The Division adds up to a compelling title

by Alen McMahon

THERE’S no doubt that the vision of a largely abandoned and post-Christmas New York that’s been ravaged by a very, very deadly bioweapon plague in The Division (PC, XBO, PS4; Cert 18) is a very good looking game, whatever platform you play on.
It’s one of the biggest releases of the year, and has been creating quite a stir for some time now ahead of its release.
As a Division agent, you’re tasked with helping to restore order in the city – to gather together survivors, find food and medicine, rescue hostages, that sort of thing.
However, plenty of gangs, looters and bad guys are also fighting to take over the city, as Division agents and what remains of the authorities struggle to reclaim the city.
As you traverse much of the lower third of Manhattan completing missions, you get points in a variety of fields with which to upgrade your character, your home base, and a number of abilities in a pretty comprehensive skill set tree.
Considering that, depending on your play style, you can shape your character to have some pretty unique abilities, it’s not hard to see the appeal for gamers looking to play with characters who don’t fit the usual archetypes for such open-world games, such as The Tank, The Sniper, The Medic, and so on.
As you play, rewards and finds reveal all kinds of stats to enhance, with the constant drip-feed of loot (often common and worthless, occasionally rare and very useful) providing plenty of incentive to continue exploring, levelling up your character, and fighting to help save the city.
Given the extensive mission-led content – although the multiplayer aspect (see below) is much less organised – and the way that gamers truly shape and choose their character’s development, it’s hard to see The Division as anything other than a role-playing game, rather than a straightforward shooter.
Still, regardless of whether you’re looking for an engaging story with decent shooter elements – or vice versa – The Division should satisfy, with its densely recreated version of Manhattan being a particularly attractive setting.
Indeed, the dystopian setting is a singularly attractive one, with the richly detailed streets and multitude of buildings and landmarks presented in style, thanks to some terrific lighting and weather effects, as well as its day/night cycle.
As one of 2016’s major games releases, The Division doesn’t disappoint, and should unite gamers and critics alike with solid praise.

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