Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC
March 8th, 2016
Review started March 12th and finished March 22nd, 2016.
Review by: Cody Neal Bennett
(Disclaimer: The following review is based on my experience on the Xbox One. Therefore, problems present on other consoles or the PC won’t be mentioned here.)
(Minor Spoilers are present in this review. I mention a piece of Intel that can be found by the player in the game. It has no impact on the story whatsoever)
As snow quickly accumulates onto my character, I realize that the herd of enemies in front of me won’t be easy to rid New York of. They outnumber us five to one and are a couple levels higher than my character. The moon is no longer visible as a blizzard tears through the streets. My friend beside me opens fire into the blizzard with only the health bars of the enemies to aid him in his aiming. It only takes a second for the opposition to realize what’s going on as they reciprocate the gunfire with bullets and flames. Bullets and fire as thick as dragon’s breath shred through the thick blizzard induced veil and another gunfight is officially underway. Moments like this litter The Division, the game announced back at E3 2013 as a MMORPG set in New York.
“A story worth looking into”
The Division is about an elite unit (for a lack of a better term) called the Division, who are agents specially trained to operate independently and cooperatively to restore order in a disastrous situation. They are “activated” after a biological attack on Manhattan cripples the city and sends it plunging into chaos. Looters and gangs run roughshod in the city and The Division’s job is to take the city back. Unlike other games who identify themselves as an MMORPG, The Division has a story worth looking into. As you walk the streets of Manhattan, you will find Intel. The Intel consists of things ranging from phone calls to incident report. My favorite aspect of the Division is some of the Intel you find. Similar to Metal Gear Solid V in a way, Intel contains most of the story. While the story lays down the basic premise and structure, the Intel fills it in beautifully. Another aspect to this are the “ECHOS” that are scattered throughout the devastated city. They are 3D renderings of the past created by the analyzation of security cameras and other data in the near vicinity. They project chilling scenes that, along with the hundreds of pieces of Intel, make the game seem horrifying and realistic. One “ECHO” shows a stopped car with people trapped inside as Sweepers, one of the game’s gangs, surround them. The Sweepers use their flamethrowers and set the car, and the people inside, on fire. The screams echo through the sky as you see one of the victims falling outside the car engulfed in flames. This moment was downright horrifying and some other “ECHOS” manage to transcend it. The story as a whole, however, was predictable. I figured out the story rather quickly due to my obsession with the game’s Intel files. By the time I had gotten halfway through the story missions, I knew who the culprit was by piecing it together. Unfortunately, not everyone pays attention to the Intel, therefore, some people may believe this game has a weak story, when it doesn’t. It requires effort to truly enjoy the narrative, which may be off-putting to some players. Overall, the game’s underlying story is the true star of this game as it fills the seams with realistic and plausible Intel. Outside of the main story, there are plenty of side missions and encounters to do. While they all follow similar constructs, they can hold your interest for a while. Hopefully, future patches and DLC will add more, because saving hostages and doing Mercy Drops get repetitive after a few times through. I thought they would throw some interesting modifiers in there, but all I got was more enemies and more time to hold them off. This is the biggest downfall of The Division. While the map is filled to the brim with side missions and encounters, after about 20 hours, it becomes more of a chore than it does a fun distraction.
“While I don’t mind the bullet sponge nature of the game due to its identified genre, it gets repetitive.”
The Division is an RPG, as mentioned earlier. Along with all the pros of RPG’s, there are some cons. While the game is solid with its shooting mechanics, enemies can be sponges. I won’t be one of those folks who will cry about this, because I get it, it’s an RPG. It’s kind of pointless to have the structure of an RPG if anybody can dispatch an enemy with a few bullets. However, while I don’t mind the bullet sponge nature of the game due to its identified genre, it gets repetitive. It can be toned down a bit in some aspects. I do plenty of DPS, but, sometimes, it takes almost 60 bullets to rid a common enemy of his filthy existence. That may sound alright, but when i was alone and facing fifteen enemies, it can get a bit frustrating. “But Cody, it’s meant to be a squad based shooter.” I would agree with that, but Ubisoft stressed time and time again that this “squad shooter” could be played solo, yet the god-like enemies with their Wolverine like sponginess prove otherwise. I’m not asking for the enemies to be reduced to nothing, I’m just asking for a minor tweak so I don’t immediately feel overwhelmed by Wolverine’s army. The cover system is a solid, but sometimes, can be a bit irritable. While it’s very similar to Gears of War, it doesn’t feel as friendly. On rare occasions, I’ll find myself unable to get into cover, and with the absence of a crouch button, I’ll often be dead before I get a chance to somehow fix it. This leads me to my final annoyance with the games mechanics. For an RPG and Tom Clancy game, you would think there would be some type of stealth system. There is none. Suppressors are useless. I can be a couple blocks back with a suppressed sniper rifle and, when I finally fire and get a headshot, the enemies instantly know my location and start firing. It seems useless to have suppressors in the game when I can’t stealth my way through. Also, there is no takedown option. I should be able to takedown common enemies from behind silently, yet the game makes melee borderline pathetic.
“The Dark Zone was so promising in the beta, but, in the final version, it’s empty and boring.”
The most common activity to do once you hit level 30 is to visit The Dark Zone. It was advertised as the most brutal aspect of the Division, as it contains the best loot in the game. The catch? Players can kill you and take your loot. This would be great, but, so far anyway, The Dark Zone has been mostly empty for me. The Dark Zone was so promising in the beta, but, in the final version, it’s empty and boring. This significantly impacts the replayability after you reach the end game.
“This game has a lot of potential. I don’t want to be that guy, but a Destiny approach to this game might be warranted. You can visit this game in a year and it will be worth more of your time then than now.”
I’ve been on this game’s hype train since it was revealed a few years back. With hype, comes great responsibility. While The Division hits on some cylinders, the shoddy Dark Zone and repetitive game play keep it from being a truly great game. However, Ubisoft seems to have a solid plan for the game down the line with DLC. The Division has a lot of potential. A Destiny approach to this game might be warranted. You can visit this game in a year and it will be worth more your time than now.
Final Score: 7/10