Deus Ex – Mankind Divided

Eidos Montreal created the newest instalment of the Deus Ex Games – Mankind Divided. The game was released in August 2016 and now that we completed the game, I wanted to give you a summary and my thoughts on it. Warning: spoilers!

 

Mankind Divided is set two years after Human Revolution. This sequel continues the story of Adam Jensen, showing the player more of the world and the powers trying to rule it.

Jensen is now a double-agent, not working for Sarif Industries anymore. Instead he works for Interpol and the Janus Collective, a hacker organisation working against the Illuminati. He is recruited in the book, Black Light, which is a good read before you start the game. It’s not essential, as most things are explained in Mankind Divided, but firstly it’s a good story and you might want to read it if you want to play the DLC called ‘System Rift’.

Now back to the game: Adam Jensen works with the Collective to find out if there are Illuminati inside Interpol, all the time trying to basically save the world.

 

I will now roughly go through the game, mainly focusing on – in my opinion – strong and weak points. This will not be a walkthrough, please head to other sites for that! But, be aware of this as well, there will be heavy spoilers if you haven’t played the game yet!

 

Before the game even really starts, players can watch a recap video. This is nice, as it gives vital information for players who aren’t familiar with Human Revolution, and for those who need a reminder of what exactly happened in the previous game. But this is also one of Mankind Divided’s weak points in my opinion. It’s part of a series and can’t really stand alone. Without the previous game you don’t even know what ‘s going on and the ending is so open, that it doesn’t feel as if you just completed a game, but rather… the introduction to something greater. This can be awesome, but it left me with the feeling of a movie trilogy, with the second movie being the weakest because it tries so hard to be the link between part 1 and 3 and thus loses the great chance to be something amazing on its own.

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And apart from that – the recap video was a bit long for me, but there was a lot of information in it, which made have been too much for a shorter recap.

Afterwards the opening sequence starts, which is also a video with Adam Jensen talking, giving the player an introduction, showing the situation of the world right now. A world in chaos, of augmented vs non-augmented. A world filled with fear of those who were different. The video then changes to Adam sitting inside a helicopter with fellow Interpol agents. The player can now choose the first weapon and how they want to proceed, similar to the last game. This similarity actually felt really nice, almost like ‘coming home’.

 

 

Adam doesn’t seem to be on best terms with his team, especially Macready, who is a former special forces operative, now working for Interpol. He is wary of augmented people due to his experiences during the aug-incident. I actually love such characters, who don’t trust you in the beginning, but later change their ways. But the chances with him are a bit wasted, I think. The player meets him in the beginning, and then later you can have a talk with him, but not much. And I would have loved to see more about him, to see more interaction between him and Adam. And, unfortunately, that’s something that happens in all of the game – really interesting characters you just don’t see enough. They are there, but it feels as if someone shows you a lovely candy, only to take it away once you want to have it. Miller is the same, as well. You can sneak into his apartment and find out information about him, but in the end there just wasn’t enough to make me feel for this guy. He is cool and he could have been so much more, but in the game he just was the maybe yes-maybe no-Illuminati guy inside Interpol. Koller as well – there is a dead guy sitting next to his hiding spot and you can’t even ask him about it.

The entire game gave me this feeling of interesting characters being thrown in, but not fully thought through, or not fully developed? Here you have a cool character, but no you can’t interact with them a lot, nor find out information about them. That only added to the feeling of the second part of a movie trilogy.

The first mission in the game is once again the tutorial more or less. Everything worked smoothly and the visuals are really amazing. I also really liked the voice acting, though I heard voices of claiming the Prague-accent wasn’t good, but as I have no knowledge about the language there, I really cannot say. I liked it and thought the performances to be really good.

 

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Afterwards I think we see the opening video of the game, which is visually strong. There is a voice over again, making it sound like news coverage. It felt more like another cool recap video instead of a real opening to me. Maybe that’s also because Human Revolution’s opening is still one of my favourites and left such a strong ‘wow’ impact, that this one could only disappoint in comparison. The music was not prominent enough and while it perfectly set the tone, it more was a cool amv.

 

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Before the game continues, we are given a scene with the Illuminati. My flatmate who knows the other games of the series squealed and loved it. For me, who only knows Human Revolution, this was a bit of a question mark. Was cool, but I also didn’t really get it; well, apart from these being the Illuminati of course. The scene was cool, nonetheless.

The next part of the game brings us to Prague, to a scene at the station which is familiar to everyone who knows the trailer for the game or has watched some of the footage Eidos had offered us before. There Adam meets Alex, who I really think is a cool character. And this is one of the few I don’t have any complaints with. You can meet her often and get to know her, which is neat. But this scene, especially knowing it from the trailer, made me expect certain things – of which not a lot happened. But what did happen are emotional scenes which were just perfect. Really well done, Eidos!

