When you emerge in Prague, Jensen’s basically a walking-talking glitch and that’s where augmentation specialist Vaclav Koller comes in. His underground hideout is full of references to music, some of which might ring a bell. Firstly, the AD/GA poster is clearly from AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock”, though if you look closely, it says “For Those About to Play Three Chords” at the bottom. Ouch, they’ve been… thunderstruck! And no, it’s never too soon for a bad pun. Meanwhile, the robot poster on the left is very similar to Rage Against the Machine’s album “The Battle of Los Angeles”.
Nearby, there’s also a Nuns N’ Posers “Hungry for Seduction” poster, which is clearly a more progressive version of Guns N’ Roses “Appetite for Destruction”.
Koller also seems to own a signed poster of trashers Medalicka (i.e. Metallica), with a note that says “Thanks for the augs, man”. Oh great, 30 min drum solos are now a reality…
The game’s spin on Led Zeppelin is a poster of a band named Light Balloon, among others I can’t get my head around. Could that be Rob Zombie or..?
Koller’s outfit has got plenty of punk-inspired patches (Crass?), and he’s also sporting a pin similar to NYC punk legends Ramones. If you’re involved with 3D art, the green smiley pin might be familiar to you – that’s the Greentooth logo of Polycount.
PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC, AUG BOY
Wandering into a music shop, I’d thought maybe there was a secret achievement to strum all the guitars (there isn’t), but then I moved on to inspecting the vinyls. Boy oh boy, was that a jackpot of easter eggs or what! The Doggy Holly vinyl does justice to both the Doge meme and 50’s rock’n’roll good-guy Buddy Holly. Wow, much icon, very glasses indeed. There’s also a record by The Beagles titled “Working Like a Dog”, lyrics straight from “A Hard Day’s Night” by the Beatles. Now which puppy is Ringo on that cover?
Disguised as Cow Bo country man, Bo Diddley is also there rocking his hit “Hey!”. On the right, the “The Speeding Rocks” (brilliant!) are shamelessly ripping off The Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” cover.
Moving on, the Chuck Ray “Eerie sounds” vinyl is an obvious easter egg for “Modern sounds” by Ray Charles. I still haven’t decided if the WTF egg cover is weirder than its original reference, “De-loused in the Comatorium” by Mars Volta. Only 42.8% sure that Tom Miller cover is an allusion to Tom Waits because of the yellow font. Can you guys figure out the rest? Let me know!
DYSTOPIAS AND SPACE OPERAS
Unless you crawl up a vent, your every move in Deus Ex’s universe is under surveillance and scrutiny. If you inspect the pesky cameras around Prague, you’ll notice the label “Big Bro” on them, alluding to the all-seeing Big Brother from George Orwell’s novel “1984”. This familiar number is also used to unlock Koller’s loot storage behind the bookshop.
Hack your way into the laptop at the Time Machine to read an email from R. Brad Burrie, reporting on his failed shipment of vintage books on Train F451. That’s clearly a reference to Ray Bradbury’s famous dystopia “Fahrenheit 451”, where outlawed books are burnt by the so-called firemen. In fact, the code 0451 has cropped up in previous Deus Ex games as well as in Bioshock and Fallout. If you’re just starting out on your first Dubai mission, punch that code into the first keypad to earn “A Heated Combination” achievement.
Obviously, my dystopian holy trinity wouldn’t be complete without an Aldous Huxley reference. The side mission to uncover the deadly side effects of Neon drug points directly to Huxley’s essay “The Doors of Perception”, describing the experiences of taking mescaline. To open the door to Prague’s underground rave, however, I just needed to upgrade my hacking skills.
Know thy neighbour took on a whole new meaning when I broke into Josef Severn’s flat in Zelen apartments. It was my first chilling encounter with the religious group Church of the Machine God, who believe all augmented should “ascend to a singular consciousness” aka die painfully for a fanatic’s ideas. The place is filled with references to Dan Simmons’ sci-fi “Hyperion”: the eerie altar dedicated to “The Void Which Binds”, tinfoil hats, machine schematics, a dead Josef Severn (i.e. Joseph Severn in “Hyperion”) and other themes.
PASS ME THE CONTROLLER
Who doesn’t love the nostalgia of browsing your old video game collection? Rummaging in the basement of Future-Past Antiky shop, where I found a few familiar props and CDs, reminded me of just that. The place’s seen better days, but you can still find Hitman: Codename 47, Tomb Raider: Legend and Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver among the clutter.
