Games: Tom Clancy's The Division 2 hard-right hokum but crackerjack entertainment

Tom Clancy's The Division 2 – the star of the show is its lovingly recreated setting
Neil McGreevy

Tom Clancy's The Division 2 (Multi)

By: Ubisoft

TO YOUR average bloke, the very words Division 2 conjures up the heady glamour of Grimsby or Macclesfield kicking balls through worn apparatus to the delight of dozens. But with Tom Clancy’s name attached, Ubisoft’s latest is instead a mega-budget cauldron of crackerjack entertainment.

The right-wing and six-feet-under spy scribe continues to cash in on a licensing arrangement with the French publisher, lending his awful politics to hit videogames from beyond the grave.

The latest is a sequel to 2016’s marquee looter-shooter where sleeper agents tromped the mean streets of a virus-ravaged New York, perforating angry mobs and bringing order to a Big Apple gone rotten. Stuffed with action-movie beats and some of the finest online team-building committed to gaming, a sequel was inevitable, the action shifting this time to Washington DC. Dilapidated and overrun with wild animals, your peacekeeping agent attempts to bring order to the capital by wrestling control from three enemy factions.

As with the original, Norman No Mate-types can tackle The Division 2 solo, but it’s much more fun with compadres and the game actively encourages teaming up with fellow grunts over its 35-odd hour campaign. Throughout the main missions, which can be tackled as you please, players work to recruit new agents and push back against the enemy, all the while getting covered in a hot, steady stream of loot.

You’ll unlock skills like drones, turrets and various military gubbins on the way to a level cap of 30 while three Dark Zones offer welcome respite from the teamwork as you test your mettle mano a mano with other players.

Once the credits roll on its main event, players are introduced to a powerful fourth faction, the gadget-heavy Black Tusk, and the game effectively resets as you get to specialise in one of three classes.

The star of the show, however, is its lovingly recreated setting. With bleeding edge visual fireworks, DC provides a wealth of set-piece locations, with firefights in the Senate chamber, Vietnam War Museum and even a planetarium. Go off the beaten track and you’ll discover myriad side quests, including one where you must break into a vault to steal the Declaration of Independence.

Unfortunately, the whole shebang is shot through with a Fox News-esque lens, and while Clancy’s politics have been skilfully handled in games before, The Division 2 borrows current political tropes (all wall-building and swamp-draining) without actually doing anything with it. Its cardboard characters are simply funnelled from one set piece to the next in an empty power fantasy that practically reeks of Budweiser and sweat.

Still, The Division 2’s hard-right hokum offers superb matchmaking, slick progression and a steady stream of loot in a shooter that improves on its predecessor in every respect – even if its weighty political themes are mere window dressing to lining up baddies in your sights.

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