I have a confession to make, I absolutely love cyberpunk. My favorite anime is Ghost in the Shell, one of my favorite movies is Blade Runner and one of my favorite game series is Deus Ex. So while I’m talking about this game I will have both a bit of bias and a little more criticizing for the new one, Deus Ex Mankind Divided.
Deus Ex in its heart has always been a story driven fps with an inventory system and various augmented powers that the main character has access to all the while unlocking new ones as they progress through the game. That is where the new iteration really shines, the gameplay. Eidos Montreal might have scaled back on the map size but what they lose in size they more than make up for in details and that includes various routes that a player can take. In Deus Ex, the big draw of the game has always been the player gets to play how they want. If you want to sneak around, hack locks and walk through vents to get to your objective then you can. If you feel like you want to go guns blazing and kill all that oppose you that is your prerogative as well. That goes for the bosses as well. You can silently knock them out, lay traps to get them to kill themselves, take over bots that will kill them or take them down with your own two hands. The choices you can make is what makes the Deus Ex series one of the best.
In DE:MD, you have various weapons that allow you to get your objectives done; lethal vs non-lethal and close quarters vs long range. On top of that you have some of the base augmentations from Human Revolution and seven new ones including a nano-ceramic blade, a protective nanoshield, a time slowing system and an electric shock bolts system that is attached to your fist. These add new dynamics to the options you have while playing the game.
Other than those features Deus Ex is a run of the mill FPS in that you run around completing objectives to different missions but those augmentations and the different paths is what makes the game lots of fun. Pulling up your vision Aug to look through a wall to see two guards on the other side, proceeding to cloak and then shooting one and quickly turning to knock another out with your finisher is a lot of fun. All during the games (especially the late stages) I felt like a super powered James Bond as I traversed around the different areas. The gameplay is truly where this game shines and makes you want to come back and play a 2nd time just to experience it differently even if you just put 30 hours into your first run.
Mankind Divided follows the continuing story of Adam Jensen after the events at Panchaea and the “Aug incident” in which everyone with augmentations had a switch flipped that saw millions killed and many more injured and created a huge divide in humanity. The idea now was not that Augments helped humans improve themselves but a lot saw it as a threat to humanity as a whole and thus began the “Mechanical Apartheid”. Those that were augmented were separated from society and looked down upon. Augmented couldn’t get jobs and they were seen as lesser humans and thus slum cities like Mankind Divided’s Golem City was formed where the state police could be in power over augs and so that the augmented wouldn’t be seen by other “Naturals”. Having written this review about a week and a half after the game launched I’ve been able to see a lot of others thoughts on whether “politics” (yes I put that in quotes) should be welcome into a game like Deus Ex. As long as it doesn’t feel forced and makes sense in a narrative setting why not? The idea that augs killed millions of humans would scare any government into forcing those out and separating them from the rest of society. It, unfortunately, feels like a proper result of an incident that left millions dead.
Adam is playing a double agent in which he is a part of a special task force in INTERPOL called TF29 in which he is investigating the bombing that occurred at a main train station in Prague all the while he is also an agent of the Juggernaut Collective, a group of global hacktivists that are dedicated to discovering the identities of the Illuminati, yes that is the name of the secret group, and fighting them to not let them control society. Though the focus of the story is better in Mankind Divided the amount of conspiracies from local all the way up to corporate feels excessive. Also I feel like Mankind Divided suffered from too many trailers syndrome. Everything you needed to know about the story, the main events, the main plot points, the main bad guy, was all revealed in the trailer leaving very little in the game itself. The only big plot twist didn’t happen until during the credits which allows for a bit of speculation for the next game is kind of sad that it took that long to reveal something you might not have known from watching the trailers. If you were one of the lucky few that haven’t seen anything about the game, I envy you.
Another strong point of Mankind Divided was the characters, at least the major ones. All of the major characters felt like they had a personality. If you were to ask me to describe each character I would be able to give you various character traits that were clearly established. Now that said a lot of the minor story characters all felt incredibly bland. It was surprising how much level of detail went into the major characters personalities but the minor ones just seemed like a couple notes on a piece of paper.
Although Mankind Divided has a smaller map size and not as many locations as Human Revolution the amount of detail, both graphically and aesthetically, is much greater. Now that also is due in part to Eidos’ new engine, Dawn Engine. Every building, every location felt very unique and well designed. There were little details everywhere that we haven’t seen much until the more recent powerhouse engines we are beginning to see. The graphics are also equally impressive in that this is one of the first games (VR excluded) that pushed my 780Ti to its limits for 1080p 60fps. I had to turn off MSAA and only had the graphics options on high, looks like it is time to upgrade to the 1080Ti later.
The audio is also fantastic which included a great soundtrack. Each area had its own ambient song that fit the location perfectly. An upscale more quiet classical for Prague during the day, a harder techno for the red light district Prague during the night and a sad kind of depressing song for Golem city. Eidos also did a fine job with the voice acting in which a lot of characters actually sound like they were from where they were originally born or lived.
Overall Deus Ex Mankind Divided is a fantastic game that excels in most points including graphics, sound, gameplay and performance however it falls a little flat on its face from over excessiveness in its stories and bland minor characters. Now there is one complaint about the port in that Nixxes (the pc port developer) left in mouse acceleration and the only way to disable it is to mess with windows registry keys and though I got used to it by changing some of my mouse DPI settings I know others were not able to. Also another friend was having graphics textures not loading though that seems to be a somewhat rare occurrence and Nixxes was working on a fix for that.