I’ve also been playing full-stealth and pacifist, which is always a bit of a challenge. Over twenty hours in and I still haven’t killed anyone. Hopefully I can take that streak to the end. And yes, they did dispense with Human Revolution’s awful boss fights. I haven’t been forced to fight anyone, though I’ve knocked out my fair share of guards.
It’s a good sequel, I think. Certainly a good sequel to Human Revolution, though perhaps not as forward-thinking as I might’ve hoped. With the new console hardware, with five years separating it from the previous game, there are some disappointments here. Hub zones feel kind of lifeless and scripted, with repetitive civilian barks and Oblivion-style wandering NPCs. Guard AI is maybe a mite too stupid (at least on normal difficulty). Level design has started to feel predictable, with me often saying “Okay if the main entrance is guarded then there must be a vent around here somewhere,” and nine out of ten times I’ve been correct.
Maybe it plays it a bit too safe, in other words. I enjoyed Human Revolution, and I’m fine with Mankind Divided being “That game, but more.” Still, there’s a certain reverence given to Deus Ex—for allowing players so many paths to their objective, for innovating upon the stealth genre, for some truly stellar branching level design. Remember when players found out that if you killed someone in Human Revolution, went through most of the level, and then went back to the beginning you’d find police cleaning up the scene? That seemed kind of amazing in 2011, right?
Set aside the graphics (inconsequential) and the size of the levels (inconsequential provided you don’t mind loading screens) and Mankind Divided feels like it could’ve released alongside Human Revolution in 2011. Again, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I’d happily take this over something that betrays its own legacy, like the Thief reboot.
But stealth games have evolved a bit since Human Revolution, and Mankind Divided doesn’t seem to acknowledge the shifts brought about by something like Dishonored or Metal Gear Solid V or, hell, even the new Hitman (another Square-published game). This is, for better and worse, straight-up Deus Ex.
Despite all that, I’m enjoying it. Usually these sorts of nail-my-hands-to-the-mouse-and-WASD review periods are a slog, sitting at a desk ten or more hours a day trying frantically to beat an embargo. But Deus Ex? I’m having a hell of a good time, and I keep looking up only to realize another hour’s gone by while I futzed around with a murder investigation or hacked my fellow officemate’s computers.
We’ll have more for you—including updates on the game’s performance—closer to next Tuesday’s launch.
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