The opinions in this review are the result of completing all main and side missions in the campaign along with a little exploring. I played Deus Ex: Mankind Divided on Xbox One with all available patches installed.
By the time the credits rolled on the main story in 2011’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution (DE:HR) I knew I was all-in for a sequel that I immediately felt was inevitable. This was a bit of a shock to me because even though I enjoyed pretty much every piece of dialogue and corporate intrigue that 2011’s prequel had to offer, I still felt that there was a lot of room to improve in terms of gameplay.
During my time with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (DE:MD), it is clear that a lot of improvements have been made and whilst there is no aspect of the game that I feel has gotten worse, there are a couple of areas that I feel come up a little short.
Lets backtrack a little here, the games in the Deus Ex series are cyberpunk-themed action role-playing games set in a dark, dystopian future that combine first-person-shooter, stealth and role-playing elements. They are developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix.
Before you start the game proper, you’re given the option to watch a “previously on Deus Ex” video that recaps the entire story from DE:HR. The clip is actually pretty lengthy at just over 10 minutes and I highly recommended watching it whether you’ve played that game or not as it does a very good job at condensing the goings-on in the story up until this point.
Once again you play as Adam Jensen, an augmented (improved/kept alive by cybernetics) former private security officer that since the events of DE:HR is now working with Interpol to capture a terrorist group of augmented humans. Whilst doing this he is secretly working for the Juggernaut collective, a hacker group helping him to confront the Illuminati, a shadow group of individuals seeking to control the flow of information and therefore, the general public.
The first mission does something very clever, like many sequels where you have spent the entire previous game levelling up your character and earning techniques you are given control of all of your upgrades to use as you wish. This isn’t clever in itself as it’s been done many times in the past in titles such as the God of War series. What is clever about it though is that even though this mission does teach you the basics of the stealth and combat mechanics, it doesn’t teach you about all the abilities you have at your disposal, such as temporary invisibility, the ability to breathe in toxic gas and also the ability to fall incredible distances and land safely in an orb of lightning, for fans of Human Revolution, yes, this still looks and feels cool as hell! This only-slightly-guided approach means you could set your ability load-out the way you liked in DE:HR and be on your merry way, or you can stick to the basics and get comfortable during the mission or you can experiment with a combination of the two approaches as both are catered for in terms of the level design.
Like any game that gives you everything upfront, there is of course something that occurs very early on in the story that will rudely remove access to these powers. That is, of course, until you level up some.
Mankind Divided is a stealth game, first and foremost. Whilst you are provided with various lethal and non-lethal weapons to deal with your enemies, the controls in DE:HR never felt responsive enough to me to be able to take the gung-ho first-person-shooter approach. The basics of the controls were there, left-trigger aims down sights and right-trigger shoots, but there was something about the “feel” that was off.
Unfortunately this is one of those areas that needs improvement that I mentioned. The game controls perfectly fine during slower paced, stealth-oriented sequences but the moment the shit hits the fan there are few alternatives other than to shoot your way out and for me at least, the controls aren’t responsive enough for this to be a viable course of action. Personally, this didn’t affect me all that much because on the few occasions I did balls everything up I just re-loaded a save, gotta get that perfect stealth rating!
In between main missions you have free-reign of a number of districts in the city to explore, hack, climb, vent-crawl and collect items to prepare for the next mission. There are also some optional side missions you can carry out but be careful, these can disappear if you progress the main story to the point that the characters involved are no longer relevant or useful.
It’s these open-world segments that bring me to the last of my issues with the game, performance. On Xbox One at least, if you’re running around the open-world city areas you will find that the game hitches and stops for about half a second, understandable as it’s constantly loading a very large area but whilst running these hitches can happen once every 3-4 seconds. Not game-breaking by any stretch but it can certainly pull you out of the illusion if you like to fully engross yourself into a game’s universe.
To be fair I should state that I had zero performance issues during regular play of the game other than sprinting in the open-world areas, small issues like these can and are often fixed or at least improved in patches and updates post-launch.
So if you’re someone that played and enjoyed Human Revolution I heartily recommend Mankind Divided. It retains everything that was great about DE:HR and adds more intrigue to the mix. Also, if you haven’t played a Deus Ex game before and are looking for a good story to sink your teeth into you’ll find a brilliant yet bleak world to engross yourself in.
If you’re looking for a tightly-contructed first-person-shooter experience such as Call of Duty though, this might not be for you.
For people that are looking for a bit of cyber-punk, stealthiness, dragging bodies into shadows and crawling through vents as a cyber-enchanced super agent however, I think you might have just found your next game.