The Infinite Zenith

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Titanfall 2: First Impressions

“It is good to see you too, Pilot.” –BT-7274

Titanfall 2 is Respawn Entertainment’s sequel to its predecessor, differing chiefly in that it features a full-fledged single-player campaign. The first game presented the story of the conflict between the IMC and Militia by means of transmissions and dialogues during the prelude to some multiplayer matches; these snippets suggested that there was much that could be explored in the world of Titanfall. Thus, Titanfall 2 makes use of this fantastic setting to craft a story that does not stray far from the beaten path: after the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC) discovers an area rich in resources and dub it the Frontier, they begin exploiting these assets with little regard for the damage they cause to worlds and their populations. A section of the IMC splinter off and become the Frontier Militia, who strive to protect their people, worlds and gain independence from the IMC. Amidst the conflict is rifleman Jack Cooper, training off the books under Captain Tai Lastimosa’s supervision with the aspirations of becoming a pilot himself someday. When a mission to the surface of IMC-held Typhon leads to Captain Lastimosa’s death, he transfers control of his Titan, BT-7274 (hitherto BT for brevity), to Cooper in his final moments, taking on the responsibility of finishing Captain Lastimosa’s mission to meet up with Major Anderson. Along the way, Cooper forms a closer link with BT and defeats Kane, an Apex Predator mercenary hired by the IMC to further their plans. With its story, Titanfall 2 treads on well-worn territory, although the real star of the show becomes apparent when Cooper is neurally linked with BT. Far more than an ordinary combat machine, BT possesses a powerful AI that enables him to be a companion of sorts for Cooper as he undertakes a mission that he has only received informal training for.

BT adds a new level of dimensionality to Titanfall 2, but as I’m only two missions into the game as of now, I can only say that the interactions between Cooper and BT right now is a friendly one even as I push further into the mission: to find Major Anderson. I am certain that there will be more to discuss about this dynamic upcoming, but in the time I have spent in Titanfall 2 already, the first thing that comes to mind is how well-designed the gameplay mechanics are. Moving around is incredibly fluid and, as a Pilot, Cooper has no trouble navigating the sheer walls and ledges in the environments. The smooth motions makes it very easy to become accustomed to parkouring through maps by taking advantages of features in the terrain. The gunplay also handles well: kills are incredibly visceral, and the weapons sound powerful. By the end of the first mission, after Cooper locates a pair of batteries to power up BT, there is an opportunity to glimpse what Titan combat is like. The default Expedition loadout for BT has proven to be my favourite so far amongst the choices available (just the Tone right now) – its 20 mm X0-16 automatic AP rifle has a high rate of fire and accuracy, while its ordinance is fantastic for locking onto multiple opponents. The vortex shield and electric smoke also make a return; the former allows BT to “catch” incoming fire and redirect it for damage, while the latter is a defensive utility for bugging out and dissuading enemies from pursuing, as the smoke can kill pilots and drain a Titan’s shields. It’s surprisingly versatile, and I find myself using the Expedition loadout far more than the Tone loadout, which features the powerful Tracker 40 mm cannon and lock-on rockets, plus a particle shield. While I’m loving the 40 mm cannon, the other aspects are a bit more tricky to use. It is with the Expedition loadout that I took with me into my duel against Kane, and after a short battle, I finished my first boss of Titanfall 2.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • After a botched landing results in Captain Lastimosa being defeated by several IMC Titans, Cooper himself is nearly eaten by Typhon’s wildlife until Lastimosa intervenes, transferring his equipment to Cooper and entrusting him with BT. The first mission in Titanfall 2 involves securing two Titan batteries for BT. These batteries, large green cylinders, are said to provide power for Titans, although given that Titans can access the nuclear ejection ability, it is likely that batteries are used in conjunction with a reactor of some sort to power the Titans.

  • While players have a chance to become familiar with the different parkour and wall-running abilities in the tutorial, the first mission is where these abilities are first put to the test. Some of the abilities, such as double jumping by means of a jump kit, are locked initially. The cliffs of Typhon’s first area are a fantastic place to begin practising; in narrower passages, where it’s possible to wall-run on one side, then hop over to another. Pilots will lose momentum as they continue wall-running, making the timing of a wall-run critical to avoiding falling to a deep chasm.

  • I’m running Titanfall 2 on the second highest settings available, since I personally cannot tell the difference between maximum settings and the tier below it: the game looks fantastic all around, whether it be the lighting effects or details in the environment. Here, I’m equipped with the R-201 Carbine, the standard all-around performing assault rifle of Titanfall 2 that replaces Titanfall‘s R-101C. With a good rate of fire, moderate damage and low recoil, it’s suited for a variety of situations, bringing to mind how I stuck with the R-101C predominantly during my Titanfall trial back during 2014.

  • Wide open spaces in the maps means that it’s useful to carry a good long-range weapon, and the Longbow-DMR fulfills this role early on in Titanfall 2. One thing that is unique about Titanfall 2 is that killing enemies will cause their helmets to pop off: when I first saw this, I thought their heads were popping off owing to the sheer firepower of the weapon. This may not be the case, but the Longbow remains an excellent all-around long-range weapon with its relatively high rate of fire and fast bullet travel time.

  • The presence of lush vegetation on Typhon suggests that it’s got a tropical or subtropical climate, evoking memories of Taiwan. When I visited back during 2014, it was in December, and the weather was still markedly more pleasant than the weather back home. While our route around the island did not take us through the Huatong Valley (we took the coastal highway before transitioning to a train from Hualien to Yilan), we did travel through some regions of Taiwan’s interior en route to the Monster Village (妖怪村) and the Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), where there are steep mountains rising up from the foggy valley.

  • All told, Cooper is required to pick up two Titan batteries from the interior of the MCS James McCallan, crashed from the operation as a result of heavy fire. The relatively pristine nature of its interior (excluding structural damage sustained during the crash) is a reminder that the vessel only crashed a few hours earlier, but the absence of personnel on board suggest that most of them were able to escape. While getting acclimatised to the jump kit, the IMC forces announce that players have the chance to surrender themselves and be spared death; BT remarks that it’s likely a lie.

  • This brings to mind the announcement that Admiral Salen Kotch has for Reyes and his forces: “surrender for immediate execution”. Kotch pulls no punches and outright tells the heroes their expected fate, whereas the IMC present a bald-faced lie. Back in the days of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, ultranationalist forces can be heard telling Captain Price and his men to surrender. Price merely responds: “ignore that load of bollocks. Their counterattack is imminent”. Back in Titanfall 2, I come across an IMC outpost and hammer it from afar with the Longbow. Stealth is also an option: pilots are equipped with a cloak that, while too short-lived to accommodate the sort of sneaking around available in Crysis, is immensely useful for getting out of a pinch.

  • In the IMC outpost, I find the Spitfire LMG, a fully automatic light machine gun great for delivering a large amount of hot lead downrange. Unlike its Titanfall counterpart, whose accuracy would improve as it was fired, the Titanfall 2 Spitfire can be fired in shorter bursts. I’ve never been big on LMGs that become more accurate as they are fired in multiplayer contexts, since it encourages a waste of ammunition and also exposes a user’s position the longer the weapon is fired. A sharp-eyed reader might notice that the parts of the weapon closest to the camera are blurry. This is a design choice in Titanfall 2, and while it makes the game feel a little more realistic, it also makes the weapons a little less visually impressive.

  • After securing two batteries for BT, Cooper is able to board for the first time, just in time for enough of a neural link to be formed for Cooper to use BT’s ordinance package, which by default, fires lock-on missiles at distant opponents. When the initial link is established, players can begin using the X0-16 20mm Automatic rifle. Boarding the titan for the first time was a powerful moment, and as any gamer can predict, players have the chance to take on enemy Titans of their own. The X0-16 makes quick work of the Brutes, common IMC Titans encountered throughout Titanfall 2‘s campaign.

