Me A Story mode for those seeking the Easy option (like me), Give Me A Challenge (apparently “how the game is meant to be played”) and Give Me Deus Ex for a tougher challenge. I’m pretty sure Mankind Divided has a mode to appeal to most gamers.
Honestly, I was worried about a few issues, whilst writing this. However, the Day One patch sorted out the frame rate issues I was experiencing as well as the noticeable lip sync problems. It is as long as it should be, fun to play with tons of replayability, and has drop dead gorgeous graphics.
Mankind Divided is a wonderful, powerful game and a great addition to the Deus Ex mythos with rich, fully built characters and an amazingly immersive world. If it wasn’t for the many missteps that the marketing department took, you would probably have preordered this already.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
Outstanding. Why do you not have this game already?
A great addition to the Deus Ex mythos, and more than just a better looking Human Revolution. If you’re a fan of the series, or even just the last one, then you can’t go wrong with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.