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Monday, September 5, 2016

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Xbox One Review - 7/10

To be honest, given how I'm not a person who is able to get review copies of games I either cover a game when it comes out spending a few hours grinding through the game to the point where I feel I've got a decent enough grasp of the game or get an indie game which most people wouldn't know about and therefore would have significantly less coverage. On the few occasions where I post a review of some kind about a game that is older or has been out for some time its usually because I feel the game is exceptionally terrible and I need to highlight to others to stay away from this game... or I just feel bored and like I've not accomplished anything in some time and reviews like this take about five minutes or so to write. Magic broken, I suppose.
Anyways, Deus Ex: Mankind divided is the fourth game in the series of Deus Ex. I'm not counting The Fall because that was apparently a really terrible game that was mobile then ported to PC and still remained terrible because I like to keep the good or decent parts of a series in tact. Yes, even Invisible War was a better game... however debatable that is. More importantly this game is the sequel to the well received Human Revolution game in which the game takes off relatively shortly from and features the same main character via Adam ("I never asked for this") Jensen. I personally liked the game despite its sometimes major flaws.

The Good:
Game looks good. Not a surprise. Next! Alright, maybe I should talk about this a bit. The previous game featured very stylized graphics where orange was a prominent color to the point where if someone were afraid of the color they would have died around the opening of the game due to cardiac arrest. All joking aside the game looked really good and still holds up now after about five years albeit with very ceramic/abnormally shiny looking character models. This game is even more impressive looking and ditches the orange everything look. The world looks more real and less like a Blade Runner game where the main designer cut someone off halfway when they explained how orange and blue are complimenting colors. There's also a diversity of character models in which before you saw very generic looking NPCs now each one has their own unique style in some fashion most notably the augmented. I was often struck by how beautiful some of the augments looked to the point where I would just stare and gawk at the level of detail and intricacies of the designs.
The story takes a nicer turn in that Adam is not like some messiah figure but just a random guy caught up in a thing. I've always hated chosen one stories and, while the original game wasn't that, it felt really close to it. See Human Revolution and Mankind Divided take place some time before the very first game in a prequel status. The augmented are looked down upon and generally seen as a very thin allegory to racism in which they are treated as second class by most at best. In the original game, while I believe there was some of those racist overtones, the game featured a bevy of augmented characters that blurred the line between augmented and robotic where very little of humanity remained of them both mentally and physically. In Adam's time most augmented people only have a few parts rather than being fully augmented. This is because most people's bodies reject augments and require upkeep and chemicals to continue functioning somewhat normally. In Human Revolution they treated Adam with awe and reverence since he was a near fully augmented human being who didn't reject his augmentations at all. So it was like a chosen one story in various ways which kind of bored me. Apart from a single line of dialogue you can completely miss (at least that I've found) there's little to no mention of this. I like this because the story feels more grounded in the sense we're just another part of this world instead of basically reading a bible of sorts detailing mythical figures.
The AI has also been upgraded. There was so many points in the game that I hid from being attacked and preferred stealth as an extremely viable option. The problem with the previous game was when you were found out it really only paid off to go guns blazing until all your attackers were stains on the floor. Enemies are smarter and more realistic in this game, usually staying on alert even when you're supposed to be in the clear. Throw an object in the direction of two enemies and, usually, one enemy will stay behind while another investigates to cover them. Speaking of cover, enemies actively use it and move around as to not be bullet sponges or mindless zombies that only know how to shoot. They try to flank you when their numbers are greater and work together. If you're facing a single enemy they usually like to stay in cover whereas in a group one or more will come at you while another puts the pressure of constant fire on you. There are also more types of enemies that in the first game, albeit not significantly. You've really got to watch your back when facing down the police because they have these armored mech suits that not only soak up damage but also can dish it back out. They were by far my most difficult challenges in the game, apart from my desire to go through a completely no death gameplay... which I will unfortunately have to talk about later down below.