  • With my mind continuously drifting towards the vast mountains and remote valleys of Taiwan’s Eastern coast, I present Synapticism, a website whose author travels the more unbeaten paths of Taiwan to explore both the ruins of Taiwan as well as the rural areas away from the major cities. It’s a remarkably well-written website with plenty of good content that presents Taiwan in a completely different perspective than would be obtained from a more traditional tour of Taiwan’s major attractions.

  • Titan-on-infantry combat is almost unfair against the IMC grunts: all of a Titan’s weapons seem like overkill, capable of ripping apart infantry very quickly. The Expedition loadout seems best suited for taking on infantry owing to multiple lock-ons offered by the ordinance and the X0-16’s larger magazine capacity. There are anti-Titan weapons for pilots on foot, and usually, it takes a degree of coordination amongst pilots to use these weapons effectively in order to eliminate an enemy Titan.

  • So far, I’m enjoying every aspect of Titanfall 2, although the HUD is a little different than what I’m used to: one’s ammunition and equipment is placed near the center of the screen, which is a strange place to situate it considering every other shooter I’ve gone through places these counters at the bottom right-hand side. This makes it a little tricky to keep track of reserve ammunition count, since I need to glance towards the lower center of my screen in order to take a look at what’s happening.

  • I can never be sure if it’s pronounced  “tohn” (IPA: “təʊn”) or “toh-ne” (利根, romanised “tone”), but I imagine it’s the former, given that the other Titans of Titanfall 2 have English names. Presumably, the Tone loadout is so-called for the fact that a tone is emitted when one acquires a lock-on, and here, I unleash the salvo core, firing a barrage of guided missiles to absolutely overwhelm enemy Titans. The default Expedition loadout confers a burst core, which continuously fires the X0-16 with a high firing rate.

  • The cavernous interior of the pump facility brings to mind the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel (known informally as the G-cans) system in Saitama, Tokyo. Construction began in 1992 and concluded in 2006; the tunnel system is intended to redirect water and prevent flooding: the most famous section is a 177 by 78 meter water tank with a height of 25.4 meters. There’s a total of 6.4 kilometers of tunnels linking the five water tanks together, and guided tours of the facility in the Japanese language are provided. My feeble Japanese skills mean I’m unlikely to be qualified to sign up for these tours in the absence of an interpreter, but for the present, I can explore a variant of that in Titanfall 2.

  • I find a Kraber-AP Sniper, a 14.5 x 114 mm rifle that fires heavy armour piercing anti-personnel rounds that can neutralise an opponent with one shot. It features a straight-pull bolt but is still relatively slow-firing compared to other weapons, making the Kraber best suited for long range combat, although the heavy rounds have a slower muzzle velocity compared to the Longbow, requiring that one leads their shots at longer ranges. I use it here to pick off IMC soldiers, watching as their helmets pop off on a successful kill, and note that the weapon’s low magazine capacity means that the weapon, though fantastic against other pilots in the multiplayer, is less effective in the campaign than the Longbow as a long-range solution overall.

  • The EVA-8 is an automatic shotgun that unsurprisingly excels at close-quarters engagements. I use it in the tight corridors to pick off enemies. Inspection of my HUD also finds that I’m rocking an incendiary grenade, which deals damage over time. The enemies in Titanfall 2‘s campaign are a combination of IMC infantry and robots: the latter are more resilient against projectiles, and may carry the L-STAR particle rifle. Classified as an LMG, this weapon draws energy from a battery pool rather than a magazine and overheats when fired for extended periods.

  • The L-STAR can make short work of robots quickly, and causes infantry to explode into chunks of meat when shot owing to the particle rounds’ high energy. Here, I come across a “清明” (Qingming) logo. Possibly being the name of the company that runs this facility, the sign reinforces my sense that Typhon has some elements from Taiwan, although I note that the traditional and simplified characters are the same. By this point, I’ve reached the point where I’ve opened one of the values and are fighting off IMC infantry and ticks, spider-like drones that explode to deal massive damage. Unlike TheRadBrad, I managed to survive the onslaught by moving continuously, and eventually reunite with BT.

  • Unlike Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite WarfareTitanfall 2 is more similar to DOOM in that making use of the map in conjunction with staying in motion is the key to survival. The movement system in Titanfall 2 is far smoother than in Infinite Warfare, mirroring the manoeuvrability afforded by the jump kit. Hidden in levels are “pilot helmets”: similar to Call of Duty‘s intel, these collectibles encourage exploration and are required to unlock a special achievement. They’re often hidden in tough-to-reach locations, requiring a bit of parkour to reach, and while I don’t always find them, I do make an effort to reach the ones that I see.

  • The 40mm Tracker cannon is an integral part of the Tone’s loadout: the projectiles it fires contributes to the lock-on missiles’ targeting system. One feature I was initially hesitant about was the fact that the weapon’s tracers appeared to arc in a parabolic manner, but testing the weapon out, the weapon does not experience projectile drop at closer ranges. I look forward to experimenting with the Tone loadout as my main Titan setup during the campaign, since I enjoy using slower-firing, heavier-hitting weapons in general.

  • Initially, I was unaccustomed to the Tone loadout and promptly lost a bit of my health against Kane, so I switched back to the more familiar Expedition loadout and hammered his Titan to defeat him. One of the Apex Predators, Kane is somewhat unstable and is fond of calling those he considers beneath him “scrubs”. His dialogue comes across as rather humorous, and the fight is not particularly challenging – besting him allows his radio to be collected, which gives players the ability to intercept Apex Predator communications. With this mission done, I look forwards to pushing through the next stages of the campaign, but for the present, I’ve got several upcoming posts: the Amanchu! OVA releases tomorrow, while the first part of Hai-Furi‘s OVA series comes out Friday. Besides these two OVA reviews, future posts also include whole-series talks for Gabriel Dropout and Nyanko Days, both of which I found to be far more amusing than anticipated.

I am impressed, but not surprised that the campaign of Titanfall 2 has proven to be as enjoyable as it has been so far: I originally picked up Titanfall 2 during an EA Publisher sale for 60 percent off, after seeing an advertisement on Facebook for it. Prior to this, I was wondering if such a sale would occur such that I could try the game out: one of the reasons I became interested in Titanfall 2 was owing to its soundtrack: the rich, soaring sounds of the track “BT-7274”, and the melancholy yet optimistic “Rifleman Cooper” stand as my favourite tracks. The majestic, purposeful presentation of these songs brings to mind a rather unusual image: the heavily forested mountains and foggy valleys of Taiwan’s interior. I suspect this is in part owing to a memory bias, since my iPod continuously gave me Titanfall music while on shuffle, during my vacation to Taiwan two and a half years previously. Still, the songs seem rather fitting, describing the steep peaks and remote roads that cross Taiwan’s eastern edge nicely. Indeed, Typhon seems to feel a little like Taiwan, with its lush vegetation and unforgiving terrain: it’s the perfect backdrop for Cooper’s journeys, and consequently, I am looking forwards to pushing through Titanfall 2 to see what adventures await Cooper and BT. Doubtlessly, regardless of what challenges Cooper faces, BT’s presence will be sufficient to maintain morale and allow Cooper to realise his own ambitions of becoming a pilot Captain Lastimosa would be proud of.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare- At the halfway point

“The Internet is for haters. Everyone wants to knock somebody down, but it’s cool.” —Andy Cohen

After repelling the SDF fleet and forcing them into a temporary retreat, Commander Reyes sets out on his assignment, starting by re-capturing the lunar port to ensure Earth is not cut off from supplies. Subsequently, side missions become available, where Reyes and the Retribution can carry out strikes against the SDF forces to steal or recover weapons, eliminate targets of value or else damage SDF assets. All of this leads up to Infinite Warfare‘s halfway point, a mission set in Titan, the largest of Saturn’s moons, in order to destroy a refuelling facility and cripple the SDF’s fuel supply. Combining both infantry combat and aerial dog fights with the Jackals, Infinite Warfare continues to be an entertaining game that presents an opportunity to travel around the different locations of the Solar System in order to defeat a militant faction: whether it be the grey, rolling hills on the moon, the yellow, muggy and hostile surface of Titan, the desolation of Uranus and Neptune or the familiar Earth, Infinite Warfare vividly portrays these settings to give the sense that the player is exploring and fighting in environments that have hitherto remain unexplored, creating a series of worlds that keeps each mission in the campaign novel and free of repetition.

