“I never asked for this…”
Well, we kind of did on this one. Five (five!) years ago Eidos Montreal semi-rebooted the long-standing Deus Ex franchise with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a black and gold-filtered sci-fi action/stealth game based around the idea of human augmentation. Main character Adam Jensen worked for one of the pioneers of the industry, David Sarif, as a security officer, and over the course of the game unraveled a plot by who other than the Illuminati to push the “aug” agenda ultimately ending in a signal being sent out that caused anyone with augmentations to temporarily lose control and kill. This is the backdrop for the newest game in the series, Deus Ex; Mankind Divided. Jensen is back, and a few years after “the incident” tensions between “normals” and “augs” are at an all-time high. Rampant racism, terrorism, and conspiracy flows through the world as you try to once again unravel the plot of the Illuminati, and some more local issues.
Deus Ex Mankind Divided is a solid game. It falls back in mostly the same tracks as the previous entry, sometimes to a fault, though. The gameplay is very similar to Deus Ex Human Revolution, so that may sway you in playing or not. The cover system is largely unchanged, and the levels are once again multi-leveled and open, giving you multiple options in how to attack any one mission. I tend to call the gameplay in Mankind Divided a mix between Metal Gear Solid and the recent Batman Arkham games. The stealth is a lot of tricking enemies by throwing boxes or making noises (MGS) and then retreating to back alleyways or vents (Batman) to loop around to another entry point. The game does a better job at giving you a choice whether or not to be lethal. In fact, the very first cutscene asks you what type of gun you want, setting the scene for how you will play the game (you can purchase other non-lethal or lethal guns later if you decide on a new direction). The only issue I still have with the series is the odd design choices like fading to black when you enter a melee animation. I have no idea why those are needed still. Also the facial animations and lip syncing leave much to be desired. Aside from that, the game looks and runs solid (I was on PC) and will make even higher end rigs work a bit with the myriad of options provided.
Jensen has augments once again, and to start they are all of the augments you are used to from Human Revolution. At an early story point you discover that you have more augments than you initially realized, and this unlocks another set of abilities to use your leveling points on. The new way Eidos manages augments is an overheat system. As you turn on the new augments a meter at the bottom bumps up to 150%, and in order to get it back down to a stable 100% you need to disable some other abilities. This gives you a way to design your playthrough. If you are playing stealth, for example, you can disable all the augments for killing. Also the weapon system largely feels the same when shooting, but is much deeper in customization. Each gun has multiple parts and ammo types that you can find or craft yourself. This opens the door to some fun combinations like a silenced shotgun. The mission structure and gameplay is not overly difficult and the checkpoints are sound enough that you can experiment by using a weapon, reloading a save, and using something else if you so desire.
The plot of Mankind Divided is probably the worst piece, weird design choices in gameplay aside, but it’s not terrible, just so-so. Jensen is now working with an Interpol task force based out of Prague. While on mission in Dubai the team is attacked by an all-aug group wearing gold masks. This is the basis of the over-arching plot. Upon arriving back to Prague a terrorist attack happens setting off the main sub-plot of the game. As you work through the story you end up mostly resolving the sub plot, but not getting much further in the overall, Illuminati plot-line. I assume a third game is coming, but it would have been nice to have a bit more resolution. The characters are mostly solid and the voice acting is good overall, so it is fun to work through the missions (and even the side missions), though.
Overall Mankind Divided is mostly a success. If Eidos could fix the weird design issues and animation system, and kick the plot in gear, they could really have something special for the next entry. If you enjoyed Human Revolution you should have just as much fun with this game, as it takes that core concept and expands on it with more side stories, items to find, and doesn’t force you to kill bosses (which was an issue people had with Human Revolution). If you are new to the series, and enjoy lighter stealth/RPG style games you should also have a good time, and don’t worry about missing the story of Human Revolution, there is a (skip-able) 12 minute intro video detailing the plot of the first entry. In a time of the year before everything comes out, Mankind Divided is a solid time investment, and will give most a good amount of enjoyment.