At the start of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the player can choose to view a 12 minute recap video which offers the entire, rather silly, nature of the story within the franchise. Largely a synopsis events from the previous console entry, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the video gives the kind of, sort of, necessary background information one will want before embarking on the new game which picks up the tale of Adam Jensen two years after Human Revolution.
The impressive thing about the title is this – while it never moves past the foolish facts of this story, one which involves “augmented” humans (people with various mechanical bits and pieces) fighting for their spot in a world which despises them (why? see that 12 minute video or be told over and over in the game itself), it just doesn’t matter. No, the gameplay more than makes up for the story being more than a little silly. In fact, the gameplay is so incredibly involving that you’ll actually get into the story.
Now that I have said that, I will point out that the user’s mileage will vary in terms of the story. Mankind Divided is, very consciously, building the mythology around the Deus Ex franchise. There is an intricate web of groups the player meets, and shifting/hidden allegiances. While I don’t care for the specifics of the dystopia the game presents, there is something truly enjoyable in the way in which it pursues the dystopia. Like everything else in in the title, it goes for it with gusto.
Make no mistake, the main gameplay/story mode in Mankind Divided, is an involved affair, and it is involved across the board, not just with its story. It is well thought out, well presented, and exciting… even if the story seems off.
First and foremost, the game is big. Mankind Divided takes hours upon hours to plow through, with plenty of optional side missions to keep one well occupied.
The game’s leveling system is, like its predecessor well executed. Earning enough XP translates to getting a point which can be used to upgrade one of Jensen’s exceptionally varied abilities. There is even an in-game reason given for Jensen losing some of the skills he had in the previous title, which is a better way of resetting a character than the route chosen by some other franchises.
Beyond that, the upgrades chosen work into the way the player proceeds in the game itself. Missions have multiple routes via which success can be achieved. Some of these courses are impossible to pursue without the appropriate upgrades. Rather than this becoming an annoyance, it actually inspires the desire to replay the game or even to run two single player games simultaneously, varying upgrades across the games so as to be able to pursue different paths.
The cover mechanic, the iteration of which I found weak in Human Revolution, feels better here, turning into one of the better aspects of the game. A push of a button throws Jensen into cover mode and looking around at that point will offer up a dotted line showing where Jensen can head with another button press. Sneaking up on people becomes an exhilarating, nuanced, experience.
The varied weapons, great upgrades, large world, diverse weapons, cover mechanic, etc. make for an incredibly enjoyable experience. It in the simplest terms, it is a joy to run, walk, crawl, and skulk through the various locations provided in the game. It is thrilling to find the various secrets, hack computers, and continually improve Jensen’s skills/weapons.
The graphics are solid, although lips do not seem to move in time with spoken words during cutscenes. The game doesn’t seem to have the same issues jumping between cutscenes and gameplay that plagued its predecessor.
It should also be noted that mastering the control scheme devised for the game takes time (other schemes, like one more similar to Human Revolution are available). It is not intuitive by any means, and there are enough different things that have to be done in the game, especially during a firefight, that it can be cumbersome. Fortunately, entering the menu system does cause a pause in the action so that everything can be sorted out before the player is blown away.
In the final summation, although there are a couple of issues with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, they are more of the minor variety. It is a great game and well worth the 5 years between this entry and Human Revolution.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol. This game can also be found on: Xbox One and Windows PC.