Xbox continues to
power on with their greatest asset. The Xbox Game Pass already has a
load of great games to play. With this update, there are even more
great choices. What’s best about these is their value and length. A
lot of the games on offer are solid, well rounded experiences. They
aren’t just dropping a few niche and trashy disposable games. They
are getting you THE best games from yesteryear. The titles in this
pass of theirs are all of the games that if you missed, you need to
play. What are they?
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
The original Deus Ex game was an absolute paradigm changer for the PC gaming industry. N’stuff. I’ve never played the original. I started with Invisible War, a game everyone hated but that’s only because nothing could be as good as that first game (and it’s janky AF). But after that failure, the Deus Ex series found life in the prequel series starring Adam Jensen. A man who is basically the Major from Ghost in the Shell but is a gruff dude working big tech security, and later, Interpol. Mankind Divided is a direct sequel to Human Revolution, which came out last console generation. It wouldn’t hurt to play that title, but it’s not absolutely essential to MD, since a lot of the characters from the first game are mere afterthoughts. That and a handy-dandy 11 minute video comes with the game to recap it for you.
What happens next, is you find yourself in a world the producers called the “Mechanical Apartheid“. This is due to a mass hack that resulted in one of the world’s most bloody acts of terrorism, an event where all cybernetically enhanced individuals received some sort of hacking signal that reduced them to turning into a vicious mob, killing everyone (until Adam Jensen stopped). Understandably shook, the world of the enhanced, now known as the slur “klanks”, live under constant supervision by a humanity who doesn’t trust them. But Adam Jensen is special, and because of his skills, he lands a job at Interpol working a counter-terror task force. Over the course of the game, you will explore the streets of Prague while trying to stop an ‘illuminati’-tier conspiracy that if fulfilled, may destroy the freedom of all individuals as we know it. Yikes.
This game is play it your way, and is mainly a tactical stealth action game. You can stealth your way past everything, hack your way past everything, shoot your way pas everything, blow up your way past everything, or mix it up a little bit. Sadly, the project was suddenly forced out the door before it was completely finished. It now serves as what was supposed to be a new trilogy… only the other two aren’t currently getting made. If you go into this game aware that a few threads will be left dangling, you’ll still have a blast.
Prey is another game with a littered history. The original Prey came out in 2005 after being worked on for 15 YEARS. No joke, but it finally came out and it wasn’t half bad. Some people may accuse the game of being racist for having an Indigenous American protagonist who uses ancient Indian magic to protect himself, and to that i say get the fuck over yourself. It’s a game. And the sequel is even better.
See, Prey was originally supposed to come out as Prey 2, a pseudo-sequel at best where you play as a bounty hunter who rounded up criminals using gadgets and some parkour. The game disappeared. Then, at an E3, it re-emerged as Prey, which means I now have to distinguish them by release date. This time Arkane Studios made it, the brains behind Dishonored. Just like their other game, Prey became a game in same style as the “System Shock / Bioshock” games.
This one also features a wide variety of powers and play styles. You can shoot your way through, hack your.. YOU GET THE POINT. This one features a far more bizarre plot. You are on a space station (sorry for spoiling the first 20 minutes of the game), where some experiments on a shapeshifting aliens species has gone awry. They have done a LOT to ruin the station, and if you don’t solve all those problems and a single one of them makes it back to Earth, it will be DOOMED. Peep our review here.
Monster Hunter World
Monster Hunter is a much beloved franchise known for its challenge and scope. You don’t simply fight monsters. You track them down, you beat them to a pulp, and then you wear their bones on your favorite armor. So does your cat. The cats are pretty rad in these games. However, for a very long time, MH was a very niche title for a specific audience, yet Capcom broadened that scope with Monster Hunter World.
This version of the game provided updated controls, a new story, and a huge focus on online multiplayer to get a lot of players. And it worked. During a very quiet January, this title popped up and became the surprise first-hit of the year. Actually, not only that, it set a new all-time record in sales for Capcom. It keeps people coming back with a steady slew of both free and paid updates. You’ll never run out of stuff to do.
This series is a tough and very involved game. Hunting monsters takes preparation. And preparation requires a full understanding of the ins and outs of the game. Preparation is key. Everything from crafting gadgets, potions, poisons, and other key items can make all the difference during your hunt. Of course, this game has a very, VERY extensive tutorial that makes sure you’re always on top of what you need to know. Sometimes it feels like the tutorial never ended. But 25 hours was enough for me. Also I cheated profusely and usually just “fired a flare” during the fights. That means 3 people will show up and kill the monster for you. You could possibly play the whole entire game this way if you wanted. And should. JK, but check out our review.
