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Deus Ex: Mankind Divided - power and choice in cyberpunk Prague

Deus Ex 2

Games like Metal Gear Solid V have changed our assumptions about what emergent sandbox games can be, but Deus Ex is about density rather than size. The Prague theatre is a warren, and there are plenty of ways in. You can climb in through a window into an office protected by a laser grid. Going left leads you to a couple of ladders that get you to the roof. There’s a vent there that drops you right into the bowels of the building. Go right and there’s a moving platform that you can activate using a biocell, the biological batteries used to recharge Jensen’s abilities. I used this platform to get a huge box onto a ledge, which I then jumped on to find a second way onto the roof. You can even enter through the beautiful glass dome on top of the theatre. Alternatively, if you want to test your guns, just walk in through the front door.

The level of detail far exceeds Human Revolution, which always felt constrained by its engine. There’s stuff to pick up and throw everywhere, which means I get to find out how guard robots respond to being hit with a traffic cone (they don’t like it). The streets are dark, rainy and atmospheric. I lure the poor robot down to a grimy public toilet where it sets off an EMP mine I planted earlier. I leave it collapsed just outside the gents, but just have time to admire how grotty the place feels. Human Revolution’s gold filter is gone, which frees the theatre’s lavish interiors to feel substantially different to the grimy city streets.

Company logos and clothes subtly play on the recurring tessellated triangles motif of Human Revolution. There’s a signature elegance to the technology.

This artful clutter gives Eidos Montreal more ways to teach you about the world. You can hack into terminals to read emails and pick up news-pads, of course, but I also found a TV in the Prague level that showed a full length news report presented by Human Revolution’s news anchor, Eliza Cassan. If you know the truth about Eliza from Human Revolution, you might sense just a little bias in her reporting.

The leap in world fidelity means more graffiti, newspaper front pages that blow around the streets, and more detailed books, posters and road signs. It’s a richer place, and full of neat designs for weapons, robots and augmentations. Company logos and clothes subtly play on the recurring tessellated triangles motif of Human Revolution, and there’s a signature elegance to the technology. I couldn’t stop looking at Jensen’s arms—dark and tightly coiled, like armoured vipers.

Those arms can do marvellous things, and Prague is a great playground for Jensen’s new abilities. As in Human Revolution, he can cloak. He can use an aug that helps him to move silently. Titan armour can deflect bullets for a time. His close-combat retractable elbow chisels can now be fired at enemies. His knuckles can deploy multiple homing electrical shock bolts to a group of guards. Jensen is a heavily militarised Inspector Gadget, and feels remarkably powerful.

The power trip is sustained by a redesigned energy system. No longer are you constrained to a handful of energy pips. Instead, you have a bar of energy that depletes a little every time you activate an ability. For continuous abilities such as cloak, the remaining bar will gradually drain as you remain invisible. Energy used sustaining continuous abilities conveniently recharges, but the initial energy chunk you blow on ability activation can only be restored with a biocell.

Deus Ex Mankind Divided 4

With more juice, you can chain abilities together into monstrously satisfying combos. I used my Icarus dash to leap into the middle of a group of guards, and then immediately deployed my typhoon attack. The camera popped into third person and Jensen spun, shedding a spray of miniature warheads from his arms. You can combine abilities simultaneously with good results. Activate your silent feet aug and then dash, and you can quickly and silently close in for a close combat KO, for example. Close combat attacks still pop you into third-person view for a brutal miniature cutscene—Jensen has learned an especially handsome uppercut since Human Revolution.

Mankind Divided’s augmentations have been redesigned to solve a key issue with the first game, where choosing a stealthy, non-lethal approach mostly prevented you from using the game’s loudest and coolest toys. Mankind Divided tackles this by giving augmentations multiple functions, and non-lethal variants when necessary. If you choose, the typhoon attack can fire a spray of green gas bombs that incapacitate guards without killing them.

Tom Senior
Based in Bath with the UK team, Tom loves strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.