My review of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (3/10)

Discussion in 'General Gaming and Hardware Forum' started by CT Phipps, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Carbon Dated and Proud

    Sep 17, 2016


    This is a really bad sequel.

    I've been hesitating to do my review of this game for a long time because of a number of reasons: 1. It was a gift from my wife for my birthday. 2. I really-really love Deus Ex. However, just as Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was a beautiful spiritual successor to the original Deus Ex, this basically feels like a redux of the singular disaster that was Deus Ex 2: Invisible War. Actually, no, Deus Ex: Invisible War had a beginning, middle, and end. This just has a beginning and then stops.

    To clarify before we begin, I am not the world's biggest Deus Ex fan. I am, however, in the top hundred. I am a huge fan of the lore, I can recite the games damn near verbatim, and can tell you such facts as Illuminati member Elizabeth DuClare was the mistress of France's Prime Minister. My love for the franchise informs my disdain for the work here and the general sense I've been sold a half-finished product which doesn't seem like it would be that good even if it was finished.

    The premise of the game is Adam Jensen survives the destruction of the Panchea Project from the first game, getting dumped in the middle of the freezing ocean, and being rescued by what is implied to be the Illuminati (before being outright confirmed a little while later). He spends a year in a medical clinic before emerging into a world which now fears and hates Augments. This is due to the "Augment Incident" where

    Mankind Divided used augmentation as a metaphor for privilege so this is kind of a weird reversal that initially took me out of the game before I accepted that, yes, most Augments going crazy and murdering people around them would do a decent job of making them social pariahs. However, this is the start of the game's spectacularly bad storytelling but I'll get back to that.

    Adam Jensen has joined UNATCO, err, sorry, Task Force 29 as part of a secret plan of his and the Juggernaut Collective's to track down the Illuminati. The Illuminati wasn't actually responsible for the Augment Incident but they killed a bunch of Jensen's friends so let's go with that. Stuff happens and Adam Jensen has to stop a big Russian cyborg terrorist who wants to start a race war with Augments. Okay.

    This is where I get back to the issue I mentioned earlier. This game has some of the worst pacing I have ever seen in a video game. Incredibly important stuff is skipped over with a couple of lines of dialogue, new characters are introduced as old friends, old friends are removed from the game, and the motivations of characters are told to us without much justification. I can't help but think Adam escaping the Illuminati's control, finding out the world is now a ghetto for Augments, and ending up a Interpol wetworks operative with the secret friendship of Anonymous would have been a much better game than the one we got.

    The sense of stakes and priorities also feel really askew. The previous games were about stopping a globe-trotting conspiracy out to control the world through transhumanist evolution, money, media, and population control. This game is mostly about making sure a guy who builds ghettos isn't assassinated so he can build a really nice one for Augments to segregate themselves. It doesn't even feel like the main quest because major questions like Task Force 29's purpose, the Juggernaut Collective's goals, and so on are all left unanswered. If they want to make Adam Jensen's adventures a regular franchise, fine, but at least give us something meaty to deal with.

    What's really frustrating is there are some good bits in the game. I genuinely do enjoy sneaking up behind people and punching the crap out of them. I like the expanded range of non-lethal options which the game has provided me. Albeit, I feel like some of the options are absolutely ridiculous and kind of make lethal combat lose its few temptations. Prague is a nice enough city even if I don't want to spend the entirety of my time there. However, even the better elements are twisted as we have a recast David Sarif and the opening level is a Call of Duty-esque attack on terrorists which feels nothing like Deus Ex.

    Then there's the microtransactions. I'm an abnormally forgiving guy about this sort of thing. If Eidos wants to sell "Super Easy Mode" by charging real money to purchase Praxis Kits and in-game currency, that's their business. Except, playing the game, I was constantly blocked off from finishing side-quests unless I had specific augments even early in the game. I couldn't help but wonder if this was meant to be an "encouragement" for me to shell out RL money so I could play the game organically. If so, that's just....not cool, Eidos. Not cool, Eidos.

    There's some interesting ideas about mechanical apartheid and the attempt to get rid of unwanted individuals by segregating them out of sight so they're out of mind. A lot of the darkest and most interesting elements of the game come from appropriating this imagery. Still, I'm not sure it works as a metaphor since even mutants from the X-men are in-born as a persecuted minority. Augments, by contrast, are people who are made.

