Deus Ex: Mankind Divided PS4 Review

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I loved the style and mood delivered by Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Eidos Montreal pitched a convincing future where the definition of humanity was challenged and built a compelling world with numerous approach vectors to flesh out said future. There were well documented issues like the infamous boss encounters but in the end the title’s charms wooed me.

Pre-ordering Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was a no brainer for me; all they had to do was continue to build on top of the well established foundation of Human Revolution. In many respects that’s what exactly what Eidos Montreal did with Mankind Divided. They created a more seamless world with fewer load screens. They expanded and refined Adam Jensen’s capabilities to match modern sensibilities. Most importantly, they continued to develop the world after the events Human Revolution. Unfortunately, unlike Human Revolution, they ended it with far too many unanswered questions. I felt like I played through 20 hours of build up and just as the first domino was pushed over, the credits rolled.

The PlayStation 4 version of Mankind Divided suffered from stutters while wandering throughout the streets of Prague but outside of that “overworld” and into the buildings and complexes, the game performed admirably. Some assets and models were not up snuff but the overall fantastic art made up for these technical shortcomings. As an example, the time honored tradition of NPCs appearing less detailed compared to the protagonist continued in this game as well. I liked the designs the characters but the animation and model quality for anyone that wasn’t Jensen was noticeably inferior. Who knows? Maybe Adam was the only one who can afford overly detailed trench coats.

Some may see the loop of hacking and reading fellow employees’ e-mails rote the second time around but it’s been long enough that I felt it was a good refresher into the events and happenings of that universe without having to be blatant about it. The events of Human Revolution have shone a very negative light on augmented humans. They were seen as danger to normal humans throughout the world. What was once a burgeoning and progressive field of human advancement was derailed indefinitely. No one trusted augmented humans anymore and the game did its best to reinforce that fact. Augs were discriminated against by local authorities and ordinary citizens alike. The only reason Adam Jensen was able to walk around without a care in the world was because of his employer, TF29.

As an agent of this international anti-terrorist agency, it was Adam’s job to untangle plots of terrorism between the increasingly hostile populace. Prague was a hot bed for said tensions because of the government sanctioned segregation of augmented individuals. As an augmented individual, Adam was asked to traverse on augmented only subway trains subjected to stringent security checks. I found it was a decent portrayal of oppression and discrimination that’s a reflection of what many individuals face today let alone the past. However, I also believe they skirted much of the inconvenience and hardships that Adam should have faced by giving him the TF29 badge.

The main story thread had Adam deciphering leads after an undercover operation went awry in Dubai and a terrorist bombing took innocent lives in a Prague subway station. Like I mentioned earlier, this main story thread didn’t lead to satisfactory conclusion. There was a finale but with so many other questions raised, finishing one thread felt short. The sidequests were often more interesting in nature. They dealt with elements in human trafficking, document forgery and other illicit activities that oppressed people face. The sidequests tackled more interesting and varied topics but they often involved Adam dictating outcomes based on my own personal beliefs. It often boiled down to if I should sympathize with “my own” kind or follow the letter of the law. They weren’t tough choices.

Despite its familiarity and impotent ending, I would easily go in on another Deus Ex title. I find the game’s imperfections endearing and the team’s drive to create a plausible but troubled future refreshing. I don’t know if I would get augmented legs or arms but I cannot wait for the time where our phones will be made out of a sheet of glass. I look forward to unearthing weird conspiracies and secrets by rummaging through people’s personal lives. I want to break open the game by overdeveloping my abilities before the first major story beat. I love the idea of ignoring a robust and intricately designed weapon’s system because I chose the non-lethal route. There aren’t many titles that I want to revisit with the “new game+” option but Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is one. There are a few paths through this game that I left unexplored that I would be glad to revisit. I just hope there’s a path towards a sequel in the near future because it desperately needs one.

Ratings Guide

Verdict:
I like it

Checkpoint: Fitbit Edition

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I got the Fitbit Alta for my mother earlier this month and I’ve been very impressed with the fitness band. The Alta may be less capable than my Garmin Vivosmart HR, but it has the essentials while looking stylish and, most importantly, impressive software backing it up.

If I had to do it all over again, I would buy the Fitbit Alta. The Vivosmart HR’s heart rate sensor seemed to have become more inaccurate after the latest 3.40 update. The activity sensor isn’t as accurate as I hoped; it often fails to notice that I’m on a walk and not just moving about. Then there’s the software side of things which missed at least 4 days worth of activity and steps since I’ve started using the band. That’s unacceptable.

Meanwhile, the Fitbit Alta is running laps around Garmin’s Connect software by displaying live step updates.

I continue to chip away at Deus Ex: Mankind Divided but like with the Witcher 3 last year, I’m very tempted to just wait for performance patches or when I pick up the PlayStation 4 Pro later this year. The sluggishness and stutters while wandering through the city of Prague is sad. The performance is adequate while traversing in apartment complexes and other interior spaces but as soon as I’m out in the open, the game struggles to maintain acceptable performance.

Your E3 Wishes Granted

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“It’s a hearts and minds game.”

