Game On: “The Division” is a competent, cover-based third person shooter with an open world to explore
Tom Clancy has a history of writing spy and espionage novels. He started making games with Red Storm Entertainment in 1996, and in 2008 the Tom Clancy name was purchased by Ubisoft. Most of the Clancy games are known for their realism, tactical shooting, stealth and a detailed espionage-based story. The newest Tom Clancy game is called “The Division,” and it’s a bit of a departure from what we have seen from this developer.
“The Division” is a third person shooter game set in New York City after a smallpox pandemic has devastated the city. The group the game is named after works for Homeland Security, and they must reestablish control of Manhattan and find the source of the outbreak. The story fits in the Clancy ethos, but the difference is “The Division” has a bunch of new role-playing elements along with common cooperative and competitive online gameplay.
The look of the “The Division” is great. The recreation of NYC makes for a interesting, open world to explore. You can see the plague has taken its toll, because there a bunch of escaped convicts around and there are no cleanup crews or sanitation services. The gameplay is fairly solid, but it does feel a bit different than Clancy games you are used to. Typically Clancy games are hyper-realistic, meaning you can die or kill an enemy with a single shot but this game is more like more modern shooters where it takes a lot to bring down an enemy. It’s okay, but it doesn’t make much sense for the series. As you fight, you earn experience that you can use to upgrade your gear, weapons and your base. Leveling up, gaining new abilities and earning perks are some of the most fun parts of the game.
The typical moment-to-moment gameplay entails cover-based shooting, especially in later parts of the game. This is fine, but the cover system is a bit wonky and I got stuck to things often, which is frustrating when things get tough. Luckily, there are special abilities that can pull you from a tight spot like sticky bombs, turrets, health regeneration and shields. If you pick the right abilities and group of friends, your team can become quite formidable.
Most of the story missions can be played by yourself, but the best way to play is with a group of friends. Finding and making friends to play with is super easy thanks to online match making. The levels are based on the size of the group, and the enemies are based on the group’s strength, so it’s always interesting. The most interesting online gameplay occurs in the middle of the city known as the “The Dead Zone.” It’s separate from the main game and has its own leveling system. When you earn gear in the Dead Zone, you must reach an extraction area and wait for a helicopter to get out. If you die, you lose all the stuff you earned, making it much more nerve racking, especially when it’s a good time for people to kill you since you are vulnerable.
Overall, I enjoyed “The Division.” It is a competent third person cover-based shooter with an interesting story. I like the open world NYC, and the online play is a lot of fun. The Dead Zone is especially cool, because it can be chaotic and full of tension. If you are a fan of tactical shooters like “Destiny” or “Rainbow Six,” you will enjoy this game.
Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]
System: PS4, Xbox One, PC ESRB
Rating: M for Mature: Blood, Intense Violence, Strong Language
Developer: Massive Entertainment