Warning: If you haven't played any of the Deus Ex games and have intentions of doing so before picking up a copy of Mankind Divided - Then go back as the following article contains information taken from Ion Storm's original Deus Ex game from 2000 and Eidos Montreal's 2011 prequel Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
It's been over 15 years now since Ion Storm's Deus Ex was released, since then it has received universal critical acclaim and was repeatedly named as the best PC game of all time. Even now in 2015, people are still purchasing the game on Steam to explore and discover - or in most cases rediscover - the conspiracy theories and corruption that are buried deep within the twisted world that is Deus Ex.
In the game you step into the shoes of JC Denton, a rookie UNATCO agent who can perform superhuman feats (with the help of nanotechnology) on behalf of the government. The year is 2052 and the divide between the rich and poor is bigger than ever, terrorist groups have formed and riots are a daily occurrence, add on top of that a lethal pandemic known as the "Gray Death" that's ravaging the world's population with a cure (a vaccine called 'Ambrosia') that's in critical short supply, given to only those "vital to the social order" (Government officials, the rich and influential) and the divide opens up even further. As JC you begin to witness this divide the more you progress through the game, you begin to realise that these "terrorist" groups you've been sent to infiltrate and stop, or nothing more than scared people who are sick of witnessing a government that cares only for it's own, whilst the elite and their families are given the vaccinations, everyone else is left to suffer and die. This only scratches the surface of the story and the conspiracies that Deus Ex has to offer, but even so, what is it that keeps people revisiting this game so long after it's release? The story. Which in a way, resonates more with the people now, than it ever did 15 years ago.
Because nothing says dystopia like a beheaded Statue of Liberty.
The issues surrounding the poor, the sick and the corrupted corporations would be enough to fool people that this games story was written in the past year. You begin to feel like there is a possibility that our future could look like this, and this feeling didn't disappear as I played through Eidos Montreal's Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Set in 2027, you play as Adam Jenson, formerly a SWAT Specialist, now working for Sarif Industries, a world leading organisation who specialise in creating mechanical augmentations for the general public as well as the military. Your brought in as Head of Security and immediately your introduced to a world where people are willingly having their own limbs amputated in favour of the more advanced and highly expensive mechanical alternatives (although quite primitive compared to the nano-augmentations used by the likes of JC Denton in the near future). After a terrorist attack on Sarif Headquarters in Detroit, Jenson is left for dead and his only chance of survival is to be augmented with the newest and deadliest augs Sarif has to offer. Fuelled by revenge, Jenson is dragged into a world of conspiracy and discovers that his life has been destroyed by the illuminati for their own benefits. What is quite chilling about this games future is how it could quite easily happen. Now I'm not saying the Illuminati has control of us all, but bare with me. Jenson is expected to be heavily dependent on Neuropozine, a drug distributed by VersaLife (The same company that created the 'Ambrosia' vaccine) to everyone who has been augmented in order to stop their bodies from rejecting the implants, but instead Jenson's body has accepted the augmentations. He's the only known man in the world who is not reliant on Neuropozine and it's all thanks to his one of a kind DNA. Neuropozine, like the augmentations, is expensive but is also a necessity, meaning that some people cannot afford to maintain augs and therefore become left out. For some people the option of even getting augmented in the first place is completely out of the question as their bodies simply will not accept them. Jenson's DNA is the key to solving this and making Neuropozine redundant, much to the dislike of the organisations benefiting from the requirements of the drug, because up until now when receiving augmentations, people are placed in a vicious circle of payments for the augmentations and the Neuropozine, which benifits VersaLife (owned and controlled by the Illuminati) greatly. Regardless of this society is split in the world of Human Revolution over augmentations. Some see it as the next step in human revolution whereas others see it as unethical and claim that these organisations are "playing God". Whatever the opinion you hold in this world, one thing is abundantly clear...become augmented or be left behind.
It takes the divide between the rich and poor to the next level, as well as the racism that is touched upon in the game. You could attempt to start a conversation with anyone of the many NPCs wandering the city of Detroit for example, only to be met with hostility, people sometimes refuse to even engage in conversation with you, simply because your augmented.
When creating Human Revolution, Eidos Montreal collaborated with a man called Will Rosellini, he was the CEO for a company called Microtransponder and helped Eidos to credibalise their augmentations and make them make sense in the real world where the technology and scientific research is progressing.
The technology we see in the game, we're likely to see in the near future, for example bionic eyes are already in the process of being developed (although don't expect any Icarus landing systems or typhoon weapon augmentations to made available to the public anytime soon) and it begs the question, when this technology becomes available, could our society head down the same path? Perhaps neural implants that give stock brokers a serious advantage over their colleagues could become a serious problem. Perhaps the divide between those who have and those who don't would become all too real, but what's really worrying is what could happen if this extraordinary next step in technology went south? And where does it lead us? And if fantastic technology like that is harmful because some people abuse it, whether itÃ¢ÂÂs the masses or just a single individual or a small group of individuals Ã¢ÂÂ how can it shape a new reality? How can it shape the world to be different? Eidos Montreal explores this issue in Mankind Divided and from what we've seen so far, this one is going to hit home a lot harder than the previous games have.
Mankind Divided's exploration of racism and segregation is at the forefront of the game this time around.
Deus Ex Mankind Divided takes place two years after Human Revolution, two years after the Panchea incident that saw people's neural implants manipulated and controlled, turning them into deranged killers. This set in motion a chain of events that led to people with augmentations being segregated from society and treated as outcasts.
Jean-FranÃÂ§ois Dugas, Human Revolution's and the upcoming Mankind Divided's Executive Director was asked to give his opinion on the issues raised in Mankind Divided, and Jean stated the following: "Yes, itÃ¢ÂÂs an analogy to racism; itÃ¢ÂÂs an analogy to segregation; itÃ¢ÂÂs an analogy to people judging easily without having all the facts at hand and whatnot. ThereÃ¢ÂÂs an analogy with the world we see in the 21st century, unfortunately."
What can be said about Deus Ex is that no matter how entertaining, how rich or how immersive it's dystopian future is, it will always serve as an unsettling reminder that if we're not careful, there is a real possibility that we could end up living a reality all to close to this.
On a lighter note, the augmentations we've seen in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided look awesome, so if you could have any augmentation, no matter how insane or overpowered, what would it be? Let me know in the comments below and I'd also like to know what you think of the dystopian futures in Deus Ex and what, if anything, they represent.