    I keep trying to figure out something good to say about this game but this is the most disappointing game I've played since Thief (2014). Hell, it may be worse because I liked the Thief franchise but still had Dishonored to fall back on. I also LOVE Deus Ex. This is a massive screw up by Eidos and simply didn't seem to be by people who understood the game or its franchise. I don't know what went wrong but the best thing I can say about this game is it's not as bad as Halo: Guardians. But being shived in the prison yard is not as bad as Halo: Guardians.

    3/10
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2017
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  2. Millim

    Millim Venerable Relic of the Wastes
    Orderite [REDACTED]

    Oct 13, 2010
    I'm one of those people in the "Deus Ex was okay camps" and "HR was a very good game".

    But yeah, I really have little interest in this one.
    I'm kind of just hoping Deus Ex dies right now.
     
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  3. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Carbon Dated and Proud

    Sep 17, 2016
    I don't want Deus Ex to die because it's one of my favorite game franchises. I even have an irrational hope the next game will fix all of the flaws of this game by providing a thematic and interesting ending to Adam's journey. But there's a very big sense of this game being interested in trying to turn Adam's story into a kind of lower-key "cyborg cop show" as while it's hard to do "save the world from the Illuminati" missions, it's easier to do stop the latest Illuminati plot. I could easily see the head honchos at Ubisoft wanting to make it a yearly franchise as it's so much lower key that it doesn't even feel like the same game franchise.

    Deus Ex is many things but it is not low-key. It is a gonzo conspiracy game with the fate of the world in your hands.

    This is like someone really wished they could do the UNATCO missions with JC Denton as a regular series. Which, notably, were great because the whole premise was UNATCO was actually the Gestapo and you figured this out to LEAVE IT.
     
  4. Millim

    Millim Venerable Relic of the Wastes
    Orderite [REDACTED]

    Oct 13, 2010
    Yeah, but I feel there is only so much one can tell the story of argumentation and conspiracy in the same setting before it begins to retread the same things again and again.

    There's many things I really like that I wish would die (such as Star Wars, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Mass Effect etc) as I want to see new things being made. HR was a return to form, but it seems MD suffers from sequel syndrome where the makers made a good start, but then didn't know the best way to continue on that series.
     
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  5. Prone Squanderer

    Prone Squanderer A bit of a Sillius Soddus.

    Jan 3, 2016
    I think I'm with Millim on this one. Deus Ex Human Revolution was enjoyable but the direction they took doesn't quite fit with the tone of the original. I'd rather they just stop now.
     
  6. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Carbon Dated and Proud

    Sep 17, 2016
    I'd be interested in hearing what you thought about that. I'd be comfortable separating the two timelines personally as, better than the Star Wars prequels or not, I find Adam's story would work better without being tied to JC Denton's.

    We're not really in Big Boss vs. Solid Snake levels of interconnectiveness.
     
  7. Prone Squanderer

    Prone Squanderer A bit of a Sillius Soddus.

    Jan 3, 2016
    As would I. Off the top of my head the technology in HR is a bit too advanced. I know before the events of Deus Ex the economy collapsed big time, but most of the tech of the original looks as if it could be what our tech would look like in the future. Plus, augmentations in HR seem to be more advanced than the nanotechnology augs of Deus Ex, but to be fair this could simply be due to the age difference between the games.

    Most would probably see this as pedantic. Maybe, I just like the feel of the first game, how it could happen in our future, rather than having VTOLs and automated drone turrets flying around everywhere unmanned.
     
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  8. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Carbon Dated and Proud

    Sep 17, 2016
    Part of that may actually be how technology has advanced in our world because automated drone turrents and self-flying vehicles are real in our time.

    :)

    Of course, I'm not actually all that happy about how they're justifying cyborgs being so much rarer in the timeline than they were in the original game. In the original Deus Ex, they seemed something restricted to the military.
     
  9. 0wing

    0wing Все умрут, а я волномут

    Mar 23, 2015
    Just play 2027, it doesn't take much time and worldbuilding on bullshit aparteid and explores the theme from a more logical standpoint.
     
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  10. Prone Squanderer

    Prone Squanderer A bit of a Sillius Soddus.

    Jan 3, 2016
    We don't have sentry turrets floating around heavily-populated areas and I doubt we will within the next ten years. Just getting them to fly properly with A.I would be trouble enough.

