Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Rating: 7.5
Happy Price: 19.99


The Franchise has deemed and perfected one of the most appealing gameplay styles the game industry has to offer. A combination of Stealth, RPG, Tactical, Action, and Story branching gives Deus Ex its own flavor that nobody has attempted to replicate. In many phases of the game there are options to achieve any mission. Level design incorporates multiple routes to your objective, and dialogue situations offer a multitude of ways to convince someone to see things from your perspective. Abilities and traits also cater to all these options, for example someone that likes to find secret passages will need X-Ray vision and a high jump ability to access unique locations. 

Level Design

My favorite part about playing this game was the ability to choose how I wanted to do things. Taking the time to scout my environment paid dividends over and over again as I was able to find smarter ways to accomplish certain objectives. One of the most notable moments was when I was in an alley and saw two dumpsters and a refrigerator. In order to move the fridge, I needed an augmentation that allowed me to have super strength. I placed the two dumpsters next to each other, then laid the fridge on top of the dumpsters creating a staircase. I then had to use my augmented legs to jump from the fridge to a rooftop, where I was then able to easily break into an apartment window. I'm unsure if the level was designed that way, or if I did that with my brain on my own. Were the designers really aware of that edge case? Someone has these two abilities, at this point in the game, and then they can do certain actions? These moments are the reason I always come back to this franchise and have a love for it. 

One thing that was overused is the navigation of ventilation systems. The placement of some vents was unrealistic, and the scale of them as well. It just doesn't make sense to have a human sized vent behind someone's computer monitor. Think about that, a vent so big a full grown man could crawl through it on full blast during a summer day. I don't think anyone could work in those conditions. Yet these vents are everywhere, and quickly become your highway to sneak around facilities. Another thing is after a while, people would catch wind of a guy that is traveling through the vents and killing everyone. I think they'd start bolting these things shut or monitoring them closer. For the game's purpose, they are great tools to use to quickly hide and avoid being out in the open. But from an immersion perspective, it can be humorous.


The progression tree is deep and your choices of what you upgrade matter very early on in game. The game seems to blossom much earlier than your upgrade tree, hence making you feel limited in many situations. Something new that was added is Overclock abilities. Jensen somehow has these abilities buried deep in his operating system, and they are awakened after a traumatic experience. The downside to these abilities, is they force you to turn other abilities off in order to reroute power efficiently. This limitation makes me feel like I'm shifting things around the longer I play, instead of building myself into something better. You won't have enough ability points to max out everything, so you have to make a choice in what type of player you're going to be. Some things go better together, for example the stealthy hacker allows players to be strategic and smart. If discovered however, the situation can be overwhelming. Or, you can build yourself out to be confrontational.

One of the issues I saw with his however, is hacking and stealth tended to yield better rewards than being a brute. You can't smash a safe, it must be hacked. The game is full of situations where you have to break into safes or apartments. Even though break ins can be done through vents, it's a very time consuming task to find vents and finding out where they lead. The overclocking abilities which are mainly cool attacks, drain all of your battery making them a non economical solution since there will still be remaining enemies once one of them is used. For that reason, I built my Jensen out going deep into the basic abilities which made me feel like a whole part of the game went unexplored. I would have to replay the game building out something different, but the first play through was not fun enough to do that to myself.


The whole premise is there a division between two types of people, the augmented and the naturals. What does not make sense is an augmentation is something added to a human being that suffered from an injury or sickness. For example, someone got maimed and they have a new arm. It never resonated with me there could be social issues surrounding this to the magnitude it does in the game. This cyber punk era is free of racism, but filled with augment discrimination. If you've never played the previous versions of Deus Ex, Jensen suffers an incredible injury and has several augments added to him. He's basically Darth Vader with military grade augments that, and add-ons can be downloaded to make him even stronger. He's basically the strongest augmented human alive. Yet when it comes to taking sides, he stays with the status quo that discriminates against him even though there are several opportunities to join an extremist revolutionary group that demands equal rights. Typical story structure follows a rising action, climax, then falling action. This story keeps you at one monotone level the entire time, with a small climax at the end in which nothing is resolved. It is one of the worst endings I've ever seen. 


The presentation of the story is amazing however. The cinematics are top notch and I would argue are Hollywood worthy. The voice acting and animations are stellar, which keeps you engaged and motivated to keep advancing the less than stellar story itself. Characters are developed very well and maintain there quirks and behaviors consistently over time to develop emotional attachments towards them. For example the villain in this story is only a villain because he defies the status quo and has less than noble methods of maintaining control, but he's also oppressed and doesn't have many options. This is clearly presented, but this also hurts the story because the protagonist seems more like someone taking orders instead of leading with their true views. 

Environment And Artwork

There is incredible detail in almost every facet of the environment and the objects that populate it. This is top notch AAA grade 3d models, animations, and particle effects. The aesthetic of the golden yellow hue that envelops the entire region is consistent and creates some cool shadows and effects. The meticulous details of refrigerator buttons all the way to gunfire animations is stunning and immersing. You will find yourself amazed at the level of craftmanship that went into almost every single thing that was created for this game. I played this on the PS4, and unfortunately some of these items were low resolution and were likely not optimized very well. However on a 4k enabled GPU these things are rendered great. 


A very polarizing experience made this a tough game to get through. One one end the graphics and level design were amazing. The progression system and story were broken however. At times I dreaded what I was doing, and other times I couldn't stop playing. I would say with certainty this game is not as good as its predecessor. To buy this game at full price like I did based on reviews (IGN) would be a disservice to yourself. Wait for it to go on sale for about 20 dollars. 


No comments:

Post a Comment