To little fanfare, Eidos Montreal last week released the second and last DLC for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided with A Criminal Past. A Criminal Past once again features Adam Jensen, this time recounting a past mission where he went undercover in a maximum security prison.
Given the recent news that Square Enix are, at least temporarily, shelving the Deus Ex series for perceived low sales figures it’s a bit of a shame that this content doesn’t focus on furthering the main series story, or any other pivotal events (the System Rift DLC by comparison involved opening the Palisade network security Breach that’s featured in the arcade mode of the same name) but it’s always good to get more Deus Ex in whatever form it takes.
In order to contact an Interpol agent who himself is deep undercover, Jensen is sent to the groan-inducingly named Penley T. Housefather Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison for augmented criminals. And yes, the ridiculous name is so that it can be nicknamed the Pent House. Sigh. Anyway, on arrival Jensen is implanted with a chip that blocks augmentations (including his sunglasses, the bastards!) giving one of the more reasonable excuses to have to build up your augmentations all over again. I actually didn’t mind it too much here, much less so than the other story DLC that have been released as at least there was an in-game reason for it this time around. After a run in with the prison’s antagonistic head guard Stenger, Jensen is then shipped off to Cell Block A and you take control.
Odds are that if you’re even considering playing a DLC for the game you’ve likely played some Deus Ex before, and there aren’t any real surprises or revelations in how the game plays. Once Jensen is able to roam freely you can embark on exploring the prison, finding air vents and unlockable doors, cameras to disable and guards to knock out/kill depending on your preference. Jensen eventually works his way around all of the areas of the prison to find his contact and then escape.
There are a few optional objectives and points of interest to explore and, as it’s a prison, a lot of the areas are ones where you can’t be spotted or the guards will quickly begin attacking you which raises the stakes of exploration a little.
The prison itself is a somewhat interesting environment, and marks a visual change from the rest of Mankind Divided while still looking consistent with the designs and technology already established. The outdoor areas in particular stand out due to the nice dusty orange that dominates the colour palette which isn’t a colour I think I’ve seen in a Deus Ex before. The indoor areas, while less distinct from the main game, still have their moments with the main cell blocks in particular being rather unique.
Since Jensen is in prison none of the rest of the cast of the game appear (with the exception of Task Force 21’s psychiatrist, who Jensen is narrating the mission to) so there are a handful of new characters who are all fairly unique in their designs. One touch that I did like is that while all the rest of the prisoners wear their prison jumpsuit collars down, Jensen has his up to emulate the look of his iconic trenchcoat.
There are a few new pieces of music present instead of just reusing existing tracks from Mankind Divided. Michael McCann hasn’t contributed anything however, with Sascha Dikiciyan now the only credited composer. His work is fine and fits the tone established by the last two games, but it’s lacking in any of the big themes that McCann is known for.
I think my playthrough clocked it at somewhere around 5 hours and it felt a bit longer than System Rift, though of course with any Deus Ex a lot of playtime is gotten out of exploring everywhere and hacking all the computers and doors – skipping all of this and just going through the main quest will likely get you to the end within an hour or two but you’ll miss much of the experience doing so.
I found A Criminal Past to be an enjoyable addition to Mankind Divided, a game that I already enjoyed a whole lot though sadly more than most, given the sales figures. The Steam global achievement figures paint a pretty bleak picture for the number of players still around and interested to pick up the new content though with less than 1% of players finishing the story.
Hopefully this won’t be the last we see of Jensen or Deus Ex as a whole, as given Eidos Montreal’s plans for the series there’s still a lot left of Jensen’s story to be told. While it’s a bit of a shame that this DLC doesn’t do that, there’s always a place for side stories and I think this one hit the spot fairly well.