    But anyway, as disappointing as the game is, 3/10 seems very low.
     
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  11. 0wing

    0wing Все умрут, а я волномут

    Mar 23, 2015
    It is, the gameplay is still there. Phipps, as always, acts on emotions. It's better for him to ditch the scores completely. DX:MD is like 7/10, not bad but underdeveloped in many aspects, thanks to the Square Enix's bullshit decisions.
     
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  12. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Carbon Dated and Proud

    Sep 17, 2016
    Well, we do have drones with guns which can kill people or blow up people. We just don't have them in OUR heavily populated areas.

    The rating really is something I struggled with because there's nothing wrong with the game itself but the writing, which is complete shit. I overlooked the terrible writing in Fallout 4 because the gameplay was fun but Deus Ex's writing was really important to me as are the characters.

    My original score was 5/10 because I do like Mechanical Apartheid as a theme and there's some good quests but the microtransactions as well as issues really irritated me on a level they wouldn't normally with a game series not so close to my heart.
     
  13. Prone Squanderer

    Prone Squanderer A bit of a Sillius Soddus.

    Jan 3, 2016
    They are remotely piloted though aren't they? They aren't small either, well not small enough to happily fly through small streets.
     
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  14. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    It's the Deus Ex curse where every game with an even number, is kinda shitty.
    DE1, cool!
    DE2, not so cool!
    DE3, (prequel but still third game), cool!
    DE4, Not so cool!
     
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  15. Kohno

    Kohno Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    885
    Jul 30, 2009
    DX:MD was an attempted "safe bet more of the same" sequel. Too much so. The game died on me not long after getting back to Praque from the slums. It just didn't seem to be going anywhere and was turning into a usual repetitive quest grind. It's boring.

    I did like the idea of taking the train between different parts of the city. Too bad everything else put me to sleep.
     
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  16. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Carbon Dated and Proud

    Sep 17, 2016
    I'm constantly getting on the Naturals side, just to annoy people. Funnest part of the game.
     
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  17. GroundZero

    GroundZero Tearing up the asphalt

    7
    Dec 31, 2016
    I think they were expecting us to read the comics/novels before diving into Mankind Divided. Personally, I always hated those kinds of practices. As for the game itself, I agree especially on the part where it just stops. I'd at least expected a good enough story like in HR but was disappointed. Now I'm just playing it for the achievements.
     
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  18. joevonzombie

    joevonzombie Buried alive in Golgotha

    618
    Sep 28, 2015
    We may have differing opinions on Fallout and Skyrim, but this review was spot on. Bravo.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
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  19. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Carbon Dated and Proud

    Sep 17, 2016
    http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/2017/01/deus-ex-mankind-divided-review.html

    Here's the final review. I backed off a little to 5/10 because my anger dialed back a bit but I still don't like the game's storytelling, pacing, or shortness.

    The Good

    + Prague is a decently realized city and I actually think it has some intelligent things to say about the militarization of the police as well as racial profiling. The fact the whole of Prague's problems is about a bunch of immigrants who came to the country only to have a backlash against them is a decent metaphor.

    + Marchenko is a decent enough villain but, bluntly, making him a pawn of the Illuminati ruins some of his effect. I would have preferred him to be an actual villain in his own right but they would need the Illuminati to have another presence in the game. I think they shoudl have made the Donald Trump EXPY into an Illuminati member.

    + The sidequests are really really good with things like the Meth/Neon lab, the forging of documents, and other stuff.

    + The gameplay is still pretty damn good.

    + Better nonlethal options.

    + Beautiful graphics despite, ironically, being used to make a city covered in trash and graffiti.

    The Bad

    + Who is Alex Vega? Why are we working for the Juggernaut Collective? How did we join Task Force-29? What is our relationship to this group? When did we move to Prague? Why is Task Force-29 based in Prague? I haven't had this many questions since Prometheus.

    + The absence of major characters save for David Sarif after the first game did such a good job building them all up.

    + The clunky, confused Augs=Minorities metaphor.

    + The fact Adam Jensen's new design makes him look vaguely cartoonish.
     
  20. Prone Squanderer

    Prone Squanderer A bit of a Sillius Soddus.

    Jan 3, 2016
    I miss Sarif's old voice actor.