Thursday, August 25, 2016

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'Deus Ex: Mankind Divided' Is Worth Buying Review

Too often, video games are a qualified affair on launch day. A good game with great potential, we might say, or we’ll wait to see how the community develops, hopefully the bugs get ironed out, the DLC schedule looks impressive — etc. No Man’s Sky, out earlier this month, is a classic example. A wildly ambitious game, with some genuinely exciting mechanics, but obviously flawed at launch and likely much better given a few months to a year. It’s why it’s nice to review a game like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, out today on PS4, Xbox One and PC. It’s a satisfying, complete game that delivers on its promises with grace. It is not a perfect game, but it is a game that here, on its launch day, feels absolutely worth buying. And it’s nice to say that sometimes.

We wonder, for a second, what makes a Deus Ex game. There’s really only been two. We tend to use the word “immersive sim,” a game that attempts to paint a complete world through depth rather than breadth. A game like Skyrim or Fallout wants the world to feel whole because there’s always another adventure over the next hill, but Deus Ex wants the world to feel whole because we’ve been offered a rounded and real slice of it. It offers the player multiple paths through an environment that seem to encourage but don’t require stealth. It offers a world of pocket secretaries and hackable PCs that fill out the little details of the people you’re punching in the throat. However it is you’ve done something, you’ll always see another way in at the last moment. You can say this about the cyberpunk dystopia of Deus Ex: it is certainly well ventilated.

When Human Revolution came out in 2011, it seemed comically unlikely that a modern game could capture the magic of the originalDeus Ex, especially after that other game nobody talks about. And yet it did! It never quite rose to those lofty heights, but it somehow came out of the gate with that essential feeling intact, and it felt like a true accomplishment, a game that we had assigned to a rosy past come barreling through into the present. Most importantly, its success guaranteed more games, and it’s brought us to today.

And so that’s the good news: Mankind Divided feels like Human Revolution, in the best ways possible. It doesn’t bring much more to the table, but we’re as stocked with satisfying infiltration, high-minded philosophy and oddly charming gangsters as ever. The writing is not quite as strong as its predecessors, but the gameplay is there in spades, and fans of the older game will feel right at home. It’s got those takedown animations and the satisfying feeling you get by sliding open a well-hidden vent, and that’s pretty much all I needed here. Eidos Montreal has once again managed to not screw it up, which is no mean feat.

There are problems worth mentioning. The “mechanical apartheid” concept plays well only occasionally, and feels flippant at its worst.  It’s a setup for a sequel, and those are never terribly satisfying on a narrative level. It lacks the globetrotting panache of either Deus Ex orHuman Revolution, and its focus on a single city makes everything play out a little smaller. On the other end of the spectrum, its loose and hard to follow narrative don’t quite deliver. At the end of the day, I didn’t fall quite as deep into this world as I did with those other two titles. Those are topics for later posts, but worth considering.

But did you like Human Revolution? Do you like the idea of explorable semi-sandboxes full of people to punch in the throat? Buy this game from G2A here or from Amazon:

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