One of the elements I’m enjoying most about Infinite Warfare are the weapons’ versatility and customisations available within the campaign: prior to each mission, players can fine tune their loadout very specifically, outfitting their weapons with the optics and attachments to best fit their play-style. There is also a recommended loadout for folks who simply want to get into the missions without worrying too much about whether or not a particular set of weapons will work. For instance, in Operation Burn Water, the mission to Titan, the recommended loadout is the EBR-800 with suppressor and foregrip, with the suppressed Kendall 44 as a secondary weapon. Given that much of this mission begins as a stealth mission, it makes sense to have suppressed weapons. However, as things progress, the mission invariably goes loud. Thus, I swapped out the Kendall 44 for the Erad, a submachine gun that can alternatively be used as a shotgun. The future setting of Infinite Warfare means that weapons designers have more creative freedom, resulting in remarkably versatile weapons that allow me to play through the campaign without worrying about whether or not I’m carrying the right weapons for the task at hand: in fact, weapons that can transition between two firing modes, like the Erad and EBR-800, are sufficiently adaptable so that I can stick with one weapon and carry a powerful secondary weapon, such as the P-LAW laser weapon or the Spartan shoulder-fired rocket launcher to deal with heavier opposition. Not affecting the game’s difficulty in any way, this ability merely changes how one feels about dealing with the different levels.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The mission on the lunar port is known as Operation Port Armour, featuring some nifty combat sequences afforded by the fact that the large windows throughout the concourse can be shot out, sending SDF soldiers to their doom. Immediately, the SDF’s actions are made known when some of Reyes’ squad mates mention that the SDF do not take prisoners – they are later seen shooting civilians openly.

  • Reminiscent of both the Principality of Zeon (Mobile Suit Gundam and all Universal Century stories) and Vers Empire (Aldnoah.Zero), the SDF is determinedly presented as an evil antagonist whose entire existence is to wipe out SATO and the UNSA. Snippets of text found throughout Infinite Warfare, and from the death screens note that the SDF is a militaristic entity wholly dedicated to victory, possessing a Social Darwinist ideology and believing that they are the rightful controllers of humanity. With their ideology ruled by ruthlessness and strength, Girls und Panzer‘s Shiho Nishizumi looks like an absolute moderate by comparison, and one “Daigensui” would be likely count the SDF’s beliefs as appropriate.

  • Naturally, anyone with a sense of empathy and compassion would immediately see the SDF as the antagonists, a threat to be dealt with and as such, find them an easy opponent to rally against in Infinite Warfare. A simple, black-and-white approach to determining the factions allows Infinite Warfare to focus on its gameplay and core thematic element of sacrifice. Back on the lunar terminal, I continue pushing through, lighting up SDF forces along the way. I pick up a shield and F-SpAr torch along the way, but being blown out into the vacuum forces me to relinquish these assets.

  • With most of the port cleared out, it’s time to go find a Coast Guard Jackal and engage enemy forces outside. By this point in Infinite Warfare, I’ve learned that energy weapons are slightly more effective against robots than organic targets, as well as that the TTK (time to kill) is a bit higher here than it is in earlier Call of Duty titles: it takes at least a fifth of a magazine to down opponents with body shots.

  • While ostensibly lighter-armoured and more lightly armed compared to the SATO Jackals, I manage just fine with a Coast Guard Jackal here, engaging the SDF Skelters and other vessels alike without much difficulty. Defeating the SDF here returns control of the port over to the UNSA, and Reyes’ team takes off to continue pushing back remaining SDF forces in the area.

  • The first Infinite Warfare trailer depicted the space combat of Operation Port Armour, coupled with the part of the mission involving the infiltration of an SDF destroyer. One YouTube, this video holds the infamy of being one of the most disliked videos of all time, having over 3.5 million dislikes. A part of me wanted to try Infinite Warfare and find good things to say about it just so I could stick it to the folks who hate Call of Duty. Despite being the third consecutive instalment in the main franchise to be set in the future, Infinite Warfare has the most solid storyline and interesting maps.

  • While Infinite Warfare is superior to Ghosts and Advanced Warfare for the most part, Advanced Warfare has a more innovative HUD: weapon and utility counts are projected as AR elements directly onto the weapon in world space, rather than in screen space as with more traditional elements. Infinite Warfare returns to a screen space based HUD that is relatively minimalistic and useful, although like the other Call of Duty titles I’ve gone through, I find myself running out of ammunition and reloading during inopportune moments more frequently than in other shooters owing to the way the game plays.

  • The first of the side missions that I took on was Operation Phoenix, set in an asteriod field near Uranus. The goal is to sneak onboard an SDF cruiser and recover a prototype Jackal fighter armed with laser weapons. With a slower firing rate and higher damage, the laser was developed by SDF teams; the SDF’s emphasis on military means that they are more advanced than SATO forces with respect to equipment, rather like how Zeon was the first to employ mobile suits and Vers had Kataphrakts powered by the Aldnoah system.

  • The second side mission I attempted was Operation Taken Dagger: over Neptune, I participated in the rescue of UNSA engineers and recover a prototype heavy weapon. One of the more entertaining aspects about space combat in Infinite Warfare is the ability to use a grappling hook as a weapon to execute SDF soldiers. This marks the first time since 007: Agent Under Fire where I’ve had access to a grappling hook – the Q-Claw of Agent Under Fire  was remarkably amusing to use in the multiplayer, being able to adhere to any surface and pull a user along quickly to otherwise unreachable places on the map.

  • Stealth is usually the smartest option where available: I snuck around the shadows and used melee takedowns to silently dispatch SDF soldiers, making use of a proximity scan to constantly track where enemy soldiers were. With all of the engineers rescued, the next part of the mission is to recover the prototype P-LAW and make use of it: like all of the heavy weapons, it is an immensely powerful weapon that shreds and is balanced out with its inability to be resupplied from ammunition creates.

  • Operation Safe Harbour involves defending space stations from SDF forces in orbit above the Earth. Beyond the usual engagement of SDF Skelters, there is also a pair of SDF destroyers that need to be eliminated, as well. They possess heavy armour and are bristling with weapons: my strategy was to stay afar and eliminate the weapons first with the 30 mm cannon, before pounding the ships with the 50 mm cannon. It’s a bit of an arduous process, but sustained fire results in a very rewarding sight as the SDF destroyer explodes in a blinding flash of light.

  • On my HUD, it says that I’ve defeated an enemy ace in combat. The aces and other high-value targets are figures instrumental to the SDF, but fighting them in the chaos means that there’s no stage-piece boss battle – they would fully blend amongst the regular forces were it not for an indicator over their person, and while they might be slightly tougher than an ordinary soldier, they can still be downed pretty quickly, bringing to mind how quickly bosses in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands are taken out.

  • The last of the side missions I took on before moving on to Operation Burn Water was Operation Pure Threat, set in an asteroid thicket above Europa. What initially looks to be a waste of time, when Reyes finds a derelict SDF vessel, turns out to be an ambush, and in the chaos, I bag yet another elite SDF pilot. In something like Gundam and Aldnoah, figures of importance usually pilot more powerful machines, but the reality is that ace pilots are known for their skill rather than the quality of their weapons. As such, in Infinite Warfare, while ace pilots may manoeuvre more skilfully, they aren’t any harder to shoot down than other enemies.

  • The missions to infiltrate SDF vessels and recover high value items brings to mind the sort of challenges surrounding learning about when Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name is coming out as a home release in Japan. I’ve been keeping an eye on developments, but it seems that news of box office figures, merchandise for sale and general gushing about the film is the only information that exists. There is little doubt in my mind that trying to figure out when this movie will be out on BD is about as difficult as infiltrating an SDF destroyer and stealing a weapons prototype: one wonders what the rationale for being this tight-lipped about the release date is.