 

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Adam had been hurt in the explosion, and so the next task is to go to Koller to patch Adam up again. While this reminded me a lot of Human Revolution, it was the perfect way to introduce another character and make the player explore the city. And this is what I really loved about the game – the maps are huge! There are a lot of characters walking around, and there is a lot you can walk through and around without any loading screen. When you travel to another area of the city with the train, the screen does load, but the way it does is nice – we see Adam in the train with various people around him. Apart from the standard loading screens which give us an image and information about the character or the place we see, the train rides were innovative and neat. Later in the game, when you can’t take the train anymore and Adam has to walk from station to station, the loading screen was cool as well as he see him walking along the racks. So, really well done!

Oh, and don’t forget the lovely eye candy we are given this game. Adam can take a shower and while a friend of mine thought this to be totally unnecessary, I really enjoyed this.

What else I enjoyed were the overall designs – of clothes, of exterior, of flats. It shows a great love to detail and just walking around Prague was a pleasure, looking at everything, taking in all the little details here and there.

 

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Once you visited Koller, you get another plot aspect, which made more sense to me once I read the book. There are augmentations inside Adam that weren’t there before. Now it’s upon you to find out who did this – but you won’t get a truly satisfactory answer. You can call Sarif (and it’s really good to see him again! Although I somehow miss his old voice) and he will tell you that he basically has no idea and they weren’t his. You can find out a bit more, but the man suspected to be responsible for it, is dead. So it’s somewhat of a dead end – and I would have loved to find out more here, and I also think it would have been vital for the story. Why does someone put these augs in? When? And where? Stop showing us the candy and start giving it to us, Eidos! I don’t know if there will be more info about all these missing links in the next game, but if there is, I will be both – content, because I finally get information – and discontent, because it’s more of this part 2 of a movie thing.

After heading to the TF29, you get to know some of the workers there, Smiley and Chang most respectively. They are both interesting and later can lead to side mission which give you a bit more time with them. Chang is even part of one DLC, but that DLC was kind of lame; only as long as a side mission, giving hints about Ivan who then did not appear either. There is also the new psychologist who openly approaches you, but to me it was clear that she was a traitor, or rather that something was fishy with her. I would have preferred other character writing here, so that it would have come as a surprise in the end that she was with the Illuminati.

You are then tasked with heading to ARC, the Augmented Rights Coalition, and thus to Golem city, the Aug ghetto. The situation there is really grave, but I liked this level a lot. You later reach Rucker and are supposed to bring him back for some interrogation as there seem to be clear hints that ARC is responsible for the bombing. How you approach this level is entirely up to you, but whatever you do… Rucker dies. And man, this death really touched my heart. He looked so pained and while a part of me is angry that there really is no way to safe him, story wise this is a good move.

 

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Your new pilot is by the way Chikane, he was nice, but I hardly felt for him as much as I did for Malik. But when I read more about him, I was really surprised to hear that he actually works for the Illuminati. I saw no hint of that in the game, but neither did I find this out in the game. I read about it afterwards; so a bit more hinting here *in* the game would have been nice as well.

Miller, of course, is far from pleased that Rucker is dead. But there’s data Rucker gave you, as he suspected something being off in the ranks of ARC. It’s now your choice who to give this data to. And that’s also lovely about this game – there are so many choices which have results later in the game! Sweet!

Your boss, Miller, is meeting with state police, which is your perfect chance to sneak into his apartment to find out more about him, whether he is an Illuminati, in ties with them, or just someone unlucky with his own bosses.  While in his apartment, you find his access card which you later can use to sit down in this big chair in his office and enter the NSN. Walk through the area and hack your way through and in the end you are able to watch a recorded talk between Miller and Manderley proving that they want to frame everything on ARC. Miller, however, demands proof before the talk ends. The talk, however, continues as Page appears and begins to talk about their man inside ARC, which tells you all Rucker suspected is true indeed. They also talk about using Orchid to kill Rucker, and that they will keep their eyes on Brown.

Once Adam leaves the NSN, suddenly the psychiatrist is there. Fuuuunny coincidence, right? That scene was the last straw for me and I was sure now that she was fishy, or even working with the Illuminati.

Adam secretly meets Janus, or rather chats with a projection of him. The talk is short and interrupted and… yeah, I wanted to have more of that as well. Just. Too. Short. He tells you to go to Palisade and do some digging there to find out more about this Orchid. Or, later you can, through side quests and more, find out who created the bombs used in the Prague bombing. BUT, you can only do one of these two. So either do ‘The Heist’ or ‘Confront the Bomb Maker’.

We decided to confront the bomb maker, which is kinda cool, because of all this ‘Church of the machine god’. Really well executed and interesting idea. She gives you something to defuse her bombs, which will aid you in the final battle.

