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I bloody love Deus Ex, but…

I bought Mankind Divided just after Cyberpunk came out. I was hankering for some dystopian sci-fi and Deus Ex is one of my favourites. Even in spite of that shit boss battle in Human Evolution.

It sort of feels sad knowing it might be the last Deus Ex game of its kind, what with the studio behind being redirected to other projects like that Avengers game.

Deus Ex, I think, has managed to strike a good balance between a linear story and an open world. Your main playground is in Prague, and it's great to be embedded in a world that doesn't speak British or American English by default. It is a little disappointing that a lot of the dialog from the non-local characters completely butchers Czech with those American over-enunciated O's (PRAHGAH DOUGHVOSE, ugh), and the local characters themselves often have lines that avoid pronouncing those things. Nice mix of local Czech, other central european accents, and some eastern european heading towards Russia too.

The story's always going to head in one direction with some branches giving you a different flavour of it, and it's ambiguous and well written enough that the choices aren't so clear cut. That makes for great replayability if you put some time between playthroughs.

In classic immersive sim form there are plenty of ways to approach a particular problem and I often found that I discovered other opportunities when revisiting areas later on, that I didn't spot in the first place. It's an interconnected world to an extent, full of flimsy walls and huge, sturdy ventilation systems. Not to mention the scattering of items that can give you passwords and key codes to unlock things without hacking or breaking stuff.

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Where does Mankind Divided suffer? Filler material.

The main map is in Prague but is split in half. You have to travel the metro to get from one half to the other. The bigger part of the city has three districts and three metro stations, but there's no reason to use the metro to go between them unless you want a 20 second loading screen; they're all walkable. But you do have to use the metro to go from the poor district to 'downtown' and back.

At first this seems good, since you basically have your starter area and an initial bunch of missions and there's no need to use the metro at all. As the game progresses, though, missions will have you darting back and forth like a pinball, from one end of the city to the other, to the other bit across the tracks, and back again, and again after that.

It's as if the missions were designed to pad out as much time as possible by putting landmarks at diametric opposites to each other, and the back and forth is fucking boring after you've done it enough. This gets worse later on as the game forces you to repeatedly backtrack by making missions cover as much surface area as possible.

Even worse is that these sidequests are only really triggered when you're as far away from their location as possible. So you're going down an elevator thinking you've tied everything up and then you get a call, "please come to , I've got what you need!".

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And you're like, fucking _really_? You tell me this now!? I can't see a reason for this except to make the game feel longer, but it really doesn't need to feel longer because it's a bloody solid game already.

My final complaint is the environmental storytelling and your character's lack of reaction to it outside of specific sequences. If you read enough emails and notes and such like in the game, you'll get a pretty decent idea of what's going on and the events that have been taking place since you found yourself back in Prague. You'll find smoking gun evidence in some of these messages. There is no acknowledgement of this so your reward for exploring is feeling like Jensen is a fucking dumbarse. You see the chaos and conspiracy unfold around you and everyone is asking him for proof and he's like, … heh.. um… I don't have time to explain just trust me. And then everyone else falls in line. Just trust us, we know it's bad!

It's possible to expand on this part of the story without going into an exposition dump.

Anyway…I can forgive the game for that. The gameplay is just… mwah. And if you find yourself a hankering for some good, choice-heavy, dystopian first person shootin' n' stealthin' then you can't go wrong with these games. The original Deus Ex is a classic but might feel a bit dated; Invisible War is interesting but ignorable. Human Evolution is a good return to form and Mankind Divided only expands on it.

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