Friday, March 18, 2016
Tom Clancy's the Division has grown into a phenomenon within a week of its release, generating raving reviews everywhere and building up unprecedented player engagement. The game broke most sales records and it blew the lid off a number of other metrics which are perhaps even better measures of success than the greenbacks flowing in from customers. Arguably, the game is the first one which truly works as a MMO on consoles.
Indeed, everything about the game seems right: from branding to execution, its creators didn't miss a beat, and the back-story clearly bears the hallmarks of Tom Clancy's style: it is about anarchy striking one of the world's largest urban concentrations, the New York metropolitan area, at the end of a viral outbreak which decimates the population and breaks down the law-enforcement and emergency services first, then the very fabric of society. The Division is a special organization which moves in to reclaim the boroughs of the Big Apple lost to crime and lawlessness. The story is obviously inspired by Operation Dark Winter, a bio-terror scenario the US government actually considered back in 2001, so its roots in reality are sturdy. The Division also operates under the National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 51, a government continuity directive signed in 2007 by president Bush.
Still, while most of the reviews coming in are overwhelmingly positive, as reality sets in, some negative feedback is also slowly floating to the surface. While - as said above - the story and the game itself is looking for sturdy anchors to reality, while also looking to reward planning and strategy in classic Tom Clancy style, it fails here and there on account of its very nature.
Most of the vaunted tactics in Tom Clancy games are dependent on insta-kill head-shots and other such realistic combat-elements but when a level 15 enemy can take 5 of them and shrug them right off, the realism that the game guns for takes quite a hit.
The whole premise of the game raises some questions to those truly into the Tom Clancy fiction-universe too: For instance, Division members are sleeper-agents activated at times of national catastrophe, and they operate in plain clothes, raising some serious legal and moral questions: one would indeed be fully justified from both angles to defend him/herself against a plainclothes operative who shoots his/her friend...The Division essentially kills American citizens on American soil with impunity in the game - and that's what the player is supposed to do. It doesn't matter if someone is just standing around on the corner, armed or not: he has to be killed because he's obviously tagged an "enemy" in the game.
All this, plus the naming of various enemy categories (Rioters) and the names of their leaders opens up a nasty can of PC worms that's better left untouched if one is truly only looking to enjoy the game.
The bottom line about The Division is that it's a wonderfully put-together and highly enjoyable game, one that pays a rather peculiar tribute to extrajudicial power, but only when it's in the "right" hands.
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