I was planning on writing a post about a month ago. I was also planning on writing said post on Fortnite Battle Royale, not Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. But I've played more of Mankind Divided lately than I have of Fortnite, and I also have way more feelings to express about Mankind Divided than I do Fortnite.
Although I played the original Deus Ex, I wouldn't say I was one of those ravenous fans who constantly go on about what a flawless masterpiece it was. I played it, I immensely enjoyed it, but I never finished it. A mix of both the game engine being shoddily optimised and me getting stuck at a certain point led to me losing interest after a while. But then I played Deus Ex: Human Revolution and I finished that within a week. Although it wasn't as deep as the original game, it definitely captured it's spirit and design (aside from the infamous bosses that you HAD to kill). And on top of that it had a unique look and sound to it that still makes it one of my favourite games from the past generation.
Now we get to Mankind Divided, which I have yet to finish, but have a fully formed opinion of. And unless the ending is going to blow my balls into space with how amazing it is, I'd say Mankind Divided is a massive disappointment. There is something about the opening mission which brought this across in record time. The way the tutorial level played out, the way mechanics were introduced and the way the game controlled - everything felt slightly off. The way your allies spoke to you felt unnecessarily aggressive, and the voice work felt awkward and stiff. Suddenly being thrown into a firefight in the middle of a sand storm whilst on a time limit was also a bit of a dick move on the games part.
As the game and the story progressed, this ill feeling didn't disappear. Even basic things like character animations during conversations started to get on my wick. It's not that they were terrible or anything, they just looked off. And on the gameplay side of things, everything felt half-assed and poorly explained. There was the option to start unlocking new augments but it already felt like I had everything I needed to take on the missions. And the addition of the experimental augmentations ironically add nothing to the game. I have trouble putting this into words, because technically speaking, there isn't really anything wrong with the game. It looks better than its predecessor, and is visually more consistent when switching from gameplay, to cutscene, to cinematic, and the decision to set the game in Prague was a great choice to give it some more personality.
But when it came to carrying out the missions, I always felt like the controls were less refined than before, that the level design wasn't as intuitive as it should have been, and the conversations not as engaging or significant as they previously were. Everything in the game felt like it had been streamlined in the wrong way, with depth taken away from areas where it wasn't needed, and fat left over from the previous game where it could have been cut down. And some things were simply not explained correctly, or not explained at all. I must have been deep into hour six before the game finally started talking to me about multi-tools and their various uses. Conversely I sure am glad the game took time out to explain the collectible QR codes you can find throughout the campaign that you can scan with your phone. That didn't destroy my immersion whatsoever.
On a final, petty, personal note, the music is nowhere near as incredible as it was in Human Revolution. I still have that games soundtrack saved on Spotify. And whilst Mankind Divided has some of that same ambience and atmosphere about it, it doesn't come close to bringing out the feelings Human Revolution made me feel. To me, the soundtrack is a microcosm of the entire game; hitting the same beats as the original, but with nowhere near the amount of creativity or energy.
I might end up doing a second write up once I finish Mankind Divided, although that will take a while since I am without a TV for at least the next several weeks, maybe months. And once I do get a TV to hook my PS4 into, there's a good chance I'll just end up playing Fortnite: Battle Royale again instead.
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