It’s a phrase that I heard uttered after Sony’s E3 2013 press conference and suspect after this year’s E3 conferences from all publishers, we’re going to hear more and more of it.

It began with Bethesda’s late Sunday evening presentation where they showed off lengthy demos of Doom and Fallout 4; Pete Hines kept the pace brisk but slowed it down when it mattered. Todd Howard was brought on stage to speak to those who were forgoing Game of Thrones and other Sunday night programming to watch a streaming presentation. They knew who they were talking to. He dropped F-bombs when appropriate and tried his best to pitch Fallout: Shelter as a mobile game for those who scoff at F2P trappings.

It was an impressive showing for a publisher who never put on a show before. But was that a one off? Of course not.

Monday began with Microsoft and the announcement of Xbox One backwards compatibility. They followed up with Xbox One Elite controller targeted at the hardcore audience with its swappable components. They would mention its exorbitant price tag away from the cameras but the message was clear: “We’re catering to you, the gamer.”

Electronic Arts gave us more Mirror’s Edge and intentionally reminded us that we’re not going to see Faith pick up a firearm in this game. They tried their best to make their sports and other properties appealing but they knew why we’re here and why we would stick around after Pele and the Hoop God made their appearances. It was no coincidence that Star Wars: Battlefront was played on a PlayStation 4. A PC would have brought skepticism about the console version’s quality. They made sure that we saw those PlayStation prompts.

Ubisoft made us laugh and continued the trend of “one more thing” with the reveal of Ghost Recon: Wildlands at the end. Alicia Tyler continued to win fans over with her enthusiasm and energy. Her debut on Ubisoft’s stage may have been awkward at first but I felt she won everyone over. The annual Ubisoft message isn’t always palpable but she livens it up considerably.

And then there was Sony who transformed themselves into the genie of E3 by granting three wishes. Final Fantasy VII Remake, Shenmue III and The Last Guardian all made appearances on their stage. Not all three were exclusive to them but it was damn obvious that they wanted the PlayStation 4 attached to all of these. There was no lengthy TV show pitch and while it would have been nice to see VR on the big stage, I felt it could have been another Move situation if they demonstrated it on-stage; fine for those who already bought in but a tough sell to those who’re peering from the outside.

Nintendo’s digital event was marred by the fact that it didn’t have much to say this year. Nintendo reminded us that NX is a 2016 thing and we should be content with the likes of another 3D FPS Metroid game on the Nintendo 3DS. They pushed more Amiibos and celebrated Mario but it was evident that Nintendo’s 2015 was considerably weaker.

Square  Enix showed the people what they clamored for with Kingdom Hearts 3 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided footage, they flexed their quality mobile offerings by leveraging a known quantity like Hitman Go and they promised Rise of Tomb Raider would have tombs. They even brought in PlatinumGames to work on a new Nier title while promising JRPG fans that they are committed to JRPGs with the creation of the Tokyo RPG Factory studio.

Square Enix served as a nice summation of everyone else’s E3 presentation. They focused on what worked and showed their audience that they’re understanding what their fans want — or at the very least — starting to listen. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get that Final Fantasy XII HD Remake that I wanted or Half Life 3.

Nearly Everyone Did Well

I have some marks to give out to the E3 press conferences. I’m rating pace, content and the delivery of said content.

  • Bethesda: A-
  • Microsoft: A
  • Electronic Arts: C+
  • Ubisoft: B-
  • Sony: A
  • Nintendo: D+
  • Square Enix: B+

Some personal notables:

  • ReCore and Horizon: Zero Dawn were the two new intellectual properties that immediately grabbed me.
  • A new Nier? Yes, please. The first one was unique but flawed. I’m glad Square Enix are bringing in action experts to help
  • Star Wars: Battlefront surprised me with how well it performed on consoles and if I’m not mistaken, DICE are targeting 60FPS.
  • I hope Tomb Raider Go lives up to Hitman Go’s lofty heights.

Checkpoint: E3 2015 Edition

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E3 2015 doesn’t officially start until Tuesday but the plethora of leaks, the Bethesda E3 presentation later today and the beginning of the Amazon.ca E3 2015 pre-order promotion, it felt like the annual trade show already kicked off.

I’ve already pre-ordered a handful of titles including Ratchet & Clank, Street Fighter V, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood and Fire Emblem If. I’m sure I’ll pre-order more but not if they’re exceeding $74.99 MSRP. Even with Amazon.ca’s 30% off, it’s a lot of money for titles that could plummet in price within 3 months of release.

I have a free day off so I’m taking Monday off to enjoy the E3 festivities. I’m hoping for some real surprises but I’m not holding my breath. I look forward to footage of announced games and when they’ll finally ship. Titles like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Mass Effect 4 are known quantities but I want to see them realized for the latest generation of consoles. I want to see Black Ops III and if DICE’s Battlefront will look as good as the trailers and screenshots they’ve released.

Although a lot was leaked, there’s still a lot to look forward to.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s fantastic. I keep chipping away at it and it continues to reward me with amusements. Game of the Year 2015 has an early contender.

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