Your trusty companion cube from Portal is collecting dust at the antique shop too, though this one’s been opened. The conspiracy theory on the internetz claims that the cube contained remains of other failed human test subjects, but I’ve found no evidence. It’s been taken care of. THEY KNOW.
A fictional Sega game “Knuckles & Knuckles & Knuckles” can be found on the shelves of Tech Noir in Prague. It points to the “& Knuckles” running joke about game reboots, with a groovy tune to illustrate it. Last year, an announcement was made on Sonic’s twitter that this game would come out in 2029, so Deus Ex followed up and made it happen in-game.
Let’s head back to TF29 headquarters for a conspicuous Watch Dogs easter egg. Hell knows what hacker Aiden Pearce was doing in Vince Black’s office, but that’s definitely his outfit hanging there. Is Aiden leading a double life too?
Finally, the “Foxiest of the hounds” achievement is earned for completing the game without triggering any alarms. It’s a reference to FOXHOUND, a black ops unit from Metal Gear games.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Mankind Divided also pays a tribute to its predecessors with a few easter eggs. Back at the antiques shop, toss away all the cardboard boxes from the corner to find a copy of Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011).
Some civilians around Prague are also playing Human Revolution on their devices, just listen in for their cheers and beeping sounds. They don’t even mind you sticking your nose in their screens, now that’s immersion!
The board with major characters and factions at TF29 was a nice touch to give players a glimpse into what encounters may lie ahead. The New Sons of Freedom logo at the top-right corner refers back to a group of separatists in Human Revolution, whose name is based on the real Sons of Liberty from the American Revolution.
In the achievements department, we’ve got “Invisible War” pointing to Deus Ex: Invisible War (2003). Meanwhile, the “Laputan Machine” achievement goes all the way back to Deus Ex (2000), where you blast poor Gunthar Hermann to pieces by saying his killphrase “Laputan machine”. It’s also a reference to the city of Laputa in Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”. The mechanics are sort of mirrored in Mankind Divided too: to earn this achievement, use the killswitch option to deal with Marchenko at your final face-off.
Having caused enough havoc in Golem City, head back to your Prague apartment and pour yourself some cereal. This will trigger a secret cutscene with a reference to Faridah Malik, a Sarif Industries pilot from Human Revolution. Remember? She’d refer to Jensen as “Spy boy”, sho shweet.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
A fine chunk of references in Mankind Divided is dedicated to movies. The city’s billboards are advertising a few fictional films including “Sin Eater”, no doubt inspired by the corrupted and alluring “Sin City”.
Sleeping with one eye open? Worried about your browser history? Dude, Sobchak Security’s got your back. This shop in Prague is an easter egg of the legendary veteran-gone-bowler Walter Sobchak from “The Big Lebowski”. Here are some of his finest moments in the film.
Back in 1988, there was a Tom Hanks movie “Big” which featured the Zoltar Speaks fortune teller machine. Here the equivalent of it is the Voltar 3000 at the magic shop in Prague. If you waste enough coins on cryptic prophecies, Voltar will eventually award you with a black Jack of Hearts. Its actual use or meaning still remains a mystery.
Five more movie references are hidden in Deus Ex’s achievement titles:
THE ODD ONES OUT
Snooping around other apartments is weirdly satisfying, especially if you discover a fellow cat lady next door. Turns out, she’s involved in some grim serial killer business, but that’s for you to investigate. For now, check out the Dancing Cat poster in her bedroom, referring to this crazy Kitty Cat Dance song from 2009.
Now this particular graffiti in Prague got me thinking of Banksy’s style. If he lived in a augmented society under oppression, this sort of representation would be right up his street.
If you look closely at Peter Chang’s or your own desk at TF29 HQ, you’ll notice AMD Radeon R9 glowing with an intense overheating light. Not sure what was implied here, but I suppose Task Force has a clear preference for their hardware.
After your aircraft lands in London, look around the cityscape for a billboard with a beer ad. If you’re used to the Czech variety of Budweiser, you’ll immediately recognise the allusion in the label and its popular marketing slogan “King of Beers”.
Last but not least, stick with the end credits once you beat the game. You’ll be rewarded with a surprise cutscene and “The Supreme Enlightement” achievement. Nuh-uh, I’m not spoiling that one for you.
So that’s a wrap! I hope you’ve enjoyed picking the game apart together. If you’ve find more easter eggs, go ahead and share them in the comments!