First things first. I would like to note right off the bat that this is the first Deus Ex title I have ever played. So I came into Mankind Divided with no expectations really to speak of. I hadn’t even really read any reviews on the previous games in the series, but from what I can tell they were strong games that did have a decent amount of acclaim from the gaming community. Not great games like on a level of say Metal Gear Solid or perfect 10’s as in Uncharted 4, but still good none the less. Obviously i’m also coming into MD without knowing really anything plot related. However, at the beginning of the game there is an option to watch a 12 minute recap video detailing what has happened up to this point in the story. I really commend Square Enix for this design decision and for giving players the option of watching it instead of cramming it down the throat of every person booting up the game wether they are veterans of the series or not.
Immediately into watching the recap video I was riveted in the narrative. So far I’m really liking the plot point of a society split between two groups of people fighting over personal beliefs and ideologies. It makes for a truly compelling narrative that has kept me interested and wanting to keep playing to see what happens next. After the 12 minute recap, the game proper starts and after a brief cinematic, we take control of series protagonist Adam Jensen.
Right of the bat you will notice that Mankind Divided is no slouch in the graphics department. The visuals are highly detailed, crispy clean right down to the strong and beautiful highlights and lighing effects. Immediately into controlling our hero, I notice how fluid movement is and the frames churn along at a smooth pace. (*side note: I am playing the Xbox One version). It didn’t take long to get accustomed to the basic gameplay controls, however a couple hours in and i am still getting the hang of some of the advanced mechanics and inventory management, crafting, upgrading augs, and things of that nature. But this is a review in progress, and I haven’t spent a ton of time with it so far. I’m getting the hang of things at the same pace that I do on any other game so it’s nothing bad or anything like that. Atleast not at this point.
Player choice and freedom are some of the major sellig points of Mankind Divided and from what I have played so far it looks like there is going to be no shortage of those elements. At this point I have completed a couple main story missions and around 4 or 5 side ones and in that short period, and from watching some other gamers playthroughs, I have already seen several major moments done differently and can see that those decisions have altered the game dramatically between their playthrough and mine. For instance I watched someone play through the completion of the introductory mission and they were having a hell of a time, getting clobbered by a massive group of enemies, and dying several times. However, in my playthrough (which I completed before watching their’s) I took a different route and approach-didn’t fire a single shot and didn’t have to take down one single enemy-and saved the character we were supposed to and stopped the thing we were supposed to. (Trying not to spoil anything here). In their game, they failed both of those objectives,however they were not forced to retry to complete them. The game kept going on, the narrative forever altered by their choices, and from what I have seen of their playthrough-it is very different from mine.
Early on, there is a small quest where you have to go see this underground doctor to get your augs checked and fixed. It is here where Square Enix introduces a major plot point that also serves the purpose of explaining why some of your augs can be upgraded and all that so that there is still aug progression in the game. Square does this brilliantly, with a narrative angle that is engaging and keeping me enthralled. Too many times have I seen sequels try to address the reasoning behind upgrading characters from a previous series entry and have it done horribly wrong, so kudos to Square Enix for pulling it off. And from what I can see in the aug skill tree, there looks to be a ton of upgrades and levels to each upgrade as well, so that should keep us occupied for quite a while. From the types of skills and augments that I can see too, there is something here for everyone and all types of play styles.
With games such as Thief and Dishonored were are starting to see a lot more games that taut player choice over stealth or a guns-blazing approach. While those two games pulled it off quite well, from what I have played so far-Mankind Divided has implemented it the best. One of the very few things that I do know about previous entries in the series, is that player felt that they were punished for playing in a less-than-stealthy manner. In my time so far I have been playing a pretty equal balance between the two play styles and I don’t feel any kind of repercussion for pulling a gun out and going a little postal on some baddies (other than the obvious aspect of alerting all the other enemies and getting pummeled by them but that is a whole other can of worms). A couple of the guns I have used feel a little janky and are a tad tough to control, but the main combat assault rifle I use most of the time is much easier to wield and aim. Plus I have been pretty spoiled gunplay wise lately, having played several games that do it near flawlessly-such as Destiny, The Division, Call of Duty, and Titanfall.
One of the main things that have stuck with me the most in this early playthrough is how ‘lived-in’ the game world feels. The game does an excellent job of making you feel that you are actually a part of this opressive society and that your choices and actions actually matter and have repurcussions. There has been numerous games in the last few years that have claimed this element in their games but while some of those games pulled it off well, none have done it as well as Mankind Divided. There has been several altercations I have had with NPC’s where, depending on my speach choices, could either turn violent and erupt into a gun battle or could go peacefully and get what I needed from them. Speaking of the dialog mechanic, it is also done very well. When your speach choiced pop up on the screen, Jensen actually says what is on the screen! So it is way easier to make an informed decision on what you would like to say next. I have seen several games that had speach mechanics like this, but when you made a choice the character would say something totally different that had nothing to do with what you were trying to say.
As far as the plot goes, I think it is strong as well. As I said earlier, this is my first Deus Ex game that I have ever played, so take it for what you will. But I have been intrigued since minute one and actually stayed up the first two nights after getting the game just to see what happens next!
Keep it locked right here on SportsNerdWeb for a full review on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided in the near future and make sure to follow us on Twitter @SportsNerd48 for more and check out our youTube channel at SportsNerdWeb for video content!…CHEERS!!