  • While Your Name will have to wait for the present, there are fortunately things that can be taken care of in the present, and enjoying Infinite Warfare is one of them. Finally starting Operation Burn Water, I am inserted onto the surface of Titan. It’s a very vivid depiction of what the only moon in the solar system to possess a dense atmosphere looks like: while most of the surface is flat, there are mountains exceeding 1000 meters in height in some places. The game also captures the presence of hydrocarbon lakes and precipitation on Titan’s surface very nicely. Being on Titan also brings to mind a line from Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, in which “methane clouds rain sodium hydroxide, a caustic alkali!”. Sodium hydroxide is not a known form of precipitation on Titan; methane clouds would simply rain methane in liquid form.

  • With this in mind, the chemical reaction between sodium hydroxide and sodium acetate can undergo a reaction to form methane and sodium carbonate (NaOH + CH3COONa → CH4 + Na2CO3). As we have the reaction, I could probably calculate the reaction enthalpies and determine what the energy for the reaction is, then decide whether or not it is feasible for exotic conditions to produce sodium hydroxide in aqueous form from methane clouds in an environment that humans can survive in without any sort of protection. However, I do not imagine readers are here to learn about chemistry: it’s time to return the discussion to Infinite Warfare. After playing the stealth game and sneaking through SDF-occupied grounds, I clear a landing zone for friendly forces, which bring an allied C12 tank along with some heavy armour. These monstrosities are “a cooler version of E3N”, bringing vast amounts of firepower with them and can absorb an incredible amount of damage. Small arms will not harm them at all, requiring a rocket launcher or F-SpAr torch to take out. Having one in my corner allows hordes of SDF soldiers to be dispatched with ease.

  • After the Olympus Mons appears, the C12 and heavy weapons are decimated. An air strike is the only option, and Reyes takes to the skies once more, shooting down multiple SDF air elements before landing at a terminal to remove the safeties, allowing pressures to reach dangerous levels. Once the facility is cleared, it’s a simple matter of lighting the fuse and watching a rather impressive explosion from the fuelling tower.

  • The EBR-800 has quickly turned into one of my favourite weapons: it doubles as an assault rifle and can be counted upon in a pinch. Looking through my site’s archive, March has been a busy month, featuring 56 percent more posts than February even though I’ve been about as busy at work this month as I was last month. It’s not often that I have time to sit down and relax, but weekends are the time to do so: the weather’s finally beginning to feel like spring, and after stepping out today for some errands, I also enjoyed fried chicken for dinner. A year ago, I was on the flight home from Laval, and although I fell ill shortly after returning, I recovered just in time for exam season to kick in. These days, I’ve got no exams, although my subconscious plainly thinks I’m still a student; one dream I had recently was that I failed to submit assignments for several consecutive weeks, only to begin wondering why I was concerned before waking up.

  • Despite making it back out, Reyes is shot down and left adrift in orbit around Titan with E3N. It’s hauntingly beautiful up here, and E3N’s presence is a reassuring one, keeping Reyes company until the Tigress picks him up. One aspect I’ve not mentioned too much yet is Sergeant Omar’s gradual warming to E3N – despite considering him a disposable tool early on, Omar comes to trust E3N and cracks jokes with Reyes, being a character I’ve come to respect. The characters in Infinite Warfare share a strong sense of camaraderie, allowing me relate and yearn to see what happens next to them next.

After learning that the side missions reset with the completion of a main mission, I’m likely to go back and finish all of the side missions I’ve unlocked so far, having completed Operation Burn Water, before moving onto the next mission. Unlike previous instalments of Call of Duty except maybe Black Ops III, Infinite Warfare has created a new means of approaching missions and encouraging replay of its campaign. Consequently, while the space shooter setting might be viewed as being derivative or unremarkable, Infinite Warfare‘s campaign has proven to be the strongest of the Call of Duty campaigns since the days of Modern Warfare, offering numerous options for players even if the game ultimately is very linear in nature. These directions also mean that, with the new choices available for players, the game will take a bit longer to complete. Consequently, I’m going to switch over to Titanfall 2 and also go through the Call of Duty Modern Warfare: Remastered campaigns in the near future; owing to upcoming events, I would like to complete these games before said event arrives. With this being said, I am not leaving Infinite Warfare behind: most likely, I will resume once mid-May arrives.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare- Impressions of the campaign after an hour

“This is Admiral Salen Kotch of the Olympus Mons. You are defeated. Death is no disgrace!” -Admiral Salen Kotch

Despite being one of the most maligned installments in the Call of Duty franchise, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (Infinite Warfare from here on out for brevity) managed to pull my curiosity with its setting and premise, where humanity’s efforts to colonise other locales in the solar system eventually results in the formation of a radical military faction known as the Settlement Defense Front (SDF), who mount an assault against the United Nations Space Alliance (UNSA) to break a long-standing stalemate. The game begins with a botched operation to retrieve a weapons prototype, and in the aftermath, the SDF launch a surprise on the UNSA, crippling their fleet during the Fleet Week celebration events through a combination of hijacking the UNSA’s AATIS guns and through the deployment of the Olympus Mons, the SDF’s flagship that is now armed with the F-SpAr weapon. Despite the efforts of Leftenant Nick Reyes, only two UNSA vessels survive — he is subsequently promoted to Commander and given captaincy of the Retribution, with the mission of delaying the SDF long enough for the UNSA to rebuild their fleet. Through the campaign’s first few missions, I’ve seen the unsuccessful mission to retrieve the F-SpAr, watched the SDF attack on Fleet Week celebrations and have flown into space with the Jackal interdiction fighter, capable of operating in both an atmosphere and the vacuum of space. So far, it’s been a fantastic introduction to Infinite Warfare, and all of the negativity out there surrounding Infinite Warfare appears to have been left behind on the surface as I take flight into the void of space and begin the task of regaining the initiative in a fight with the SDF.

The premise of extremist groups forming shortly after human efforts to colonise space has long been explored as a topic in Mobile Suit Gundam, where the EFSF began contending with the Principality of Zeon as political relations between earth and its colonies decayed. In a manner of speaking, Infinite Warfare appears to be what Mobile Suit Gundam would look like had the weapons and concepts been designed in North America as opposed to Japan, featuring fighter craft in place of humanoid mecha but otherwise share the fundamental idea of a totalitarian regime fighting against a weary democratic system, opening with a surprise attack and placing focus around one ship (the Retribution stands in for White Base and the Nahel Argama). However, instead of watching things, Infinite Warfare places players directly into the boots of a pilot set in a world where there are no exceptionally powerful weapons. The absence of a powerful game-changer such as the Gundam means that Infinite Warfare is aiming to tell a different story about war than Mobile Suit Gundam does — while Gundam aims to show the horrors of warfare, it also strives to discuss the possibility and what can lie beyond war, achieved because of an extraordinary weapon that defeats other weapons. Lacking this, Infinite Warfare is perhaps more cautious in its story, and this is where I am headed now in the campaign, to see what happens next to Commander Reyes and the Retribution.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Even though I know it’s well-crafted skybox, reflective materials and a single directional light, in conjunction with some shaders, the view from Europa’s surface is phenomenal; I spend a few moments admiring it before I proceed with the mission. When I first started Infinite Warfare, I was hit immediately with a hiccough in that the game would freeze up, crash and send me back to my desktop. It plainly was not my computer’s specs, so I did some investigation and found that AVG was causing the issue. Adding the entire directory fixes things, and at last, I find myself ready to begin.

  • The question I can expect of some readers would be why in the world I would even consider, much less go through and play a game like Infinite Warfare. Aside from the fact that I am Infinite Zenith, the honest answer is that I’ve been intrigued by the game’s premise, and the campaign seemed to be a fun adventure. Thus, while some folks may express a certain amount of disgust, yes, I did end up buying the game and I’m enjoying it, so I will be doing talks on this game, although not with the same frequency as I did for each of the war stories from Battlefield 1.

  • The weapons in Infinite Warfare are quite foreign to me despite being derived off modern firearms. I’m wielding the NV4 here, the default SATO assault rifle. With low recoil and a slower firing rate, the weapon is a ballistic type, meaning it can punch through walls. The weapon players equip has a variable magnification holographic sight and a suppressor, reflecting on the operation’s covert nature.

