Deus Ex – Mankind Divided

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Mankind Divided fixes a lot of issues that plagued Human Revolution. The opening is decidedly stronger and sets up a mystery that is both more interesting and neater than the one in Human Revolution. It only has the one hub level, but it is a much stronger area than anything Human Revolution had to offer – the solid fashion designs have grown stronger and inspired the world around them to create a place that feels like a very realistic version of what a European city would look like in the setting provided. It is blessedly devoid of ill-fitting comic relief characters and boss fights that require you to use skills you can otherwise ignore.

Sadly, it also gives off some of the sloppy vibe that plagued Human Revolution – a lot of scripts seem malconstructed as conversations are repeated, callouts and button prompts do not work and information that is missing altogether. Those are just the overt things though, there are more subtle issues – animations are sloppy during conversations and do not transition very well, removing a lot of carefully established gravitas from heavy scenes. The game will occasionally task you with transporting unconscious bodies at the mercy of a physics engine that may flip out and throw them far away or so hard into a wall that they die. Navigation often has conflicting controls and enemies, enemies will spot you with little warning and frequently you’re not even informed that you screwed up – in a game that gives you bonuses for maintaining a pacifist, stealthy playstyle this is infuriating to say the least. I found none of the upgrades really offered me new and interesting ways to play, they only made the ways I already played the game less frustrating.

The world is still really well established though, and the story that’s set within it is compelling. The themes of mistrust and discrimination are very relevant and sometimes they become a bit overt, but all of the characters you actually talk to are well developed and relatable – with the rare exception of a few goons, no-one is unambiguously good or bad. It also gets bonus points for doing conversations right, I always felt like I had a good response and the lack of a morality system made it more about establishing character than scoring points – in fact, Deus Ex only makes the narrative difficult when it wants to by making you doubt your allies or forcing you into tough decisions. Whatever other faults the game has, it ties together scenery with characters, background and all other narrative elements.

It was interesting playing this right after Infinite Warfare as it is, in a way, the antithesis of it – a┬áreally solid presentation and a mystery to draw you in, but a gameplay that more frequently gets in the way of that than helps it. I really enjoyed the game though, and I am interested in seeing where it goes next.

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Posted on Dec 01/16 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »