Game review: Tom Clancy’s The Division is good fun but a bit of a grind in parts

With all of post-apocalyptic Manhattan to play in and a bunch of bad guys to kill with a bunch of big weapons, The Division is let down by its RPG elements

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 March, 2016, 9:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 March, 2016, 9:00am

Tom Clancy’s The Division

3.5/5 stars


Anyone remember Freedom Fighters? Probably not. It was a second-gen console game, a post-9/11 release during those times when violence seemed like a natural, justified reaction. Gamers played as a third-person team of American revolutionaries fighting against an alternate-history Soviet threat, in a near-open world New York city.

It was awesome fun, and even if we’re now a little embarrassed about how much we enjoyed it, previews for Tom Clancy’s The Division made us nostalgic over the striking similarities. Russian conspiracy? Check. Manhattan under threat? Yup. Teams of sleeper agents out to shoot their way to a solution? It all seemed so similar. Except, it’s not.

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Available for the PS4, Xbox One and PC, The Division is kind of a third-person shooter, but it’s also sort of a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (think World of Warcraft). Like the incredibly popular first-person shooter Destiny, it attempts to blend the two into a new genre that’s fit for our new online world. And as with anything fresh, there’s always a bit of fumbling till you get things right.

You do get to run around a gloriously post-apocalyptic Manhattan armed with a range of weapons, and even if the AI is relatively predictable, there are plenty of thrills as you shoot, snipe and generally kill your way to victory. But the RPG part got us down – it’s all just a bit of a slog really, and you’re routinely forced to redo missions over and over until you can level up and arm yourself with the right kind of equipment.

Thankfully, that can be done with the aid of fellow fighters and the team-based thrills take precedence here over solo adventures. Flanking enemies as you outmanoeuvre them through clever tactics is exceedingly fun when it’s done right, and no doubt the game reaps rewards as you ascend the learning curve on its 30-plus hour campaign.

But, we don’t know. Maybe the blend of a shooter and RPG in an online setting just hasn’t found its footing. Or maybe the current American political climate has us so disillusioned, that a ’90s action-flick premise rather than anything modern and measured just doesn’t work any more – at least in such a serious setting, which Freedom Fighters was most certainly not.

The Division is a good game and can be fun, but it’s a bit of grind at times.