N ow Play­ing: deus ex: mankind di­vided

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - Sa­muel Roberts

Pub­lisher Ei­dos Mon­treal / De­vel­oper Ei­dos Mon­treal / for­mat Xbox One / re­lease date 2016

I’m well over a year late to the last Deus Ex game, and I fool­ishly played Dis­hon­ored

2 first, which has spoiled ev­ery­thing. Arkane’s as­sas­si­na­tion sim has slicker move­ment, more imag­i­na­tive lev­els and cooler pow­ers than Deus

Ex – it’s a bet­ter stealth game in ev­ery way, and they both do very sim­i­lar things.

And yet, in Deus Ex, I feel more free­dom to do what I like. In Dis­hon­ored

2, I never kill civil­ians be­cause I’m play­ing as Emily, a queen, and stab­bing ran­doms in the street doesn’t feel like some­thing a queen would do. But de­spite Adam Jensen, Mankind

Di­vided’s ro­bot su­per­man pro­tag­o­nist, be­ing an agent of In­ter­pol, I feel like sim­i­lar re­stric­tions don’t ap­ply. This is where Ei­dos Mon­treal’s game has the edge for me.

A guy gives Adam a bit of sass in the re­cep­tion area of a ho­tel. I punch him in the face and knock him out while he’s sat read­ing some­thing in an arm­chair. Two guys at the train sta­tion are bad­mouthing aug­mented peo­ple with Jensen in earshot. I stick a blade in both of their tor­sos and walk out of the train sta­tion like noth­ing hap­pened, and de­cide their deaths are deeply ironic. I con­stantly knock out se­cu­rity guards and run away be­fore their bud­dies can see what I’ve done, or throw a grenade into a pop­u­lated room, then turn in­vis­i­ble and sprint for the train be­fore any­one can get mad at me.

I am the worst per­son in Prague, but I feel like Deus Ex celebrates that. This se­ries has al­ways been about putting the power of choice in the player’s hands, and tra­di­tion­ally we think about that in terms of choos­ing stealth or com­bat-heavy strate­gies, di­a­logue op­tions, or good and bad end­ings.

Mankind Di­vided has those, but it also lets you walk into a guy’s apart­ment and pick up his fridge for no rea­son, or throw a sleeping body into some trip mines be­cause it might be hi­lar­i­ous. The weird­ness is the magic of the game, and af­ter a pretty in­ten­sive 48 hours where I beat all of its sid­e­quests and ev­ery DLC, I en­joyed many of these stupid mo­ments more than the ac­tual lev­els. Deus Ex lets you be a to­tal weirdo.

New pet

Later in the game’s story, Prague is un­der lock­down from the law en­force­ment and they’ll open fire as soon as they see Jensen. I de­cide to kill ev­ery guard in the city for this dis­crim­i­nate be­hav­iour, but I’m not pre­pared to try that hard. I hack a tur­ret that’s guard­ing a train sta­tion, then pro­gram it to at­tack en­e­mies in­stead of me. I then awk­wardly carry it around be­tween dif­fer­ent districts and plonk it down next to a pocket of en­e­mies.

Af­ter they’re gunned down, I pick it up and carry it to the next pop­u­lated lo­ca­tion. All in all, I prob­a­bly kill about 15 en­e­mies this way while Jensen hides be­hind a car. It looks silly, as one small ro­bot tur­ret wipes out an en­tire po­lice force, but I like that I have the op­tion to play the game this way without any­thing in the story telling me off.

There are plenty of NPCs who serve no pur­pose in Mankind Di­vided, who are just

there to pop­u­late the world. Ev­ery time I find one by his or her self, I knock them out, be­cause who’s go­ing to stop me? Af­ter that, I wan­der back onto the game’s crit­i­cal path, where Adam Jensen works for In­ter­pol and in­ves­ti­gates ter­ror­ism for a liv­ing. I like the idea that my Jensen is lead­ing a dou­ble life: in­ter­na­tional do-gooder to col­lect his pay­check, and to­tal bas­tard who plagues the streets of Prague in his down­time.

Di­alling out

I partly at­tribute my chaotic methods to the game’s story, which fails to en­gage me at all. There’s so much wordy di­a­logue about or­gan­i­sa­tions, be­tray­als and the game’s pre­tend world pol­i­tics that I in­vari­ably tune out. What the Xbox 360’s Hu­man

Rev­o­lu­tion had was a much sim­pler story where you were aware of what Adam had lost at the start of the game – namely his body parts, re­placed with pow­er­ful aug­mented ones, and (seem­ingly) his part­ner Megan. This gave the story an emo­tional weight.

Mankind Di­vided lacks that and it’s a real prob­lem for me.

Jensen looks cool in his ridicu­lous jacket and he has the same ex­cel­lent grav­elly voice ac­tor as be­fore, but the story isn’t re­ally his. It’s about the po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty of a world where aug­mented peo­ple are hated, and that’s not ex­plored in a par­tic­u­larly res­o­nant way by the game’s di­a­logue or cutscenes. Af­ter nearly 50 hours, I didn’t feel like I’d learned any­thing new about Jensen. Without a story that I could tune into emo­tion­ally, then, it let me ig­nore what I per­ceived as the right way to do things more than ever be­fore. If I don’t care about the fic­tion, I don’t have to fol­low what I con­sider its rules. So how about I knock out ten guards then put them into a big pile and take a screen­shot be­cause it’s funny? Or how about I break into a fancy apart­ment, knock both res­i­dents out then throw their bod­ies off the bal­cony onto the streets be­low and see how the law en­force­ment re­acts? (The an­swer: they don’t like it at all.) I often con­sider the moral­ity of what I do in games, and whether my ac­tions line up with the char­ac­ter I’m in­hab­it­ing, but here I just wanted to do anti-so­cial things and see how

Deus Ex would re­spond. I wanted to be the guy who used his pow­er­ful ro­bot arms to deal with what would often be the pet­ti­est grudges, and I found a sur­pris­ing amount of joy in do­ing so.

“Here I just wanted to do an­ti­so­cial things and see how Deus Ex would re­spond”

above Af­ter the opener, you’re pretty much stuck in Prague for most of the game.

be­low I’d knock all of these NPC s out and gladly ri­fle through their pock­ets.

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