  • The secondary weapon players have access to is the FHR-40, a ballistics-based submachine gun resembling the FN P90. With a large magazine and high rate of fire, the weapon is countered with weaker rounds and higher recoil. Moving swiftly through the facility and clearing out any SDF forces, the seventh SCAR team quickly makes its way to where the F-SpAr prototype is. Players control Dan “Wolf” Lyall in this mission.

  • One of the heavy weapons in Infinite Warfare, the F-SpAr torch is a man-portable version of the F-SpAr directed energy weapon and is the only weapon that can damage the C12 bipedal tanks that appear. The beam emitted by the weapon can lock onto enemies and explode organics into a red paste; the weapon’s damage output is immense, but so is its firing rate (it can burn through an entire magazine in seconds). Despite their efforts, Lyall’s team fails their mission and are ultimately executed by Kotch’s men.

  • The Geneva, Switzerland of the future is filled with skyscrapers; beautifully rendered here, the combination of a cityscape with large battleships gives a sense of scale that provides an impressive backdrop. E3N is introduced here, and I immediately take a liking to his personality, which gives the sense of being both reliable and having a witty character that adds much to lighten up the atmosphere in what is otherwise a very serious-feeling game.

  • After the dropship I’m riding is shot down by the AATIS network, Reyes finds himself crashing into a shopping centre where SDF forces have landed; they begin shooting civilians, but before Reyes and Salter can be killed, Reyes is given the Kendall 44 sidearm and takes out two SDF soldiers. I immediately set about finding a primary weapon. The first weapon that I encountered was the Karma-45, which resembles the Kris Vector 45 ACP.

  • While there are skyscrapers all around, Reyes is shot down over the older districts of Geneva, as evidenced by the buildings here. SDF soldiers all around begin massacring civilians, and one aspect of the game that unsettled me was when I accidentally fired upon what appeared to be a civilian crossing my sights, killing them. However, even with this occurrence, the game itself did not end, standing in contrast with shooters that enforce a do-no-harm approach.

  • One feature in Infinite Warfare that I particularly like is the grenade cooking indicator, which shows how long one has before the grenade will go off. Because enemies will try to vacate the blast radius of a grenade, cooking one will give them much less time to react. The feature was added in Call of Duty: Ghosts, which had a few space missions but otherwise looked unremarkable. I ended up passing over this one, and from the sounds of things, Ghosts proved quite unpopular.

  • Here, I am equipped with the Volk, a directed-energy assault rifle that resembles the AK-47 in design. Having a high damage but low accuracy and rate of fire, the weapon is quite commonly found in-game. Insofar, I’m not too sure what the precise difference between energy weapons and ballistic weapons are: I’ve heard that energy weapons can regenerate ammunition in their magazines over time but cannot penetrate surfaces, whereas ballistic weapons are more powerful and can punch through surfaces.

  • Here, I wield the RAW light machine gun, pushing through the burning streets of Geneva en route to the AATIS control station. Owing to the way the weapons work in Infinite Warfare work, it stands to reason that it’s a good idea to have an energy weapon and a ballistic weapon so one can be ready for most situations. In general, I always stick with a good all-around weapon, like an assault rifle, and then pair it with any other weapon with a more specialised role.

  • An SDF gunship makes it difficult to close in on the AATIS control facility, but fortunately, one has access to some friendly close-air support, which will sweep through the area and clear out large numbers of enemies very quickly. With this feature in mind, I pushed up the hill and hid in a downed dropship while awaiting for the support to come back online after taking out ground infantry.

  • Designating the SDF gunship as a target is the only way I can think of for taking it out quickly: other mechanisms are ineffective or will expose one to the elements, since I don’t think there are any MANPADs conveniently hanging around for players to use. Once this threat is neutralised, players enter the facility and regain control of the AATSI guns, learning that there is a spy, Akeel Min Riah, an SDF agent responsible for sabotaging the UNSA. After Riah is apprehended, Reyes and the other SCAR operatives take to the skies.

  • The transition from boots-on-the-ground gameplay to taking control of a spacecraft is remarkably smooth, and if I had to guess, I imagine that the cutscenes incorporate some trickery to give the sense of multi-scale; through my research, I realised that true multi-scale will likely remain unattainable with current generation technology owing to the allocation of resources in order to smoothly transition from one scale to another. Instead, various sleight of hand techniques, such as altering the scale of objects and spaces, are used to convey differences in scale.

  • The first space combat sequence of Infinite Warfare is ferocious and fast-paced. One of the features that proved to be unexpected was how the Jackals handle in flight. Movement is more similar to walking than flying, similar to the Banshees of Halo, and so, I found that it makes more sense to have standard mouse look directions while in flight, rather than the inverted that I prefer for conventional flight controls.

  • The “dog fight mode” mechanic from Ace Combat: Assault Horizon appears in Infinite Warfare, allowing players to lock onto fast-moving enemies and have the autopilot steer so that they may concentrate on shooting. The mechanic was a bit of a contentious point, but it’s straightforwards to shoot down enemy fighters without it: to those folks who dislike it, there’s nothing stopping them from simply not using it. Further to this, it turns out that higher difficulties remove this ability entirely, forcing players to depend on a sure aim to shoot down SDF fighters.

  • While we are on the topic of Ace CombatAce Combat 7: Skies Unknown was recently announced for PC. There’s no concrete release date, but the game is powered by the Unreal Engine and set in Strangereal, making it the first-ever Ace Combat game set in Strangereal to be on PC. The game’s a little more than half finished by this point in time and is likely to come out later this year; I’m excited and might pick it up shortly after launch if the PC version proves to be well-received. Back in Infinite Warfare, I pummel an enemy cruiser here with the 50 mm cannon, eventually turning it into a glowing pile of wreckage.

  • The sudden arrival of the Olympus Mons was a bit of a shock and changes up the tenour dramatically: listening to the radio chatter, a sense of concern is conveyed when Salter and the others note that nothing the SATO forces have is effective against the super-carrier. However, exhibiting the qualities of a capable leader, Reyes orders his forces to concentrate fire on the vessel even as it destroys a SATO vessel in one shot. This action is reminiscent of Théoden King, who rallied his men and ordered them to “reform the line” when the oliphants appeared.

  • These overwhelmingly large beasts instill fear in their enemies through their size, but in giving his orders, Théoden forces his men to rally and regroup before fear kicks in, causing discord. His decision to take them head-on might be questionable from a tactical perspective, as it would maximise casualties, but from a strategic perspective, was probably a better move, since the act would show the Haradrim that their greatest weapon, fear, would not be efficacious here. Returning to Infinite Warfare, the Olympus Mons is the largest and most powerful warship ever built in this universe, with a length of 927 meters. Reyes hands control over to Ethan and things momentarily becomes a rail shooter, where the only goal is to damage the ballistic cannons on the Olympus Mons.

  • The Retribution executes a tactical collision (really a more professional way of saying “we’re ramming it”), forcing the Olympus Mons to retreat. In the aftermath, Reyes returns to the Retribution and learns of the extent of the damage that the SDF has inflicted. He is promoted to commander and tasked with keeping SDF forces at bay while the SATO fleet regroups and rebuilds. Speaking freely, I’m highly excited to push forwards with the campaign after the first set of missions, but the unexpected arrival of the Kiniro Mosaic: Pretty Days OVA will require some minor adjustments to my schedule so I can get a talk out on that soon.

