I love this series, but it’s had a tough time replicating the glory of the first game.
Deus Ex rocked the gaming world in 2000. Warren Spector – the genius behind System Shock – was lured to Ion Storm by George Romero with the promise that he could make the game of his dreams with complete freedom from meddling money grubbers. Say what you will about the outspoken Romero, but letting a genius be a genius was as genius as genius geniuses.
The action/rpg/stealth/shooter with sandbox levels and deliciously grey areas choices still holds up today and was obviously going to be an incredibly tough act to follow. Its sequel Invisible War streamlined many of the deeper mechanics that fans loved and was panned heavily. The PC master race blamed a simultaneous console release for the bastardization of their sacred franchise. Luckily for me, Invisible War was my first Deus Ex so I was blissfully unaware and quite happy with the game. I enjoyed it so much I instantly sought out the original and enjoyed it even more (congratulating myself for enjoying a panned game and preferring the original: wow! better go wax my moustache).
My Deus Ex love affair had me so excited for the Human Revolution reboot that it became my first and only pre-order. I still remember riding out to the EB Games on a hot August day on my sweet Yamaha scooter to pick up the black and gold metal ‘Augmented’ edition. An art book and other sweet crap were mine to never look at again. I still wish I didn’t sell it with the console two PS3s ago.
I really dug Human Revolution at the time and am incredibly curious to go back and see how it holds up. It felt like a streamlined version of Metal Gear Solid IV without the Kojima-ness. A blander but cool enough character, more enjoyable combat with more customization, and dense story that didn’t force you to watch 25 minute cut scenes. Even my foggy memories warn me of potential problems that would rear their head in today’s gaming landscape, but in 2011, I was as happy as Adam Jensen was deadpan. I’m hoping that Mankind Divided implants a metaphorical augmentation of Deus Ex obsession in me and I finally go back and see how HR feels in 2016.
So how does Mankind Divided feel so far?
I’m just over an hour in, after completing the first mission and exploring the first city hub.
I kept my expectations low for a sequel that didn’t need to exist artistically, but we absolutely knew would exist for financial reasons.
So far it’s been an enjoyable mixed bag. The first mission has a nice spectacle and cinematic feel without feeling bogged down. It presents alternate paths and multiple play styles rather elegantly while retaining the momentum of the previous game. You start off loaded for bear which makes sense considering it’s a sequel, but also allows the player to feel out their preferred style of play before sinking time and resources into specific upgrades. The stealth cover system works well enough, although the enemy AI is disappointingly weak. Even on the hardest difficulty you’ll have no problem stealthily dispatching the group of morons hired to protect the first area. I’m hoping the difficulty ramps up, but most reviews have criticized the AI heavily.
It definitely feels much closer to Human Revolution than the original but that’s to be expected considering it’s from the same developer and century. HR did well critically and commercially so there was little impetus on the devs to change a winning formula.
You can check out the first hour of the game played by either American Matt or myself to get a closer look.
What do you think?