|System: PS4, Xbox One, PC|
|Dev: Eidos Montreal|
|Pub: Square Enix|
|Release: August 23, 2016|
|Players: 1 Players|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol|
I did find the central metaphor of augmented people standing in for every oppressed group in history to be a bit strained. Sometimes it's done well, like the subway guards who harass Jensen for identification and chide him when he steps out of bounds. Other times, like the near-perfect replication of Jim Crow laws (except applied to augmented people instead of people with African heritage) throughout the city, it feels off. I don't buy that a newly-spawned fear of violence from augmented citizens would cause the exact same kind of discrimination that resulted from centuries of belief in white racial superiority. I'm also unconvinced by the fact that all other forms of discrimination seem to have disappeared in favor of this single augmented vs. "naturals" struggle.
That's why it's fortunate that while the struggle and suffering of everyday augmented citizens is a strong theme in the game, much of your actual time is spent doing awesome spy things like running rings around the local organized crime boss or smoothly talking down a crazy cult leader (or, if you're less subtle, punching through walls to get into locked rooms or giving a rude cop a stun gun to the face). The game does a great job of making you question who to trust – it's easy to feel like you're going to be betrayed by your close associates at any moment – and motivates you to dig up as much information as you can on the complex power struggles happening in Prague and around the world.
You will have to make choices between working more closely with your anti-terrorist task force or the hacktivist coalition you've joined in your search for the truth, and you'll also have to decide how much collateral damage you're willing to inflict along the way. Many choices aren't clear-cut (though your dialogue choices are fully spelled out – thank the MachineGod), and you may not know the full repercussions of your choices for some time, which makes you really think about what you're doing. Top all this off with some heart-pounding escape sequences, and Mankind Divided really does feel like an interactive spy movie.
It helps that the voice direction is far stronger this time than it was in Human Revolution. Elias Toufexis is much stronger as Jensen this time around, putting more emotion behind his lines. You can actually tell how Jensen feels about the things going on around him, as he's allowed to sound angry, sarcastic, and (most surprisingly, considering his previous overly-stoic demeanor) often compassionate. The rest of the main cast is voiced quite well, and although there are still some questionable accents here and there, overall it's at least on par with most other games of its type.
I'm so happy that this team at Eidos Montreal was able to continue on with the Deus Ex series. While Human Revolution was a promising title with some glaring issues, Mankind Divided is the work of a mature development team that has had the time to fix their weak points and improve on their strong ones. The result is a quality cyberpunk spy adventure with strong visual and level design, true opportunities for players to exercise choice, and some really cool cybernetic toys to play with. Go ahead, be the kind of Adam Jensen you want to be. Just don't forget to watch your back.
Date: August 19, 2016