Review: ‘Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’ Is A Sharp And Sneaky Tune Up

08.24.16 12 months ago 2 Comments
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Square-Enix

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Every Deus Ex game feels like it may be the last. The series always boasts impressive triple-A production values, but rarely the sales to match, so the announcement of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was somewhat of a surprise. Unfortunately, fan enthusiasm has been dampened somewhat by clunky marketing, and questions as to whether Deus Ex is still relevant in 2016. At one time, the series’ mix of action, stealth and RPG elements was cutting edge, but today it’s the triple-A industry boilerplate.

Does Deus Ex: Mankind Divided still sneak past the competition, or could this series do with a few enhancements? Read on for the answer…

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (PC, Mac, Xbox One & PS4)

Artistic Achievement

As you may have heard, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has been the subject of some controversy for a marketing campaign that somewhat inelegantly co-opted certain real-life historical struggles and social movements. Of course, social commentary and allegory are important parts of science fiction in general, and Deus Ex in particular, but the marketing made it appear as if Mankind Divided was going to tackle serious, complex issues in a rather fumbling way. Thankfully, I can report Mankind Divided is nowhere near as ham-handed as its marketing, with phrases like “Mechanical Apartheid” and “Aug Lives Matter” never showing in the game itself (at least to my recollection). Another Internet tempest in a tea kettle.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided takes place two years after the events of its predecessor Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which saw every cybernetically-augmented person on the planet manipulated into a murderous frenzy. Following the “Aug Incident” society has been turned on its head, with the once-powerful Augs becoming a discriminated-against minority, hassled by the authorities and confined to ghettos. Mankind Divided touches on some heavy themes, and does a good job of showing what inequity can force a person to do, but it never delves too deeply into uncomfortable territory. Despite being one of the most augmented people on the planet, our hero Adam Jensen largely sails above the turmoil, because who’s going to tell superpowered Batman what to do? Instead Mankind Divided‘s plot is mostly concerned the the machinations of a laundry list of different factions – government agencies, criminals, pro-Aug activists, anti-Aug activists, The Illuminati, and on and on. This is primarily a political thriller, and it’s not a bad one, although the story does come to a rather premature end.

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