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Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Review: Augmented Reality

By: Derek Strickland | Action in Gaming | Posted: Sep 5, 2016 6:34 pm
TweakTown Rating: 93%Developer and / or Publisher: Eidos Montreal

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Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is one of the most meaningful games I've played this year, and possibly in the last five years. The game really had an impact on me, and the deeper I dug into its dystopian cyberpunk universe, the more impressed i was at Eidos' sheer level of dedication. The studio has crafted a gorgeous and grim look at a broken future, a future that reflects our current world and tumultuous periods in history that resonate strongly with our very existence on this planet.

 

The story arc is just as impressive as Human Revolution, but Mankind Divided tells a different kind of story--it's a more intimate human story, one that's tinged with despair and suffering but also a loud wake up call to our high-tech age. It's a story about technology gone wrong, about the wonders of the future being used as blunt objects to divide humanity right down the middle.

 

 

But it's more than just a story you watch; it's a story you take part in. As the player you have an impact on this world; while you won't change it overnight, you genuinely feel like you're a part of this universe and that you are Adam Jensen.

 

Decisions you make have an impact on the people in this world, but the people don't always have to be right in front of you to have an impact on you: Eidos has stuffed computers, tablets, PDAs and terminals full of human strife and drama that fleshes out the world and its characters.

 

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The story and its message are powerful, and it resonates strongly with human nature and our struggle on this planet. The message is broadcast on a universal frequency that transcends the language or cultural barrier, for it's the frequency of human strife, a tale of caution amid our technological advancements. Even with all the wonders at our fingertips, we still remain human, for better or worse.

 

The game plays exceedingly well insofar as its mechanics, offering more than 50 hours of meaningful gameplay. The world is absolutely enchanting in its grim beauty, with the city of Prague embodying what I imagine as a future city. There's something that keeps me coming back to this world, regardless of its horrible prejudice and wanton suffering, and I can't rightly put my finger on it.

 

All in all, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is an incredible game that shouldn't be missed. It has all of the trimmings of a masterful AAA experience from solid and fluid gameplay to the freedom of playstyle preference and the augmentations that go with it. The story stays perfectly authentic to the original game and maintains the traditional Deus Ex feel, and players are pulled into a world that's both familiar and brand new at the same time.

 

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What's Hot

 

Powerful story immerses players - I don't often play games that make me actually care about the characters or the people in the world; Mankind Divided made me do this quite often. The game fleshed out so many different characters and made them seem real to me, delivering a poignant and eerily similar tale of woe to our current technological path.

 

You feel as if you've made an impact - You can't help everyone, and the world is broken, but Adam Jensen can do something. Even if he's not saving every single aug he comes across, his actions have weight, and the game makes you feel as if the things you do matter and have an impact on the world.

 

New augmentations are an absolute blast, empower players to kick ass - Although I'm a stealth player, I had a blast with the TESLA gun and Remote Hacking. I was hacking turrets and cameras through walls with my eye-vision! I also played a part of the game as a rough-and-tumble FPS badass to see what it was like...and let me tell you it's awesome. This game holds up with modern day FPS quite well, and the augs make you feel like a bonafide superhero.

 

Freedom to do things your way - If you want to be a stealthy ninja, you can. If you want to blow things up like Rambo, you can. If you want to be a badass cyborg who mixes both stealth and destructive FPS action, you can; Mankind Divided gives you all the tools you need to do things your way.

 

Environments are incredible - Even if the PS4 version's graphics weren't so great, the game's multiple environs were rendered in high-tech style befit of a futuristic cyberpunk adventure. Prague is a beautiful mix of modern tech and old European style, offering a realistic look through a window of the future.

 

There's a lot to explore, discover, and play - My playthrough of Mankind Divided lasted some 90 hours, so I got great mileage out of my experience. Of course I completed all the side quests and explored everything I could and played stealthily, so that factors into my playtime. If you plan to do a NewGame+ you might want to hold off on some quests so you have something to come back to.

 

You feel connected to characters - This game sets up its characters in the best way possible. Often you have certain themes, posters and myths forming about certain NPCs (like Talos Rucker), making your meetings with them feel all the more satisfying. But Mankind Divided does an excellent job sparking a connection to everyday people through emails and the like. It gets to the point where you feel as if you know this person just by reading their emails and pocket secretaries...and their stories are always unique and so human.

 

What's Not

 

Few FPS drops here and there - Mankind Divided ran excellently on PS4 for about 95% of the time, but there were some minor FPS drops and hiccups here and there. I didn't face any game-breaking glitches, though!

 

Fall damage is just absurd! - I didn't invest in the Icarus Landing System until far into the game for obvious reasons; the main benefit of this aug is to prevent fall death. And yes, you will die a lot from falling when you're exploring. It's bound to happen. But honestly you don't need the aug... unless you get fed up with reloading your saves from a single misstep!

 

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Noteworthy things I noticed and did in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

 

Warning: Minor plot spoilers below, but I assure you that I haven't spoiled anything major. I feel it's important to outline these moments because they actually made me feel something. Note that these are just a snippet of the moments I experienced during the game. Mankind Divided is a very deep experience.

