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Review of “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided” for PC

After having seen where this game chooses to roll the credits, it’s clear mankind isn’t the only thing that’s been divided.slider_459_5

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.

The Scrap Yard

Microsoft’s Rise of the Tomb Raider Exclusive Move is Genius

All of the Lara Croft game case-thumpers went NUTS yesterday when they saw that the proper sequel to 2013’s Tomb Raider was going to be exclusive to Xbox One — at least for quite a few months. There was a whole new level of rage on the internet, one I’ve never seen before. All the little Sony fans and PC players quickly rallied to their best friend change.org to try and change gigantic corporate entities’ minds via some silly digitally signed documents, even. Needless to say, Crystal Dynamics caused quite the stir of controversy.rise-of-the-tomb-raider-splash-left

This means a few things, which I will dissect here. For one, it means Microsoft is stepping up their game (pun completely intended), and really making Xbox One a must-own on top of other great exclusives like Sunset Overdrive, Quantum Break and the well-received Forza and Halo series. Rise of the Tomb Raider just seals the deal.

On the other hand, this is a HIDEOUS move for Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix. They’ve just effectively alienated a large percentage of their fanbase, and when they go back to being multiplatform….. well, let’s just say that it might be more economically feasible for them to just keep Tomb Raider as an Xbox One exclusive in the future (this might just be what ends up happening because of how hurt the Playstation and PC players feel).

Lastly, it means that you, the average gamer, will either kneel to their demands and fork over hundreds of dollars for a console just to play the sequel to How I Met Katniss’ Mother, or you miss out on the game and fume angrily on the internet with stupid change.org petitions that will be promptly ignored until the limited exclusivity timer is up OR until the day you die if Microsoft actually intends to keep it eternally exclusive.

Since I didn’t really care for 2013’s Tomb Raider, I don’t get the fuss. Buuuuut, I will say, you can’t honestly blame Microsoft. They just fronted the boku bucks with an offer attached — Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix were the ones that accepted the offer and embraced it. 

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Review of Thief for PC

Time to steal five minutes of your time ('cuz it's Thief). Eh? Eh?
Time to steal five minutes of your time (‘cuz it’s Thief). Eh? Eh?

Formal reviewing format out the window, I’d rather just address what critics have complained about and whether or not it’s justified:

1.) Critics say it’s a linear obstacle course rather than a proper multifaceted stealth game.

This is true. There are usually only one to two paths at your disposal for any given mission, and odds are that you’ll only have the equipment to use one of them, most of the time. The fun of dodging guards and their patrol routes is present, and the sensation of ducking past an entire area completely unseen is a rush, but ultimately it is little more than an obstacle course. A very stealth-oriented obstacle course.

2.) The frame rate and graphics are bollocks.

Some people actually believe this. It’s completely false. If you play on the PC version and have the necessary setup, you can have a stellar frame rate and have every visual setting maxed out, no problem. I do hear that the PS4 and Xbox One versions have crappy frame rates though, so choose your system wisely.

3.) The boss fights are utter garbage.

This is semi-true. I mean, they shouldn’t exist in the first place for Thief, but considering they’re nowhere near as bad as everyone says they are, the fights aren’t a deal-breaker. The penultimate fight is a hassle but far from horrible if you come prepared with super sharp arrows, and the final fight is piss easy if you have some health-food stuffs with you.

4.) Thief just isn’t fun whatsoever.

Almost every review of this game that was negative said it’s because the game is just piss poor. I’d like to respectfully disagree. The game is divvied up into eight chapters, and while I can only say I had fun with the latter half, it was enough fun to justify a purchase. The first four chapters are so absurdly linear and anti-intuitive gamer that I could barely plow through them, but chapters five through eight made up for this (by and large).

Pros:
-Cool “swoop” mechanic, makes you feel like a real thief speeding through the shadows
-Nice mechanics/tools, allows for limited improvisation
-Very grounded approach to a stealth game
-Gloomy atmosphere (once you play the game you’ll see the pun I just made)
-Decent boss fights
-Visuals and framerate (tech specs) are downright gorgeous on PC
-Combat is horrible

Cons:
-Half the game is rubbish
-Not a lot of creative level design present, few optional paths
-Boring characters
-Garrett’s corset
-Combat is horrible

I got this game back when it launched and had yet to finish it until today, to give you an idea of how compelling Thief is. If you can nab it for thirty dollars or less, power to you. Get it if you absolutely love the stealth genre.

Video Games

Tomb Raider NYCC 2012 Demo Analysis

Alright, so to start off with the Comic-Con coverage, I should probably put in my two cents about the Tomb Raider reboot demo I played. First, check out my demo gameplay of it. Now, onto the analysis!

As I sort of expected, it’s a cinematic Uncharted. Not the good kind, either. Now, I know it’s just the demo but there was almost nothing to do other than jump, watch a cutscene, walk down a linear path, cutscene, jump again, etc.. It just wasn’t impressive.
As far as graphics go, they were nice but not enough to justify the horrendous lack of actual gameplay. I’m glad the majority of Square Enix titles and video games in general are starting to move away from the cinematic phase, but it definitely looks like Tomb Raider still might fall into that trap. Only time will tell, so stay tuned for future Tomb Raider coverage!

On a happier note, things only improve from here. So look forward to more NYCC analysis posts super soon!