Next is a meeting with Miller to basically tell you what you found out, especially that the bomb maker gave a lot of her little babies to Marchenko, whom you met in Golem City before and who is a part of ARC. That’s why Miller’s first reaction is to be sure of being ARC the culprit after all, but Adam tells him that it’s actually a splinter faction inside of ARC and that he has a secret base in the Swiss Alps. He also manages to get Chikane fly him there right now even though Miller first wanted to tell the others to form a concrete plan.

Once you try to enter the facility, however, Marchenko knocks you off your feet. He also injects you with the Orchid and taddaaa… nothing happens. ..the thing with the Orchid. Adam got injected with it and nothing happens. And all we get as an explanation are what, two sentences, about it in a talk to Vega? If this Orchid is such a big thing, as the game suggests it is, this is really poorly handled.

As soon as Adams wakes up again, he tries to get out of this facility. There you can also either call Vega for help or your TF29 team. We chose Vega and that’s the sneakiest option you actually get. Prague, however, sure has changed once you are back. You can’t move around freely anymore and hopefully you’re good at hiding, or running. Once you reached TF29 aaand once again the psychiatrist is there. Totally not fishy, yeah.

Marchenko fortunately talked about a deal with the Dvali, and that’s where you’re headed to next. There Adam overhears a talk, mentioning London.

And voilà you got your next destination.

Off to London you go, now with the team, to once again save the day. Nathanial Brown and his guests are there, but even though he is quite sure of himself, Adam quickly finds out that the guards in the house, are not what they claim to be. We decided to knock them out.

Once you reach Miller later you found out that he’s been poisoned with Orchid, and dying.  If you decided to do the ‘Heist’, you can help him, otherwise not. But I had the impression that Orchid is deadly to augmented persons, and that’s why I didn’t really understand why he died from it? Miller didn’t have any augmentations?

Anyway, suddenly there’s Marchenko and you have to get to him and beat him, so that he can’t kill any more, and save the guests.

Afterwards there’s another video, basically news coverage of what you did, covering some side quests. The scene then switches to Adam and Vega is Adam’s apartment, where he states that he wants to meet Janus face to face.

Aaaand then the end credits roll.

After them we get another scene with the Illuminati, hinting towards one of them being Janus. There’s also a picture in the guidebook going into that direction. It will be interesting to see if this is true. And the psychiatrist appears again, what a surprise.

They seem to be talking about Adam and how close he is to contact Janus.

And that’s it.

 

Even the end makes you feel as if something’s missing, as if this is a movie with a cliff hanger leading to the next movie. As I said, movie 2 in a trilogy.

 

 

 

There are a lot of ways to play the game – but we always choose stealth. We even tried to get a ghost bonus!

A couple of side missions complete the game, and I’d suggest you do a lot of them if not all. One, the game lasts longer than that and Two, they give you information about the world which is cool.

What the game does well is to show how dark the world is. The soundtrack was often not noticeable for me and I only realised it’s there at all later in the game. The music was definitely stronger in the first part, though as I made the effort to listen to the Soundtrack as a whole, I found it really good.

Storywise there are couple of more aspects I want to talk more about:

Rucker. The Rucker mission was awesome and I so felt for this character. I’m still a tad angry that he was killed off so soon, as he was really cool and I liked him! But that was also some sort of a turning point in the game for me – up until Rucker’s death, the story seemed coherent, everything blended in with another and it was cool. After that, I found it to get weaker.

The bad guy is bad, yes, but he is just there. And he doesn’t really seem that much of a threat to me, as he was also really easy to stop. And I wanted to have some epic scenes with him, like the one in the theatre from the trailer. But nothing like this actually was in the game. Neither was Ivan, you know, the guy with the hood from the trailer? He was only there right before the bombing at the station, and afterwards gone. From the trailer I expected him to be in the game, not as a main character or something, but just to BE in there at all, as a pawn, as… whatever. But he wasn’t in there at all.

 

 

If you compare Human Revolution and Mankind Divided there are a couple of things that are better, and some which I preferred in the earlier game:

Mankind Divided has larger maps, really interesting designs, great visuals and great voice-acting. The story continues where the old one stopped and it takes us further into this world, showing good pacing and feeling for the world we walk through. The main plot, though, maybe was a bit thin for such a long game. I loved the characters which are in the game, but the character development was definitely stronger in Human Revolution. The player felt more for the characters in HR, they seemed deeper and more reformed. Just think of Malik, who almost everyone, including me, wanted to save no matter the cost. In Mankind Divided this feeling for characters was something I missed. They were there, but from the way the scenes with them were written and the characters themselves are shown, we just don’t get enough to really care for them. In this regard, MD definitely is lacking.

We did enjoy playing the game and will soon probably replay it, but I still stick to my metaphor: we are shown cool candy, but once we reach for it’s taken away. Where HR let us taste the candy, MD leaves us hanging.

It’s a good game, but character wise there is a lot of room for improvement.

 

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