A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tom Clancy's The Division is an action-heavy, third-person massively multiplayer shooter game set in the aftermath of a bio-terror attack in New York City. The game offers players opportunities to help out law enforcement, military troops, medical personnel, and more in their efforts to take back the city from opposing forces. Due to the nature of the game and its story, the violence can be intense, particularly for younger kids. Aside from the violence present in the gameplay (shooting other humans, for example), there are also dark elements that include things such as areas littered with corpses in body bags and people dying in the street from the virus. Language is another issue, as the game features regular use of profanity in dialogue, and the multiplayer aspect of the game opens players up to potentially offensive language. This is also the latest installment in the Tom Clancy franchise, which covers books, games, movies, and more.
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What's it about?
A devastated metropolis under quarantine. A plague decimating the people inside. Gang warfare and mob mentality running the streets. It's a scene you'd normally expect from a postapocalyptic sci-fi flick set in some far-off distant future. Instead, TOM CLANCY'S THE DIVISION drops players into this scenario right now. Through a coordinated plan involving contaminated money and Black Friday, a mysterious group has caused a pandemic, infecting New York with a virulent strain of the smallpox virus. Within days of the outbreak, basic services have failed, leading to the near collapse of the government and anarchy in the streets. The President enacts Directive 51, activating agents of the Strategic Homeland Division, or "The Division" for short. These specially trained sleeper agents are called on as a last resort and are given executive authority to preserve society and restore the government through any means necessary. Today, you have been activated. Your mission? To reclaim New York City from the grips of chaos, to rebuild order from discord, and to restore the faith of the people in their darkest hour. When all else fails, you don't.
Is it any good?
One of the most difficult things to accomplish in a video game is to achieve a suspension of disbelief, which makes players feel like they're part of a real story, not just an omniscient bystander watching events unfold around them or some mindless drone moving from mundane task to mundane task. Tom Clancy's The Division impressively pulls this off by crafting a scenario that's believable and compelling, then drops players right into the thick of it. The story isn't just told to players; it unfolds around them through overheard conversations between desperate survivors on the street or recovered voicemail messages explaining the fear and panic of the first days of the outbreak. It all comes together in such a way that you can't help but feel like you're genuinely invested in the events taking place. The gameplay also contributes to an immersive experience; at its core, The Division is a shooter, with some RPG elements tossed in for good measure, and it's those RPG elements that really make the game shine. Players can customize their characters in endless ways without getting locked down to a single role. By allowing players to customize weapons and abilities on the fly, the game encourages them to try out new combinations and ultimately find the ones best suited to their style of play. Controls are surprisingly responsive, especially for a cover-based shooter. It's a cinch to dive into and out of cover, getting the best angles to take out the opposition. This style of play works even better when you're part of a team, and The Division makes it easy to pull together a few friends or even match up with total strangers to take back New York.
Better yet, players can take the fight to the "Dark Zone", a section of New York that's been designated a no-man's land. Here, agents can work together or against each other to scavenge valuable items in this highly contaminated area and extract them via airlift for use. The Dark Zone is a high-stakes, high-anxiety multiplayer experience where you never know if the person standing next to you has your back … or is just waiting to stab you in it. Despite never feeling like a typical MMO game, The Division does require a persistent online connection to the servers to play. Unfortunately, this means if the servers are down for maintenance or overloaded with players, there's no recourse … even if you just want to dive in for some solo play. Also, due to the nature of the game's shooter roots, some of the genre's usual repetition is hard not to notice. When you've seen one crazed baseball-bat-wielding thug in a hoodie or a gas-mask-wearing pyromaniac with a flamethrower, you've literally seen them all. Even so, it's easy to look past these minor hiccups and see how well-crafted the overall experience is. The Division is a superb start to a new franchise and an experience that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the violence in this game potentially more dangerous because the gameplay seems so realistic? Should players not be concerned because the scenario seems a bit more far-fetched?
Talk about emergency preparedness. What plans should families have in place in the event of major emergencies? Does your family have emergency supplies, lines of communication, and evacuation routes handy?
Discuss how disasters affect society. What is it about disasters that tend to bring out both the best and the worst in people -- things like relief efforts as well as looting? How should people react when faced with an emergency?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: UbiSoft
- Release date: March 8, 2016
- Genre: Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG)
- Topics: Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Intense Violence, Strong Language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.