An hour into Infinite Warfare, and I’ve been quite pleased at how smoothly the game handles, both with respect to the boots-on-the-ground aspects and the sequence involving Jackal combat. I’ve got no gripes about the gameplay itself, and note that while I did have a bit of trouble starting the game (the fix was adding the entire Infinite Warfare directory into the exceptions for AVG), once things got started, it has been a solid experience. Gunplay is crisp and responsive, more so than any Call of Duty I’ve previously played, and the set pieces are appropriate. From these experiences insofar, I’m enjoying the campaign and its presentation of an interactive variant of the Mobile Suit Gundam story. There might be no Newtypes or mobile suits, but Infinite Warfare‘s first few missions give an excellent sense of what this game’s campaign is about. I am very excited to experience where things go next, and while I’ve only got a minimal interest in the multiplayer, I can say for sure that this game is not one that is deserving of the negativity and vitriol that would better be directed towards more constructive activities.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided- The Pacifist Playthrough and Final Reflections

“The world has changed. The old rules no longer apply.” —Adam Jensen

Upon arrival in London, Jensen and Miller meet with Brown. In light of the credible threat that Marchenko and his men pose to the conference, Brown decides to push forwards with the event, asserting that security has been improved. However, Marchenko’s forces have already infiltrated the event, masquerading as security detail and are planning to poison Brown and his guests with the Orchid. While investigating, Miller is attacked by Marchenko, but is saved by Jensen — despite Miller’s protests about the antidote being useful later, Jensen administers it to Miller and promptly makes his way to the delegates, managing to warn them before they drink the poisoned champagne, saving Brown in the process. Marchenko discovers Jensen’s intervention and demands to meet with him, announcing that he’s rigged nearby residential blocks with explosives. Despite his wish to fight and eliminate Jensen, Marchenko is defeated after Jensen knocks him out, leaving him for the authorities to apprehend. After the event, Brown proves instrumental in repelling the Human Restoration Act. Jensen and Vega meet to discuss the Illuminati influence, and Jensen requests a meeting with Janus. This marks the conclusion of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, a game that, while perhaps not quite as rife with thought-provoking content in its story as its predecessor, has proven to improve on every gameplay aspect that was available in Human Revolution.

Owing to its presentation, Mankind Divided suggests that hunting for the truth is generally involved than initially apparent as a consequence of the intricate networks between individuals in a position of power: by utilising their resources to place people everywhere, it becomes difficult to know who to trust. Jensen’s psychiatrist, for instance, is shown to be closely tied with the Illuminati leader and is therefore able to obstruct Jensen’s quest for the truth in a subtle manner later on. The notion of a person behind a person is one of the thematic elements in Mankind Divided: because of how well-organised the Illuminati are, they are able to greatly challenge Jensen. Marchenko is presented as a major antagonist in Mankind Divided with the aim of fighting for Augmented Rights even if blood is shed, but ultimately, he’s a mere pawn. With the game over, there are no more enemies to take on as of yet, reflecting on how in reality, individuals who seek the truth must be fully committed to their cause, as the journey is a very tricky one. The execution of Mankind Divided means that there will likely be a continuation in the future, but for now, I’ve found Mankind Divided to be a very enjoyable game: the story was modestly engaging, but solid game play allows for players to complete objectives in novel ways that are now equally viable. I’ve opted for a stealth/hacking/non-lethal approach, and in the end, was rewarded with one of the most prestigious achievements for my troubles: the Pacifist Achievement

Screenshots and Commentary

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  • The London skyline looks amazing and brings to mind the golden filter that Human Revolution was best known for. Supposed to evoke imagery of a golden age, a renaissance of human augmentation, that period came to an abrupt end at Panchea, and as Marchenko says in the trailer, the golden age has ended. Appropriately, the golden hues dominating Human Revolution‘s colour palette is gone.

  • Unlike Panchea, a large facility for processing water and managing climate change, the convention center in London is a glitzy locale. After entering the building, one will notice an abundance of restricted areas that Jensen cannot ostensibly enter (that is to say, cannot enter without being fired upon). Because I opted to spec Jensen out for a stealth loadout, sneaking around through these areas and knocking out everyone who sees him is the most efficient way to move through these areas.

  • The bodies of security detail assigned to look over the event can be found at various places in the tower’s offices: several gold masks are also found, and Jensen alerts his higher-ups that the party has already been compromised. Because the impostor guards cannot be immediately identified, I chose to continue on my course, knocking out all opposition and sneaking to the objective.

  • An abundance of non-lethal options mean that I have much more than just the stun gun and tranquiliser rifle to dispatch opponents. The P.E.P.S. cannon proved to be an effective tool for clearing out rooms, while a smaller number of targets could be dispatched using the T.E.S.L.A. darts. Coupled with gas grenades, knocking out everyone is perfectly viable, and at no point in Mankind Divided did I ever feel that I was under-prepared to handle a non-lethal playthrough.

  • The trickiest part of the final mission was probably to knock out eleven of the guards to locate a keycard that would allow Jensen to enter the back rooms and move quickly towards saving the delegates. On my first few attempts, I did not disable the cameras, so on some occasions, cameras would spot the knocked-out guards and an alarm would go off, alerting Marchenko to Jensen’s presence.

  • After experimenting, I would eventually take out all of the guards undetected and could finally make my way to where Miller and the delegates were. The reception to the convention is set in a large, open area with a fantastic panoramic view of the London cityscape, and while there is somewhat of a schedule, I could not help but stop to admire the view for a few moments before continuing on with the mission.

  • The party is ornately furnished, feeling very much like the exhibition I attended back in March at the Laval Virtual Conference. So as long as Jensen does not attack a disguised guard in front of the event’s attendees, he will remain undetected and here, notice the presence of a submachine gun on the ground towards the screen’s lower left side. The submachine guns, I found to be utterly useless for taking up inventory space and not being of much use to someone playing a non-lethal route.

  • In this playthrough, I was not going for the “Foxiest of Hounds” achievement, which is even more diabolical than the “Pacifist” achievement in difficulty: it entails playing through the entire game without being detected and with no alarms set off. If Jensen has the appropriate stealth augmentations and a player has enough patience, it would be quite doable, although I admit, I lack that sort of patience.

  • By this point in time, I’ve got several Praxis kits from experience points, although I was more interested in completing the missions: the Praxis kits gained here do not disappear with the successful completion of a game, as players can unlock a “New Game Plus” mode where all of their augmentations carry over. While I’d certainly like to go through Mankind Divided with all augmentations unlocked, I’m pretty bad at returning to games: consider that I’ve still to go into Valkyria Chronicles and beat the DLCs.

  • I actually wonder whether or not anyone at the anime forum I visit actually managed to beat Mankind Divided: there was much talk on the technical challenges encountered and complaints about the game, but now that I’ve gone through the whole of Mankind Divided, I’ve actually got very little to complain about with respect to its length: playing through the main and side missions, plus exploring infrequently, gave me a total play time of around thirty hours, which is three more than Human Revolution.

  • Another shortcoming in Mankind Divided was the weapon diversity: Human Revolution had some epic weapons, including a rocket launcher, laser rifle and plasma launcher, while Mankind Divided seems to have fewer weapons, replacing them with illustrious weapons instead. A lethal playthrough would be markedly more fun with a laser rifle and plasma launcher, and their inclusion in Human Revolution contributed to why I abandoned my pacifist run there.

  • I figured it wouldn’t be much of a Deus Ex post unless I featured at least one screenshot of Jensen sneaking through a ventilation duct. These ducts provide convenient access ways for players to sneak around, and are especially useful if one does not have the Glass Shield Cloak. Looking briefly at the Steam ratings for this game, I am tempted to write a positive review to offset all of the negative ones surrounding the microtransactions: not once did I ever make use of them, feel disadvantaged from not having them or felt compelled to buy them, so I conclude that people who hated the system are complaining for complaining’s sake.

  • The grenade launcher that Marchenko was shown using in the first trailer makes a return from Human Revolution: its small size makes it an attractive item to carry around, and it can be configured to fire explosive or gas rounds. Upon spotting a group of hostiles from a distance, I equipped the grenade launcher and fired my only grenade of the game: a single gas round to knock everyone out, followed by remote hacking to buy myself thirty seconds of breathing room from the turret.

  • After saving the delegates, I had but one objective: to stop Marchenko. Players have the option of stopping Marchenko first, but I figured that the delegates would probably be more important. Having chose to save Miller, I have no more antidote, but making haste will also allow for the delegates to be saved. The best possible results in the final mission is: Miller lives, the delegates live and Marchenko is stopped, and the outcome can only be achieved by giving Miller the antidote.

