Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Review
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Cover Art
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
Let's Jensen Up This Joint
by Becky Cunningham

In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the cybernetically augmented Adam Jensen famously "never asked for this." He was a cop-turned-security-guard who was suddenly thrown into an international conspiracy when he narrowly survived an attack on his employer – by being outfitted with lifesaving and incidentally totally badass mechanical augmentations. In that promising but flawed reboot of the Deus Ex franchise, it felt like Jensen was barely keeping his head above water as he was thrown from crisis to crisis.

Now he's back in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and two years later he's a confident, canny double agent determined to unearth the true villains behind the ongoing plot to control humanity's destiny. He has embraced his augmentations, even as he must deal with the fear and prejudice of a society that has grown increasingly divided over cybernetics. And much like Adam, this feels like a far more confident, worldly title that has shaken off the growing pains of its predecessor and come out as a gorgeous, polished near-future spy thriller.

As in Human Revolution, you'll be controlling Jensen in this hybrid FPS / RPG / stealth adventure. Its control scheme has been highly polished, especially the unique stealth-cover system I wish more developers would steal. It still feels great to switch from the usual first-person view to a third-person one while taking cover, which you can do almost anywhere. Once in cover, you're given easy, fluid controls that allow you to dart from place to place, vault over obstacles, and turn corners while remaining hidden. It feels great.

In fact, a stealthy and/or non-lethal run through Mankind Divided is highly entertaining while still being properly challenging. Human Revolution was criticized for giving players lots of fun destructive toys, but not as many if you wanted to take out your foes silently or non-lethally. That is a problem no more. You've got your usual arsenal of lethal weapons, but you've also got a tranq gun, stun gun, mods to regular guns so that they shoot security-disrupting EMP rounds, silencers that can be attached to most weapons, gas grenades, and new augmentations that let you administer some quick electroshock therapy to an entire room of people. You really feel like a spy with a great set of tools that allow you to get in and get the job done. One of your co-workers even asks you to go "Jensen" a problem away, and that feels appropriate.

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Oh, and those problematic forced-combat boss fights from the previous game? No longer a problem. That's all I'll say. You'll see.

Jensen will be doing less jet-setting than he did in Human Revolution, but that has allowed his home base of Prague, CZ to be fully developed as a living, breathing place – albeit one nervously abiding under militarized police surveillance. The setting is an impressive mix of old-world architecture and ultra-modern design, with neon ads flashing above cobblestone streets. Color is used to excellent effect (no more weird yellow-gold film over everything), and observant players will discover little visual treats around every corner.

This excellent visual design is backed up by some top-notch level and quest design. The areas you're infiltrating are basically puzzles to be solved depending on the weapon and augmentation loadout you've chosen. I found one area (Golem City) that dragged on far too long, but otherwise the levels are tightly designed and allow an impressive number of possible "solutions" for reaching your goal. I spent one afternoon discovering about ten different ways to rob the city bank, and I don't think I found every possible method... and that was just for a side quest. Said side quests are beefy and meaningful, by the way. You won't want to skip them.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Screenshot

Now, there's been some controversy over the way that the Deus Ex team has handled the game's commentary on today's society, with phrases like "mechanical apartheid" and "Aug Lives Matter" (briefly shown in some early concept art) feeling insensitive and out of touch to some critics.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Screenshot

None of these phrases are actually featured in the game, so you can be happy about that and file it under "issues with marketing."

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