After having seen where this game chooses to roll the credits, it’s clear mankind isn’t the only thing that’s been divided.
Set two years after Human Revolution‘s grandiose finale wherein the protagonist sacrificed himself for the greater good, our hero Adam Jensen has been miraculously deus ex (eh? eh?) machina’d back to life and is now on the hunt for the Illuminati. Fair enough. In a surprising twist, however, by the end of the game Adam’s still on the hunt for the Illuminati.
… Wait, that sounds redundant. Oh, right, because nothing gets resolved. Nothing changes. Imagine if Star Wars: Episode 5 ended after the Hoth battle. Sure, the first act has set all of the pieces in place, but where’s the main struggle? The climax? You know, those things they refer to in the business as “acts two and three.”
The answer: nonexistent. This game is nothing more than a two-part setup for the rumored next game, Deus Ex: Humanity United (or whatever human-themed subtitle it’ll have), which will round off the trilogy and make Square Enix approximately twice as much money (they’d hope) as opposed to just letting this game complete its narrative.
To elaborate, this theory comes as the result of an anonymous dev having recently went on a rant to Jim Sterling about working under Square’s corporate umbrella. Therefore, as much as I’d like to think the unfinished narrative is only a perception-related thing on my cynical end, it seems we as a gaming community may not be that lucky.
Beyond that, the gameplay of the, ahem, video game is really solid; a refined version of Human Revolution with a few more gadgets and tighter level design. While the amazing level design is self-explanatory, the gadgets need a mention as they unbalance the experience to a noteworthy degree. I’m not sure if it’s because of the pre-order praxis kits I got for my initial playthrough (I didn’t pre-order the game, mind you, just got a pre-order code for it), but I had a lot of the new augments fairly early on and, frankly, they just give you a massive edge over competition that the old augments from Human Revolution already compensated for, balancing-wise. So now that the fight’s not even remotely fair, I recommend playing on the hardest difficulty out of the gate. I got the pacifist achievement on normal difficulty without so much as a sweat during my first run, so a little challenge would’ve been nice.
Technical aspects of the game can be summed up like this: character models are gross and blatantly polygonal (besides Adam and his AMAZINGLY DETAILED COAT. It’s fucking incredible), lip-syncing is terrible, and framerate issues/memory-leak stuttering are waaaaaaaay too common.
In terms of the content’s quality and quantity, Mankind Divided manages to balance both fairly well considering its halved story. Side missions are varied and abstain from any copy-paste content that, say, Ubisoft sandboxes love to pile on, meaning each mission is a unique experience. That really is the case, mind you; one of the only two boss fights in the entire game is hidden away in a completely avoidable side mission, so do ’em if you want your money’s worth. Beyond that, the main narrative is short and simple, featuring levels that favor sumptuous visuals and attention to detail over runtime. And while the clock won’t be on your side when assessing Mankind Divided‘s bang for the buck factor, venturing into fully aesthetically realized and graphically magnificent venues such as the Aug ghettos of Golem City will remind you you can’t always put a price-tag on art.
It’s a shame, then, that these aspects are consistently overshadowed by the overall package’s mediocrity, chief among the flawed inclusions weighing Mankind Divided down being a tacked-on Breach mode that acts as a free-to-play mobile-esque version of the core game. It exists solely for micro-transaction consumer farming and is devoid of any creativity whatsoever.
Overall, they screwed the pooch. Small time. While corporate shenanigans may have damaged this game’s story irreparably, the love that was put into the title is so apparent that if you were a fan of Human Revolution then I can’t not recommend Mankind Divided.