It’s been five years since robotically enhanced Adam Jensen last donned his SPF 45 shades, soul patch and trench coat to hack, sneak and stab his way through the military-information complex and the half decade has done nothing to help him seem like less of a prototypical 1990s cyberpunk dork. Although the character hasn’t aged well, the grim dystopia setting he lives in has grown more relevant, with data-thieving terrorists lurking around every corner to give you a virtual shanking. The long-awaited sequel Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, which explores a grim near future in which corporate and military interests have strip data-mined humanity, is the right game for the right time.
Game: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Consoles: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Release Date: August 23
Using one of the grimmer endings of Deus Ex: Human Evolution as a jumping off point, you guide Jensen as he has become a social outcast rather than its savior. As part of a devious plot masterminded by shadow powers, cybernetically enhanced humans such as Jensen have been demonized and cast away, forced to either lurk in the underworld or flail against society as terrorists. Attempting to get by as he seeks to expose the conspiracy, Jensen takes on a contract to hunt down a violent band of augmented criminals. You can approach missions with guns blazing, by using your negotiating wits and hacking ability, or with stealthy subversion.
As is fitting for its theme of augmented powers bought, sold and stolen on the open market, countless aspects of the game are customizable. Aside from the usual difficulty settings, you can also opt from one of four control setups — which influence not only button commands but menu access and combat flow — as well as background cinematics and tutorials that you can skip or peruse as you like. If you’re in the mood for a 12-minute recap of the grim events that set up this game, sit back and have at it. If you’re itching to get to the action, you can tap a button and catch up via the rich contextual detail and dialogue snippets that permeate the game’s fabric.
One of the great joys of Mankind Divded is to scrap incapacitated bodies for spare parts and work your way up the augmentations trees. Even at its lower levels, the game can be stubbornly difficult, but that only provides more motivation to delve into your array of potential enhancements, come back fully loaded and use your new sight enhancement, strength or speed power-up or weaponry to infiltrate an encampment that frustrated you before. Early on, when you find yourself donning cyber sight to identify a weak spot in a brick wall that lets you smash through like the Kool-Aid Man, you get a sense of the empowerment fantasy that awaits.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a rare game that makes you feel well-read and lost in thought as you play through the story and ponder its deeper themes. As people willingly hand over freedoms and privacy in favor of connectivity to a grid every bit as willing to exploit them as they are the information and access it offers, they creep toward a singularity with nightmarish implications. Your quest for truth and to make some sort of difference feels futile and naive. You’re confronted with moral choices in the branching story to save a person in pursuit of a cause that sacrifices something else you might have otherwise held dear, and feel dirty even after the most empowering of victories. That you find yourself so divided means the game the devs are playing with you is working just as they designed.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Reviews Around The Web:
“Great stealth and action sections, and the glossy, extraordinarily detailed visuals that impressed me so much.” –Ars Technica
“I’ll happily pour hours of my time searching out every secret hidden in its side streets.” –Kotaku
“We can confidently assert that if you liked previous Deus Ex games, you’ll like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.” –Digital Spy
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Screenshots
The publisher provided a review copy.
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