Deus Ex: Man Kind Divided Review
Deus Ex: Man Kind Divided wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. Man Kind Divided was my first foray into the Deus Ex universe, and for all the hype, I wasn’t seeing it early on. As you begin moving through the main story, however, you quickly release that Deus Ex isn’t your typical first person action-adventure-stealth title; it is something much, much more.
New to the Franchise, No Problem
Man Kind Divided takes place two years after the end of Human Revolution, and the tensions between humans and augs has never been higher. You play ex-cop and augmented human, Adam Jenson. Fortunately, if you never played Human Revolution and feel like you might be missing out, don’t worry: there is a really informative 12 minute video that will introduce the climate that Man Kind Divided takes place in.
Authors Note: We have not explored Deus Ex: Breach or Jenson’s Stories in this review. While these are great editions, it really isn’t the reason to buy – or not buy – this title. That being said, we will be looking at both those modes in the near future.
Although this review will get into a few basics, the majority of the story will be left out of this review. Move ahead knowing there will be no spoilers to ruin your Deus Ex experience.
Man Kind Divided is not an open world game, no matter what the Internet might try to tell you. It is more of a string of open environments, all of which have great detail and a great feel. The central hub for the game – the city of Prague – is broken up into multiple, explorable areas, connected by a subway or bullet train rail system. While no area is ‘large’ some are actually a really great size, giving the false impression of openness.
Frankly, I really enjoy the open environment set up of Deus Ex: Man Kind Divided because it keeps players focused on the story missions and handful of side missions. With so much detail and love put into this title, it’s great knowing you can actually explore all of it in a reasonable amount of time.
Initially, it was dissapointing to learn that Prague was the only main city you would get to explore; sure, you would spend some time in Golem City, a living space created specifically for augs, but generally, you roam around Prague between major story missions, completing side missions and collecting loot. Initial disappointment, yes, but not long lasting. Prague is a really great place to explore, and the so much detail was put into the environments, showcasing a large police presence, civilians on edge, and a fairly realistic city life.
The same love and attention was not given to interior spaces, and this is painfully obvious the first moments you spend in Prague. As you leave your apartment, you have the option of entering – or breaking into – other apartments in your building. Each looks and feels the same, regardless of layout.
Prague changes over time, a reason why a single city centre is not too much of problem. When returning from various missions, things in Prague may be subtlety different then they were before, a harsh reality of the tensions between augs and humans. Sometimes, however, these changes are purely because of time of day. When exploring Prague for the first time, you will do so during the day; later, however, you will wander the streets at night. There is no established day-night cycle in the game, so what you see at any given time is what you will get until a mission or cut scene decides differently.
More and more of Prague opens up for exploration as you go, and this is where you begin to find the minimal annoyances in the environments. To really create a realistic, hostile environment, be prepared to show papers and identification, often. Most times, when boarding or leaving train depots, you will be asked. Each time, a short cutscene follows. These scenes are never that long – a few seconds at most – but they always seem to disrupt what I’m actually trying to do in an unnecessary way.
If I had one wish for Deus Ex: Man Kind Divided after playing for five minutes, it would have been to have a different voice actor for Adam Jenson. I cannot really pinpoint why I feel this way, but that voice he does is borderline annoying, and doesn’t really ‘fit’ the character itself.
That aside, playing as Adam Jenson is a great experience, especially once you fix the damage to your augmentations in the aftermath of the train station bombing at the beginning of the game. When you finally make your way through Prague to the doctor, you are armed with points to assign to your augmentations, which will ultimately allow you to decide your play style.
As much as the developers have argued that Man Kind Divded could be tackled in any way, I’m not sure that is entirely true. In most situations, attempting to fight my way through a group of enemies almost always led to certain death. Playing stealthy, however, seemed to work much, much better. This could be because the augmentations you can unlock for Adam Jenson heavily favor the stealth game play. While you can get suites that will provided extra armour for short periods of time, or that will slow down allowing you to set up the perfect head shot, Jenson himself – and frankly the environments he explores – are tailored for a stealth-first approach.
You can go the other route, and you can be successful. It’s just harder…much harder.
The cast of side characters are both great and horrible. Some characters really pop, like an anti-government newspaper editor you meet. Others, however, are fairly boring. It’s a mixed bag to be sure, but there are enough of them to create a fairly strong balance throughout.
The same cannot be said for the games story. Although it is far from bad, it’s just not great. I was really hoping that because of the hype and the obvious good game play, Edios Montreal would be able to deliver a great story as well.
Despite a weak storyline – which frankly ends fairly abruptley, making you question whether there might be an after credits moment – there are a number of side missions that are both interesting to unfold and fun to play, whether it’s helping someone infiltrate a building, robbing stores and government offices, or simply doing a good deed for another person. Every time I completed a main or side mission, there was a feeling of accomplishment, even if I felt the story had not advanced in any way.
So Many Options
These entire review has led me to this point: Deus Ex: Man Kind Devided provides players options not seen in many past games. When you first boot up the game, and play through the tutorial mission in Dubai, you will quickly assume you are playing the next Assassins Creed, Eagle Vision and all.
But it is so much more than that. Each level and each mission provided me with a plethora of options when it came to deciding how to complete it. You will traverse along the ground, but also vertically, Whether you want to climb on top of a tall stack of storage containers and pick up enemies below one-by-one, go in guns blazing, or want to sneak around and knock enemies out, you have so many options. And they never play out the same way for the same people.
I love games that give me the tools I need to complete the mission, but allow me to choose how I do it. If Deus Ex does nothing else to set itself apart from other stealth games – and for the record, it does – I do believe it does this better than most.
The game also allows Jenson – you – the oppertunity to make choices. Although I never found any of these to be game changing – choosing which weapon you will bring into a mission, which civilian you will help, whether or not you will allow yourself to be bribed – it is nice to see that the options are there. However, I don’t feel like the options provided are enough to make me play through Man Kind Divided a second time, at least not in the near future.
Unlike and Assassins Creed – where you have so many things to find, collect, upgrade, etc. – Deus Ex: Man Kind Divided has a definite start and a definite end. To explore and complete roughly everything the game has to offer will only take you about 30-35 hours, which is often the length of just the main story line in other AAA titles.
That being said, I don’t think anyone will come into this game only wanting to complete the main story. Side quests are interesting and depending on how you want to play, helping people around Prague is as satisfying as you can imagine.
If you are looking to play a great stealth game with a definite beginning and end, I cannot recommend Deus Ex: Man Kind Divided enough. It really is a fantastic experience.