Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided picks up where the last game in this long-running series, 2013's mobile title Deus Ex: The Fall, left off. The story is set in the not-too-distant future of 2029. It's a time in which mechanically augmented humans have been around for a while. At first, it was pretty cool to have robotic limbs that would allow you to hoist a small car or vision implants that could help you see a hummingbird from five blocks away. But now things have changed.
A disastrous event called the "Aug Incident" caused thousands of deaths and turned the tide of public opinion against cyborg technology. As the game begins, anti-aug fear is sweeping the land, and people with mech implants have quickly become a class of outcasts. Aug-focused terrorist attacks are taking place. Fully human police forces are implementing martial law. Augmentation facilitating drugs are becoming an underground black market. And the whole world appears to be a powder keg ready to blow.
Mechanisms and Mechanics
Gamers play as Adam Jensen, one of the few augmented agents still tolerated within the ranks of Interpol. It's up to him to use his souped-up abilities to track down a terrorist group and figure out how and why everything is imploding. Is there more than just the hatred and fear of a small group at play here? Is there something more nefarious going on? Is there perhaps a malevolent group of shadowy political power players pulling the world's strings as a means of controlling the masses on a global scale?
The storyline is a deeply immersive one (even though it sometimes feels like a thinly veiled representation of the social unrest roiling society today). It's paired with a game of stealthy sneaking and ever-more-challenging criminal investigations. Amid Prague's slums and crowded marketplaces, players are given goals to reach, facts to uncover and a whole slew of ways to overcome the sizable obstacles thrown in their path.
There's always the option of running in with guns blazing or using Jensen's powerful augmented abilities to wreak havoc (which I'll talk about more in a moment). But it's actually much more rewarding to find a way to avoid bloodshed. Is there a choice that will let you silently slip by foes on an overhead ledge? A keycard to find, perhaps? Is there a trick that'll draw attention away from you, a terminal to hack, an air vent to crawl through?
In fact, the game even offers up more experience-point bonuses if you take the less cutthroat way and simply knock out a foe when cornered, rather than eviscerating him. And those extra boosts actually allow you to upgrade your character's abilities and augments all the more quickly.
Mankind Divided also packs in a truckload of interesting augmentation capabilities. The Icarus Dash enables players to quickly traverse large, difficult areas. Remote Hacking gives you an advantage over automated sentries. And the Tesla Arm can target up to four heavily armed foes simultaneously, knocking them out with a non-lethal electrical zap.
Deus Has Left the Building
For all that engaging gameplay, however, Mankind muddles through some major messes, too. Perhaps the most obvious one is the fact that when players do choose lethal violence over stealthy subterfuge, things can get pretty gritty. Taking aim down the barrel of an arsenal of handguns, rifles, shotguns and automatic weaponry is always an option, too. And the resulting headshots splatter gore, while grenades send bodies flying.
In fact, there are scores of ways to "creatively" hack 'n' blast baddies for those who don't want to go to the effort of sneaking past them. Several particularly grim kills, for instance, involve Jensen's built-in arm blade slashing legs, torsos and necks. On top of all that, you can liberally eliminate anyone you encounter, whether enemy or innocent. You wanna shoot that stripper in the back or blast that shop owner? Have at it.
No matter how nice or nasty you play things, though, there are some sights and sounds that are bound to be part of players' experience traversing this M-rated narrative. Dialogue is rife with f- and s-words as well as other crude exclamations. There's a fringe group that worships something called the "Machine God." Though we don't see their destruction take place, they appear to be a suicide death cult.
The game also makes it plain that Russian mobsters really enjoy having barely dressed women lounging around whenever possible. Strip club pole dancers, and barmaids in bikini tops and g-strings show quite a bit of their digital skin. Red-light district billboards display realistic images of nearly nude women. And there are discussions of gigolos, prostitution and sex acts.
All in all, it's content that fatally undermines this title's otherwise immersive gameplay. And as for the Deus—Latin for God—in the title? Well, He never shows up at all.