 

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Golem City

 

Suffering at Golem - Golem City (Utelek Complex) is one of the most memorable moments in this game. If you pay attention you hear all kinds of things about the complex; how it's a haven for the destitute, how everyone fears going there. When I visited Utelek, I saw the suffering first-hand, and while I felt bad, I was also enchanted. I hadn't' really seen what I consider actual suffering depicted so well in a game; these people were shaking and begging for "pozy," whereas others lived above in third-world conditions--barely any food, severe overcrowding, police abuse, etc.

 

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Talos Rucker, Aug Messiah - I was utterly captivated how the Augs of Golem City venerated Talos Rucker as a kind of augmented messiah. They hung on to his every word, and worshipped him. Rucker restored their humanity and gave them hope, gave them a purpose, gave them an identity when their own home nations stripped their citizenship. He made them people again. It was an amazing thing to realize and to see.

 

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The Nursery - When I was exploring Golem, I found this abandoned Nursery. This place haunted me, and almost brought me to tears. You see, this was a place that the augs brought their children and babies. The woman who owned the Nursery made makeshift play areas; there was a painted slide made out of an old duct and other things. I saw little makeshift babyseats and highchairs and it nearly broke my heart.

 

I hacked the woman's computer and saw a conversation she had with Golem City's doctor. In the email chain the woman and the doctor decided to drug every woman at the complex and make them infertile, so no child had to grow up in these conditions. There's a silver lining to his story, though: Nathaniel Brown, CEO of Santeau Group, offered to take all of the children and their parents to Rabi'ah, a new complex that offered hope and salvation.

 

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The mythologizing of Rabi'ah

 

Rabi'ah was to be the Augs' new home. The Santeau Group's CEO Nathaniel Brown promised hope for the augmented, promised them a new world made up of their kind. Rabi'ah was to be the antithesis of the Utelek Complex; it was to be a haven for augs.

 

People saw Rabi'ah as a new start. Augs venerated the complex the same way destitute foreigners speak of America; with the air of hope for a better life. This really interested me, especially after seeing the suffering at Golem City and the less-than-fortunate augs in Prague. People everywhere fled to Rabi'ah (the same way the originally fled to Utelek), but quickly found out it wasn't the Promised Land. You see, Rabi'ah is being built on the backs and sweat of millions of augmented; it's a new home for the augmented built by the augmented.

 

And to get in, you had to buy your way in with labor. Santeau assigned literal indentured servitude in order to fund this expedition, and you had to work your metal ass off to get in this place. But the people on the outside didn't know that; they saw it as the literal embodiment of hope.

 

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Richard the Great

 

This is one of the best quests in the game, so I don't want to give away too much. Let's just say at one point you come across a mind-bending hypnotist that uses his "magic" on you. Trust me, you'll find this quest if you explore the sewers!

 

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Helena the Robot

 

This was another heart-breaking tale. Helena the Robot is an aug woman named Irenka Bauer who adopted multiple personalities in order to deal with the trauma of her life. Before the Incident, Irenka made gorgeous artwork and statues in her store called Vincent Van Aug.

 

After the Incident the woman's mind had broken and she couldn't accept her real life, so she became Helena the Robot and put on these childish plays on a makeshift stage in the basement of her store. Her audience was stuffed animals and toys that she talked to like real people. She believed the fantasy and when I arrived during a side-quest, she thought I was a character from her play called Optimus.

 

I kept going with the ruse, and eventually helped her. But it was pretty heart-breaking to see her in that state.

 

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Making connections with NPCs via emails, computers, and pocket secretaries

 

I read everything I came across in Mankind Divided, and was rewarded for it. It's amazing when you read about someone in a pocket secretary, then come across them in-game to help them. This happened with Helena the Robot, and the woman who was crushed during the Ruzicka bombing--as well as countless others.

 

You often see those connections and decisions have an actual effect on in-game NPCs, making you feel as if you've actually helped someone. The computers and emails help flesh out the characters and give them purpose, so when you see them, you have a better understanding of who they are.

 

These details are like the ghosts of people's lives. I often broke into their houses just to read about who they were and about their situation. I saw the lady who died in the Ruzicka bombing had a son, Lukaz, the very boy who you see in the cut scene. I read about her awful custody battle she fought with her vicious husband, and her debt problem. I read about her life, and I got key insight on someone who I had never seen or never met--and I felt a connection to them, a real connection.

 

This is the sign of an amazingly well-written game. I connected with this woman's life and she was never even in the room. I've connected this way to dozens of other NPCs, and it makes the game all the more satisfying.

 

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Anna Gunn's murder case

 

You actually get to play as a sleuthing gumshoe in a side mission and help solve a murder. Anna Gunn, a reporter for Picus News, was murdered in a horrible way. The manner of her death actually reminded me of the Black Dahlia. Some horrible monster is harvesting aug body parts, and you investigate.

 

What makes this all the more interesting is that I read about Anna Gunn's murder in a Picus News e-newspaper hours before I came across her body. Reading about something and then coming across it in-game is really awesome, and it adds a lot of immersion.

 

During this case you have the opportunity to take the easy way out and complete it right away, or you can look deeper and find clues and interrogate suspects. I actually felt like a detective. This was just a side-quest, but it felt important, it felt like a full-on quest. I cared about Anna because I read about her life, I interrogated her husband, Johnny, about her life and got key insight about what she was like.

 

All of this for an NPC I had never met. I didn't have to meet her, though: the game made her feel important to me. That, again, is the sign of a good game.

 

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