The Bad:
Alright so like I mentioned up before, no death playthrough is possible and grants and achievement or trophy in PlayStation's case. However this becomes infuriating given the fact that apparently if you sometimes try to relocate a body they will clip into the wall and sometimes die. This may not seem like a big deal but the easiest way to go through the no death way is to stealth and stealthing means knocking out people and moving their bodies. So its a challenge for me to both go through the game stealthily but also leaving a body because I don't want to have to possibly reload the game because this ragdoll decided, "Ya but like what if I stuck myself into a wall/door and then died... somehow?" I'm not saying its a huge deal but there's actually a mission in the game (side mission but still) that tasks you with knocking out a guy and then dragging him to a nearby storage locker to complete the mission. Also he has to remain alive. So if this clipping nonsense happens then I essentially fail the mission and have to restart and hope that it doesn't happen. I'm not sure if death by clipping effects the achievement but I don't want to go through the entire game thinking I've got the achievement in the bag only to find out that, "Oh wait, no. Remember that one guy like ten hours ago? Ya, nope. Sorry. New Game I guess?"
Speaking of new game, if you got the day one content you basically got shafted a bit. You got some extra content, sure, but when you find out that you could only redeem that content on one playthrough you're going to probably be pissed. I actually purchased a few extra Praxis Kits for about 7 bucks because I had the money and it would make the game easier. However, that's a one time purchase so if I want to replay the game I have to either reload a REALLY old save or just nut up and buy it again if I want that. That's really stupid. Sure I've been known to purchase additional microtransactions here and there but those went to my account which is to say as long as I have that account I have some semblance of those rewards. So if I purchase credits in Warframe I still have the knowledge that those credits went to something. If I got extra Cartel Coins in The Old Republic, again, that went to something. Instead of these Praxis Kits being used for one playthrough and then I've got to re-opt in if I want it again. For those of you who don't know, the Praxis Kits are basically your skill points. So I got 11 of them which means that I now get at least five entirely new skills or get to upgrade other skills further. Why doesn't that just stay on my account and get reloaded on every save? That's really stupid and I feel stupid for buying it now!
Deus Ex is an RPG through and through. RPGs predicate themselves on side missions... the good ones at least. Side missions vary but the basic point is that its an extra on top of the game that allows you to take a detour from the main quest to possibly get stronger or just take a break. The weird thing is that in this game sometimes they will actively punish you for exploring by screwing up side missions. There's this point where your abilities are broken and you need to get them repaired. The guy who repairs them tells you to get this thing to help you more. If you need any direction the best way is to get them by simply asking the mob boss. Oh ya, save before hand because if you try and deviate from the straight path the game fucks you over. Unbeknownst to me, I went through exploring the sewers and happened on the mob boss. Somehow they detected me and became hostile. "Oh shit," I thought. "Guess I'd better go back the right way." As soon as I did the game promptly yelled, "Dumbass!" by making all these guys continue to be hostile so the only way to get what I needed was to either kill them all and take it or steal it. After wisely reloading I found out by taking it the direct way this opens up even more sidequests for you. So if I took it by force I would have cut off certain points in the game. While this does make sense it actually gets worse. Another side mission tasks you with solving a reporter's murder by investigating and questioning. You have two main leads and if you don't follow each lead to their own backwards ways you're going to be fucked. One guy hates augs and probably killed her. I questioned him and then looked for evidence... only I should have looked for evidence and THEN questioned him because he refused to talk to me after I had the evidence I needed! The other suspect has info detailing he was not the culprit however I thought he was going to attack me so I knocked him out... which was apparently the WRONG move! The mission finished and no one was caught because the game just decided, "Closure? NAH!" My point is you NEED to save before EVERY. SINGLE. SIDE MISSION or else you risk being totally screwed over for the rest of the game. Keeping in mind all the side content I've purchased is non transferrable so double fucked.

The Meh:
So, spoilers, I haven't finished the game. Regardless if it's "This is so good let it never end!" or I'm just bad I haven't gotten to the end or to any boss for that matter. But apparently at the end of the game it ends on a cliff hanger. I'm personally against this practice in any form seeing as how a series could just straight up end with some loose ends and the fans would have no way of finding out the conclusion. At the very worst the developers have decided to make it part of what I can only presume would be DLC which is complete garbage. On the best end I would see this as a thematic choice which, while I can approve of a content creator making the story they want, it just kind of screws over the fans. It doesn't detract from the game being good but it also doesn't add to it. It just basically means I'm going to drag my feet as much as possible before the ending.

Final conclusion, the game is heavily flawed but good. I personally wouldn't recommend the full game price but honestly if you like Deus Ex then more of it really isn't all that bad. Its definitely not the best and definitely not the worst.

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