Developer DONTNOD is a game producer that makes the best 7/10 games you will ever play. They are notorious for their storylines, which aren’t simply engaging. No, these devs would prefer to bludgeon you over the head with hard-to-discuss topics like memory erasure, suicide, assisted suicide, drug abuse, unfiltered teenage angst, and high school drama classes. Then, in comes Vampyr, a narrative heavy action melee game with a slower and focused pace. If you wanted to play the “easy version” of Dark Souls this is the one. Not only that but they recently patched in a story mode and a hard mode so you can either play it as super easy Dark Souls or actual Dark Souls.
Maximizing the potential for irony, the story stars a recently vampire’d Doctor, Jonathan Reed. He’s world renowned for his research in… wait for it… blood. Yep, the blood doctor turns into a blood sucker. Vampyr gets about as bleak as it can possibly get. You are in an old london riddled with Spanish Flu. The citizens of London aren’t a particularly happy or nice bunch either. Between researching links between the flu and a vampire epidemic, you also deal with the citizens.
Many of them need your help in more ways than one. Not only do you do random quests for them, as per most games, there’s an additional angle. You also have to diagnose them and craft the cures for their ailments. Also, you get teased by the level up system. Level up from fighting enemies, but you get a huge XP bonus if you kill an innocent. Yeah, that’s this game. Those aren’t even the truly tough decisions either. You’ll encounter those at the end of each act and marvel at how all options seem wrong. We reviewed it here.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is an action-RPG made by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix. It is the fourth entry in the Deus Ex series of games, and the second in the reboot/prequel version of the world featuring Adam Jensen, a heavily modified cyborg thrust into a world of conspiracy and struggle. The design of the game allows you to play multiple ways including: assault, stealth, or even a ghost if you’re really good.
Mankind Divided made a great choice when it decided to do away with the piss-filter all over the graphics of the previous title. The gold & black color palette of the series still stands, but it feels improved now that there are more colors involved. Not only are the graphics superior, but the design is great too. Locations look like places people actually live and work in, sometimes being tidy and other times being completely trashed. Lots of attention was paid to making sure these spaces tell a story of their own, sometimes with astounding results.
The plot of DX:MD may be a bit ridiculous when you think about it too much, but it’s a very involving plot supported by great set of characters and engaging missions to take. Being an agent working for Interpol makes you feel pretty cool and important in 2029 Prague. Every location you go to has a story, apartments all seem lived in, there are e-newspapers to read everywhere, and plenty of people on the streets telling you to go away. The majority of the side-missions are actually more interesting than the main story, to the point where it feels like the main path is a sort of metaphorical glue designed to keep all the smaller interesting stories together. That said, the choices you make in the game feel like they have weight after you see the results of them a couple missions later on.
Many have noted that DX:MD’s soundtrack is a tad bit on the loud side and every once in a while drowns out some of the voice acting. This is fine though, because the OST for this game is a brilliant work. It has that creative hybrid sound combining orchestral procedurals with electronic keyboard power, creating a semi-organic score that really melds with the “augmented humanity” vibe. I am 100% sure that there is a 20-second stretch of music within that is the binaural equivalent of an orgasm. Complimenting the soundtrack is the gravelly voice of Elias Toufexis as Adam Jensen, with a great performance from the rest of the cast. The game did great with the surround too, just stop and listen when you get to the TF29 base for a masterclass on spacial sound.
Controls were changed from Human Revolution, so there was a bit of an adjustment period for that. But, who keeps constructing these spacious vents? Deus Ex games do have some degree of “samey-ness” in the gameplay elements of every entry in the series, and the odds of you crawling around in a duct multiple times is very likely. Despite that, the game is still designed to maximize the player experience with a “play it your way” approach to every situation. A secondary playthrough could lead to a completely different experience. I stumbled upon THREE sidequests I missed on my first run just because I decided to break into everyone’s apartment on a stealthier second run in New Game + Mode. Nobody else makes play-it-your-way quite the same as Deus Ex.
Speaking of New Game + mode, I replayed this game almost immediately and found that my second run was actually better than my first. I searched every nook and cranny of Prague to find more plot items and to see what there was to find in places I missed. You could easily get sucked in and end up burning through hours without even realizing it. It’s just too bad that the hardest difficulty of this game is “I Never Asked for This”, a permadeath run that would be way too much trouble than its worth. As of right now, DLC is looking scarce with just a mission available and not much else. Still, this game is going for cheap and is easily worth full price.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was my GOTY for 2016. I am sad that Square Enix has decided not to go ahead with further sequels, because this game showed a lot of promise and a hint of more to come. The game is easily worth picking up even if you are new to the series and an absolute must have if you like the series.