  • I got lost trying to reach the exhibition hall to fight Marchenko, and during the time spent wandering the halls of the conference venue, I knocked out virtually all of the remaining guards for experience points and loot. I note that, even though I spent a fair bit of time here beating up ARC guards, Marchenko did not detonate the bombs (probably because I was still under ten minutes as Marchenko stipulated).

  • While I’ve maxed out my T.E.S.L.A. darts to increase the number of maximum targets and lock-on range, I’ve yet to actually unlock the achievement for locking onto and taking out four opponents at once, but this augmentation has been, alongside remote hacking, one of my favourite of the new ones.

  • Today was New Year’s Eve, and that means this marks my final post of 2016. I woke up to moody grey skies that gave way to a light snowfall by the time I set out for a morning walk, and spent most of the afternoon playing Sim City 4. There’s a Flames game tonight at the Scotiabank Saddle Dome against the Phoenix Coyotes, and I look forwards to an interesting match, since the Flames seem to have a bit of difficulty with the Pacific Division’s bottom-most team: each game we’ve played them this season, fights have broken out. Although we’ve bested them every game this season, three of the four games were decided by a one-goal difference.

  • The pacifist achievement is not voided if Jensen destroys turrets, and armour piercing rounds are ideally-suited for that purpose: five to seven rounds is all it takes to turn a turret into a flaming pile of wreckage. Unlike their predecessors’ effects, EMP grenades no longer cause robots or turrets to explode, and the security robots in Mankind Divided are much less intimidating than the large war droids I fought back in Human Revolution.

  • While Jensen no longer has a laser rifle, it seems that Marchenko has access to a directed energy weapon that handles similarly to the fuel-rod guns of Halo: Combat Evolved. When this boss fight started, I immediately bucked behind cover and destroyed the turret at the center of the room, then used remote hacking to stop the drones Marchenko deploys. By this point in the game, I had accumulated some thirty bio-cells, so I stopped to regenerate, then activated my cloak.

  • As Marchenko walked by, I uncloaked and fired my stun gun, then proceeded to knock him out with a punch to the face. I subsequently pulled the Praxis kit from him, ending the game. I was disappointed when the achievement popped up, saying I had completed the game, and wondered where I accidentally caused a death, but then the credits began rolling. When they finished, I unlocked several achievements, including the Pacifist achievement. With Mankind Divided now in the books, I’ve beaten all of the 2016 games I bought this year (DOOMBattlefield 1 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided), so moving into 2017, I’ll divide my time between Far Cry 4Sim City 4 and Battlefield 1. That’s pretty much it from me: I’ll be dropping by tomorrow with my New Year’s post, and until then, Happy New Year!

Stipulating that Mankind Divided must be completed without killing anyone, the Pacifist Achievement is one of the most tricky ones to accomplish (besides “Foxiest of Hounds”, which involves beating the game without triggering any alarms) because of the game mechanics: despite diligence from the players, enemies can nonetheless die in strange ways even when dispatched with non-lethal means. However, I count myself as lucky: I made use of the non-lethal weapons and augmentations exclusively. In conjunction with judiciously checking to make sure no one died by my hand (and reloading if anyone was killed), I eventually reached the Marchenko fight. While seemingly an overwhelming opponent armed with a powerful laser weapon and melee skills surpassing Jensen’s, I ended up cloaking, sneaking up behind him, tasering him and then delivering a simple non-lethal takedown: by this point in the game, my augmentation loadout was optimised for stealthy combat, making the boss fight a very easy one. I was quite happy about the fact that, even though this was an arena-style fight similar to those of Human Revolution, there is a non-lethal option. One would wonder how non-lethally taking out bosses would affect the storyline had Mankind Divided been longer, but with Marchenko defeated, and each of the delegates saved, I managed to get the best possible ending in Mankind Divided. After three months of playing through Mankind Divided, I’ve completed the game now, and it was quite an impressive journey: although not quite as memorable from a narrative perspective, Mankind Divided is nonetheless a fantastic addition to the Deus Ex series, and I look forwards to seeing what lies ahead on Jensen’s quest to stop the Illuminati. My final verdict on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a simple one. I had a fantastic time in the game, and it was well worth picking up as a pre-order.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided- Review and Impressions Escaping G.A.R.M. and The Prague Curfew

“Treat people like animals long enough, they’ll start acting like animals.” –Adam Jensen

Viktor Marchenko ambushes Jensen at the G.A.R.M. facility, injecting him with the Orchid agent and leaving Jensen to his death. However, Jensen’s genetic makeup means that, while he is nonetheless incapacitated for a period of time, the Orchid has no long-lasting effects on him. He escapes the G.A.R.M. facility and returns to Prague, which is under a curfew as a result of an augmented uprising. Making his way through the rainy streets to TF29 headquarters, Jensen learns from Miller that the mercenaries had cleared G.A.R.M. out of anything useful. When he mentions the Dvali have some sort of connection to Marchencko, Miller sends him deep into their territory and Jensen learns of Marchenko’s plan to strike businessman Nathaniel Brown’s Safe Harbour Convention in London. This is where the Human Restoration Act will be passed, and Marchenko plans to stop it before augmented rights erode completely, but ironically, as Brown stands to lose a vast sum of money, he himself is also opposed to the bill. As Brown is instrumental to stopping the Human Restoration Act, Miller immediately organises the TF29 to head for London, with the aim of stopping Marchenko and uncovering the conspirators behind the Human Restoration Act’s passage.

The Human Restoration Act (officially “United Nations Resolution 3507”) is a policy that would require the removal and downgrading of all overly powerful and any unlicensed augmentations. Once enacted, it would require people with mechanical augmentations to have a control chip inserted, and to have official papers regarding their augmentations, while individuals resistant to the terms would be incarcerated. This act is surprisingly similar to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement in that both motions are hidden behind closed doors, with the few making the decision for the many. In the TPP, the most disturbing clauses stated that, nations ratifying the TPP would be forced to conform with American laws, allowing large trade associations to pursue piracy cases independently of the signatory nation’s internal laws. In its excesses, the TPP is said to have been intended to allow these associations the power to seize and destroy equipment suspected of being involved in piracy, as well as the arrest and suing of individuals allegedly involved in piracy: corporations could then abuse these laws to destroy electronic equipment of anyone that challenged them, resulting in a future fraught with censorship and information control. Fortunately, the TPP does not appear to have much support in the United States and is unlikely to be ratified, but its implications would have had far-reaching consequences. The scope and scale of these treaties is immense, and therefore, it is unsurprising that there are parties in settings such as that of Mankind Divided, that are willing to use force in order to halt these highly detrimental policies from seeing the light of day; while perhaps well-intentioned, the use of force begets a ceaseless cycle of violence, and in Mankind Divided, I’m going to try and finish the game in the way I know best: with the CASIE mod and liberal application of non-lethal methods.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • This is my 760th post. I played through the G.A.R.M. facility a little more than a week ago, and was in the throes of a cold that was intensifying. Having spent the day at work, I was coughing up a storm, but other than that, I was well enough to complete this mission. The foes here are augmented, and will immediately cloak or activate their Titan Shield at first sign of trouble, but they aren’t tougher than other opponents against the stun gun and other nonlethal means.

  • Thus, armed with the tranquiliser rifle, I hopped onto the service crane and made my way across the ceiling, using the darts to quietly and non-lethally stop all opponents. Once everyone in the room was downed, I dropped down and looted all of the unconscious guards, then hacked everything in sight to acquire a vast amount of experience points.

  • The tranquiliser rifle does not appear to suffer from any bullet drop, and unlike the stun gun, is capable of defeating light body armour, although the tranquiliser agent will take a few moments to kick in. Naturally, landing headshots will speed the process up, and with a reasonably high accuracy when aiming down sights, this is my go-to weapon for any long-range engagements.

