Overall 8.90
Deus Ex Human Revolution was a love letter to all Deus Ex fans. It was a modern update to a great formula that worked nearly perfectly. It had its issues but the story choices and gameplay options all made for a great experience because there were not many games like it at the time Fast forward 5 years and now this Deus ex formula isn't that rare anymore. Mankind Divided plays it very safe, only added small changes, and did not really bring the gunplay and other mechanics to a more modern feel. The result is a safe sequel that while still great doesn't feel as special as HR felt.

My first impression from MD was not a good one, I was taken aback by how primitave the combat felt. Gunplay was loose and lacked any impact, I felt like I was just peppering enemies with pellets until they died. Melee attacks always transitioned into an awkward cutscene showing the takedown. Moving in and out of cover felt sticky and overall all the animations felt robotic. Basically it's exactly the same from HR but in five years I expected some mechanical improvements.

Once the game began to open up I remembered why these games are so great, the freedom in how you approach the missions and the exploration is nearly unmatched. There is one major city hub in Mankind Divided and it's almost entirely open after an intro area. While it's not the largest game world by any stretch, it's super dense with things to do and find around every corner. I was overwhlemed with how open it all was; I was able to enter areas which I could tell would be used by a mission later on but with the right skills nothing is off limits. I spent hours and hours just wandering around, finding side quests, figuring out ways to get to open windows on roof tops, and discovering small side stories told through emails.

The joy of Deus Ex has always been the freedom offered to the player and this game excels at that. Not just from how open the world is but how every mission has multiple ways to tackle them. One of the best early side missions had me discover a brainwashed cult in the sewers with people controlled by a former magician who hides in a control room. The mission can be finished violently with Jensen using his skills to get to the control room and kill the magician or you can search for clues which gives info on his past which leads you to a partner of his in a whole different part of the city. From there you get loads of backstory and a non violent way to end cult. It's crazy how much you can miss out and this is true for most every mission, there are always multiple solutions. I would reload saves and try multiple ways to finish each mission, it's easily the most fun I had with the game.

These missions aren't a bunch of random fetch quests either. These are well thought out, engaging and varied side quests. Some are multi stage quests taking part in different parts of the game. But there are only 15 side missions total so the trade off for having such quality missions is having a few of them. Still there is so much to do, so much detail in every inch of this world that it took me 45 hours to complete it all.

The main story campaign is also very good as it takes you to a few off city sites that serve as the core gameplay stages. These areas are dedicated zones for the infiltration gameplay and they are as well designed as the main hub is. Sneaking around is by far the best way to go as it offers the most compelling gameplay. These levels are designed to be sneaky and find ways to avoid combat making use of your various augments. Hacking returns practically unchanged from HR meaning it's a boring mini game but hacking in general remains one of the best ways to advance through a stage. Whether it's entering secure areas or hacking cameras and turrets; using your hacking skills can make navigating these playgrounds much more engaging.

One of the few actual gameplay changes from the first game is the addition of new augs. When you first gain access to these augs if you choose to activate one you have to deactivate one of the older augs, this requirement is removed toward the end of the game so it feels like a pointless barrier at first.  The best ones of the new batch are the blade launcher which allows you to fire your blade for an almost always instant stealth kill. There is the Icarus dash which allows you to basically teleport a short distance, this is clearly meant to be like the blink from Dishonored. It's fun and allows for great maneuverability around these well designed areas. There is also this metallic body armor thing that turns you invincible for some time, I never used it because that's kind of cheating to me. The new augs don't drastically change the game in any way but it's nice to play with a few new toys.

Combat is serviceable at best. At higher levels with more augs and more powerful guns you can have a few good gun engagements, especially when going up against other powered augs who teleport around. I normally replayed the main missions twice, once with stealth and once going Rambo. My Rambo runs were a fun distraction but never as interesting as the stealth runs, MGS this is not.

There is much controversy over the story and the so called abrupt ending to this game. I for one had no problems with it at all. If this is viewed as a trilogy the middle portion often ends with unresolved plot lines. The main threat and villain of this story is totally self contained and has a proper resolution, I don't get why people feel the game just stops; It is a totally reasonable ending. Hell I wouldn't even call it a cliffhanger, there are threads left for the next game, that is all. In terms of the story quality it is your run of the mill spy thriller, the real quality stuff comes from the side stories which are generally really great.

I took forever to finish this game, some claim it's shorter than HR and finished it in half the time, if you really take your time and commit to expericing all this game has to offer it is as long as the first game. There is also this brand new mode called breach mode which is a score attack VR missions like mode. This mode is surprisingly in depth with its own power ups and loads of missions with varied objectives. As much as I love these kinds of modes this one is tied into a pay to win kind of inventory system. So you slowly get ammo to use in these missions, many times if you fail you end up with a paltry amount of default ammo which won't allow you to go for the high score. As a solution you can pay for more ammo with real money. It kind of ruins a cool mode. It is totally optional so it's not something you even have to acknowledge but I am all for extra content.

Deus Ex Mankind Divided when viewed on its own is an excellent well designed game. But I played this game before; it came out five years ago. why does this feel like such a safe sequel if it took five years to make? The mechanics are stuck in the past and all the great stuff like the freedom of the quests is part of the Deus ex DNA so it isn't  exactly new for this franchise even if when compared to other games it far exceeds those. If you enjoy Deus Ex games then you should find the time to play this game, it's great just don't expect the next evolution in the open ended stealth genre.
Posted by Dvader Wed, 28 Sep 2016 19:29:35
Wed, 28 Sep 2016 22:35:17
Edge gives this a 8.8, so you have to one up him?
Thu, 29 Sep 2016 13:20:23
I think it took them 5 years to make just because they worked on Thief in between both games. In that sense, these guys have made 3 games in the past 5-ish years that IMO were all pretty great.

I didn't even realize this is supposed to be a trilogy story. Thanks for the info big V.
Thu, 29 Sep 2016 18:40:13
Oh I have no clue I just figure they plan to tell a third story.
Thu, 29 Sep 2016 21:26:08
Oh....well they probably plan to tell stories as long as people keep buying the games. lol
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