Be Prague-matic when approaching problems

by Shane Dillon
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WHAT makes you human? If you have replaced some or most of your body with metal and machine parts, are you still equal to ‘ordinary’ humans – or are you a superior (or inferior) being?
These are just some of the interesting questions and issues at the heart of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (Cert 18; XBO, PS4, PC; c. €70); the latest addition to the long-running and classic cyberpunk franchise.
Building on the events in its prequel game (2011), Mankind Divided is set in the near future, mostly in Prague, where global events are having explosive local effects as acts of terrorism play out in the heavily policed streets.
Humanity has almost split in two, with a majority of ‘Naturals’ – people without any limb or organ replacements or enhancements – turning against augmented people (‘Augs’, disparagingly referred to as ‘Clanks’) – people who may have, say, cyborg arms, artificially enhanced eyes, and so on.
At the game’s outset, the resentment and division between Naturals and Augs is at an all time high for various reasons, with widespread calls for segregation, restricted rights, curtails on jobs and housing for Augs, and so on.
You step into this hostile atmosphere as an augmented agent working for an international agency, ostensibly on the trail of terrorists, but increasingly drawn into the murky underworld as other events take place.
Everything from crooked cops, gangs, power-hungry corporations and a shadowy organisation start pulling strings, tighter and tighter.
Throw in double crosses, hackers, shifty agents and cover-ups, and Mankind Divided’s plots become as labyrinthine as the streets of Prague …
As always with the series, gamers are given an open set of tools by which to play the game, and tackle missions.
With upgrade trees that suit the player’s approach, gamers can customise their character to play the way they want to, with most parts of the game having multiple solutions.
Whether going for full-on violence or the softly-softly sneaky approach, or pursuing other options in missions, it’s your choice how to play.
This means that Mankind Divided’s diverse options and approaches will suit multiple playthroughs.
It’s far from a perfect game – as always, PC owners with decent graphics cards get treated to the best visuals (which can be a mixed bag on the consoles), while it has some of the very worst lip-synching, and erratic character movements, that I’ve ever seen.
However, despite its weak points, Mankind Divided has largely united critics, thanks to its interesting noir-ish tone and open-ended gameplay.
With long-standing story elements that have perhaps gained extra currency from real-world current affairs, it’s a title that rewards visiting this version of Prague.

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