So I was playing Deus Ex: Mankind Divided the other night, and while I was going along in a conversation and making the choices that I felt were right, there was a statement said in-game that hit me right between the eyes.
Humanity is sick.
Now without giving too much away, obviously the character was talking about the current state of the game world. Particularly, they were referencing the chaos and fear from ‘terrorist attacks’ being redirected and refocused as hate and discrimination against those people that have had cybernetic enhancement procedures performed on their bodies (Augs). But with the current state of the real world, what with the latest terror attacks in France and the recent banning of the ‘burkini’, the fearmongering portrayed through the media, and the blatant racism and demonising of different religious sects/ethnic minorities that we all see every day, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between the two. While Deus Ex is set within a fictional universe, the ease with which I can draw these parallels between the real world and this fictional, dysfunctional society really worries me.
Without even considering the great gameplay that this entry into the Deus Ex series provides, or the stunning visuals that you are greeted with around each corner, this is the main reason why I feel that Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will easily be one of my most loved titles from this year.
But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is the sequel to 2011’s critically acclaimed Deus Ex: Human Revolution. You play as Adam Jensen, an Ex-Swat, Ex-Sarrif Industries Security Guard who is now working for Interpol as part of a group called Task Force 29. Following on from the events in Human Revolution, Mankind Divided deals with the effects of those events on society at large, with terrorist attacks happening across the globe. As a member of the secretive TF29, it is Adam’s job to investigate these attacks, and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The gameplay in Mankind Divided is very similar to its predecessor, which in this case isn’t a bad thing, with your movements around the the various environments feeling natural (or as natural as could be expected from an individual that is half cybernetic.) As can be expected in a game where technology plays such a major role, there are a number of different computer terminals, security cameras and turrets for you to hack and control. While the Hacking mini-game has changed somewhat from it’s previous incarnation, I still find it can provide an enjoyable and sometimes nail biting experience.
The combat system will also feel familiar, with the game giving you the opportunity right from the start to decide exactly how you want to go about dispatching those pesky NPC’s that are in your way. With multiple pathways through each area, you can choose to proceed in a non-violent, stealthy matter, go in guns blazing, or blend these together to create a style that suits you best. In the Deus Ex games in particular, I find myself opting more for the Stealth side of the game, happily bypassing NPC’s that I do not need to deal with.
Graphically, while I wouldn’t say the game is beautiful, the visuals fit the overall tone of the game. Even so, there are some scenes that will take your breath away, and you will feel like these cities that you are seeing are real places that you could go and visit in the not too distant future. Granted, you will notice in some scenes that the voice acting doesn’t really line up with the visuals, and as such you will think it is a badly dubbed foreign movie.
What Deus Ex: Mankind Divided does really well, is put you into these situations where you need to make a choice. And most of the time, these choices are not easy and straightforward. Deus Ex consistently gives you a choice designed to sit in a grey area, a choice that is designed to challenge your morals. Are the ‘terrorists’ you are investigating really in the wrong, or are they actually rebels fighting against a corrupt and merciless system? Who is in the right? Who is lying?
This is where the replayability of the game really comes into play. Each choice and action is final, and can lead to a different experience. As such, the completionist in me will have me going back and playing this game over, and over, until I have explored every choice.
Now, there is one thing that I REALLY don’t like about this game. For lack of a better word – Microtransactions. In previous Deus Ex games, you have had to plan the activation of your abilities very carefully. After all, there are only so many Praxis Kits available. Well, that was the case anyways. Not anymore. Now, you have the ability to purchase stacks of these kits from your system’s relative game store. Effectively, if you wanted to spend the money, you could START the game with everything unlocked. To me, that just defeats the purpose and shows that some decisions are made just to bring in more revenue.
The thing that both fascinates and worries me about Deus Ex is how believable it all really is. It isn’t hard to believe that we, as a society, will soon have affordable access to cybernetic limb replacements. If we take a look at ourselves now, today, with all of the discrimination, the fighting over resources or whose religion is the correct religion, is it really that much of a stretch to think that with the right (or wrong) situation, Humanity wouldn’t segregate Augmented individuals? I mean, we have someone who hopes to be the next President of the United States saying that people of a certain faith should be segregated already. Once we start, it is a slippery slope indeed. Could we, one day, be living in the Deus Ex universe not through the fiction of a video game, but as our reality? Should that not worry us?
The Good: Amazing story, great gameplay, multiple ways to pass each scenario
The Bad: Microtransactions!!! Voice Overs and Graphics are sometimes out of sync
The Final Verdict: Deus Ex has long been one of my favourite game series, and Mankind Divided is no exception, regardless of how I worry that the fiction may become reality. While if you haven’t played Deux Ex: Human Revolution, some of the story may be confusing, it is not essential playing to enjoy Mankind Divided to the fullest.