  • I ultimately kept the combat rifle around with the aim of dealing with robots: although I’ve fully invested in the remote hacking augmentations (which allows Jensen to disable robots, turrets and cameras for up to thirty seconds), there come points where it’s more useful to blow up robots and turrets. Armour-piercing rounds will defeat these implements very quickly, and even on a non-lethal playthrough, I found that having an effective weapon against these opponents would prove useful.

  • I decided that I should probably hit the hay to more effectively fight off my cold and so, for the second hanger, I wanted to move through it much more quickly; I activated the cloak and snuck through the area undetected, returning to the surface and the helipad for an extraction back to Prague. The decision ended up being a wise one: I went to sleep, woke up at around nine the next day, ate some breakfast, went back to sleep, woke for lunch and went back to sleep. By the late afternoon, I was on the mend from the cold, and by the time dinner ended, I was in good enough shape to push out the Shuumatsu no Izetta final discussion.

  • Back in Prague for the last time, the streets are hostile as police patrol the streets, punishing citizens who have broken curfew; the curfew was imposed with martial law after augmented citizens begin rioting. If memory serves, there was also a riot on Jensen’s return to Detriot. The city hub areas were much smaller in Human Revolution and could be explored very quickly, while it takes around five minutes to get from one side of Prague to the other. In exchange, Human Revolution had more city hub areas.

  • Under the moody evening skies, rain falls, and police will not hesitate to open fire on Jensen if he remains in the open for too long. After entering the LIMB clinic and talking to Alex, I tried finding the Praxis kit stashed away in the ceiling crawl-space. After trying for a quarter-hour to enter the space from within the derelict clinic, I gave up, activated my cloak and got in from a vent on the outside.

  • I did end up finding a revolver in one of the garages in Prague, and while I loved the Human Revolution revolver for its explosive rounds (allowing me to destroy any robot in seconds), the revolver in Mankind Divided is rather more balanced. It can be customised, but in a non-lethal playthrough, I never found much use for it. Otar has a custom revolver with a mounted 4x scope on it that can be looted from him, but doing that too early in the game will lock Jensen out of several quest lines.

  • In the future, holograms are common place, and here, I evade officers firing upon me by ducking into the church that I would have visited had I chosen to confront the bomb-maker. Compared to Palisade, the loot here is not quite as good and could be explored much more quickly. I wonder if it’s possible to return to the bank while Prague is under curfew, but with the interest of wrapping up the side and main missions, I decided against revisiting the bank.

  • Knowing that I won’t be returning to Jensen’s apartment again for the remainder of Mankind Divided, I clear it out of all remaining items, crafting parts, and then headed downstairs to sell everything I didn’t need before returning to talk to David Sarif about the mystery augmentations. He offers no insights as to who installed them but, since they work, advises Jensen to make full use of them. Unlike my playthrough of Human Revolution, I did not keep an eye out for buying weapon accessories: I probably should’ve added a laser pointer to both my stun gun and tranquiliser rifle to bolster their accuracy.

  • “The Last Harvest” is one of the three remaining side missions to complete, and requires a few trips between the districts of Prague. I opted to go for the lengthier but more rewarding path to save Daria, using the CASIE augmentation to talk her out of a fight. I’ve heard that Daria can be confronted directly, making her a mini-boss of sorts, and in my case, I managed to use diplomacy to settle the issue. On my first try, I tried hacking one of the locked cages and Daria instantly opened fire, leading me to reload: while kicking her ass would’ve been easy, it may have also voided my no-kill playthrough.

  • The side missions in Prague become much more challenging to complete, if only for the fact that it’s quite difficult to freely move around. The subway’s been shut down; while loading different zones, earlier loading screens depicted Jensen sitting on the train, but with the curfew in place, Jensen simply jumps onto the tracks and walks to his destination. Here, I spring K from a prison after speaking with Little K in the sewers on the “K is for Každý” mission.

  • Even with Jensen’s inventory space maxed out, there are many cases where one is forced to pick which items they keep. Most weapons retail reasonably, so it’s worth hanging onto them for selling later on, and here, I find a Devastator, an automatic variant of the shotgun that fires armour-piercing rounds. While I’ve found stealth to be the most effective way of moving about, one wonders how players who’ve invested in a combat build would handle the turrets and drones, so great are their numbers.

  • The last main mission in Prague is to enter Dvali territory and obtain information about how they’ve been assisting Marchenko. Because I chose to let Gallios go into hiding rather than kill him, the Dvali territory is hostile, and I would make use of stealth to make my way to Radich Nikoladze’s office. Had Jensen killed Gallios earlier, it would allow him to walk through the front doors and talk to Otar directly, at the expense of the Pacifist achievement.

  • While remote hacking is incredibly useful, there are points in the game where I simply do not have the cover or time to successfully disable a turret: in those cases, I open fire on them. It turns out that it takes nearly two full magazines to destroy a turret when firing conventional ammunition, while some six to ten rounds of armour piercing rounds can do the same. With the drone destroyed, it’s a simple matter of activating the cloak and moving through the laser beams undetected.

  • Here, I make use of a gas grenade to incapacitate an entire room without killing anyone. Gas grenades are, in conjunction with EMP grenades, the most useful of the grenades in the game for a non-lethal playthrough, allowing Jensen to clear out groups of enemies at once. Players might exercise additional caution if they lack the implanted rebreather augmentation, which allows Jensen to move for short periods in clouds of gas without being knocked out.

  • Once Jensen has the intel, it’s time to take off. Having knocked out everyone en route into the Dvali theatre, it was a simple matter to walk back outside from here. by this point in time, I’ve knocked out most of the police elements patrolling the streets, meaning that the only real threat to Jensen are the turrets: shooting them with EMP rounds disables them for a few moments, but remote hacking allows them to be disabled for upwards of thirty seconds.

  • Here, I look at the interior of the Dvali theatre once more, now that the air is not likely to be filled with hot lead from my presence. I’ve bought all of the attachments I could for the combat rifle, allowing Jensen to switch quickly between the reflex sight and ACOG, enable and disable the laser and remove the silencer on the fly. The new weapon modification system in Mankind Divided is modelled after that of Crysis, but is immensely effective, allowing Jensen to be ready for most situations in a very short period of time.

  • Before taking off for London, I made my way to apartments in Prague’s northwest corner and sold off all of the items I would not be needing to one of the clerks. With Jensen’s inventory clear, and all of the side missions in the books, the time has come to begin the final phase of the game. Looking through the time I’ve spent in Mankind Divided, I’ve not had any of the issues that folks from an anime forum I frequent had: the game downloaded and decompressed quickly, and never lagged at all from either a CPU or GPU bottleneck, despite my machine being nearly three and a half years old now by this point (albeit re-outfitted with a GTX 1060).

  • Before leaving Prague, I take one last look at the cityscape by night. Those large structures in the background are known as the Palisade Blades, data centers for the Palisade company. Players do not have an opportunity to visit their interiors in the main game, but an eBook in-game describes them as having highly sophisticated security features that render them nigh-impervious to intrusion. While I’ve not picked up the season pass or kept up with developments there, I believe that DLCs do feature a mission in these facilities. It’s not worth 30 dollars just to play two missions, however, so I’ll probably wait until the prices are a little better.

The G.A.R.M. mission proved to be much shorter than expected, and my existing set of augmentations proved to be more than sufficient to move through the facility. I expended a large number of my tranquiliser darts on guards in the first hanger, then switched to my cloak and bypassed everyone in the second hanger, making my way to the helipad and leaving the area. Despite being quite sick at the time, I finished the level on short order, returning to Prague for the curfew. No longer able to freely walk the streets without being shot at, I made extensive use of my Glass Shield Cloak and movement silencers, plus remote hacking, to move between places. After completing the remainder of the side quests and selling off any gear I did not need, I headed off for the helipad for the game’s final mission. At around twenty-nine hours in, Mankind Divided has had more content than Human Revolution, allowing the game to flesh out what’s been going on. Some individuals have decried the game’s short length as a deal-breaker, but overall, Mankind Divided has been exceptionally well-written, and moving forwards, it’s time to hit the London convention to stop whatever machinations that Marchenko has in store for the convention and the world at large.