When a robustly complex narrative and innovative augmented technology collide!
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is mainly a first person action/stealth shooter. You have the luxury of choosing how you want to play the game. You can go in either guns blazing or sneak around like a techno-thief. The choice is yours, one of the things I really love about this game.
When you take cover, the camera switches to third person, which allows you more time to strategically plan your next course of action. The tech and gadgets were very savvy. I literally sat for five minutes before each mission debating on which gadgets and tech I wanted to use to achieve my tasks. They range from simple cloaking, to the elaborately designed and highly useful remote hacking, and an almost always useful radar heat tracking sense ability. You also have access to experimental augmentations which give you some extremely powerful abilities, such as slowing down time, having an extra layer of skin to up your defense, and straight up shooting blades out of your arms to take out enemies. There is also a non-lethal gadget upgrade that allows you to shoot out electric shock like syringes from your suit to decommission foes as well.
The first half of the game, I went in guns blazing. But as I unlocked more augmented tech upgrades, I found myself stockpiling ammo in the second half of the game as I was using cloaking, time manipulation, and stun/tranquilizer guns to progress silently, smoothly and swiftly. I love a game that offers you as many choices as this game does in order to accomplish your goals. Hacking is also a major part of the game. The goal of hacking is to sneak through each power node stealthily without being detected by the security protocols. The hacking is so deep and elaborate that you have access to a number of hacking software tools that range from worm tracers to nuking power nodes in case you get caught. Luckily, even if you stink at hacking like me, there are plenty of ways around it. You can simply purchase multi-tools which allow for instant hacking, regardless of your hacking level, or you can craft them with spare parts. Crafting is another helpful resource in this game and by simply collecting spare junk around town you can create multi-tools, healing items, and even some forms of ammo.
The game also has a heavy focus on dialogue and choices. Depending on how you play the game, you may have to play through the story twice to see the outcome of certain choices you did not choose the first time. There is also a series of upgrades that allows for more cunning during specific dialogue sequences that I found to be very innovative. You pretty much have to observe a person's actions and psychological compass during their speeches to determine the appropriate response in order to have them see things your way. I personally wish more games would do this.
Here is where the game suffers in some areas. While it does support 4K upscaling and HDR, the graphics on some of the character models were painful to look at sometimes, and the frame rate could have used some work in the outdoor and larger areas as well. It saddened me as some indoor sections and colors were tantalizing to the eyes, yet while running and maneuvering outdoors were choppy at times. The main protagonist Adam Jensen looked great, while other supporting characters I felt could have used a bit more work.
The voice acting is really done well. Adam Jensen sounds like he's seen some things and does not recommend them. The supporting cast is solid too, especially the voice of Viktor, the main antagonist. There's not much background music to support the game's soundtrack, but the sound is really great even without it. It's dark, gritty, and full of underlying tones that immerse you into the story.
The controls may take some getting used to at first, depending on your play style. Luckily, the game offers you a diverse set of control schemes to cater to your individual needs. I, myself preferred the classic FPS control layout, similar to the Call of Duty or Battlefield games, that made it easier to execute commands when needed. I did feel that some of the shooting could have been more polished, but the game made the shooting feel more lifelike, as the aiming wasn't 100% precise unless you upgraded your augmentations to allow for better aiming and reduced recoil. There is also some minor platforming, which I didn't mind too much since your gadgets and tech could be incorporated to it at times. If shooting isn't your thing then fret not, for the controls for taking cover and sneaking throughout vents and shafts are very fluid as well.
The main story clocked in for me at a little over 16 hours, and that was with me performing most of the side quests. There is a new game plus mode where you begin with all of your fancy upgrades from your previous play through. This encourages you to fully complete the game by obtaining any missed upgrades you weren't able to get on your first run because you needed more XP.
There's something deep and complex going on here in this game and I like it a lot. It isn't afraid to take chances and gamble with a deeply layered and cohesive story while offering a variety of methods to execute your missions and coordinate your strategic plans for tackling any objective they toss your way. You play as Adam Jensen. An agent of a covert special forces counter-terrorist unit, who has been pretty much brought back from the dead and is now an augmented human, which adds all kinds of intrigue to the meat of the story. I was particularly impressed that they outright stated the villains in the story were the Illuminati. What was unique was that they managed to incorporate an alleged secret organization, controlling the vast majority of society from behind the scenes, into a game that can be argued to reflect upon society in the real world. They not only managed to achieve this, but at the same time did so in between Mankind Divided's political diversity between regular and augmented humans. The theme of this game is astounding if you stop and think about it because it can be applied so well into reality. We, as humans, continuously are at odds with one another, whether we are arguing about race, religion, or politics. We do not see the bigger picture as to who is really pulling all of the strings. I thought that it was very bold of them to do in this day and age and I really enjoyed the plotline revolving around that ideal. If you have never played a Deus Ex game before, I think this should be a good place to start, as it is most likely the deepest and compelling entry into the series to date.