Deus Ex: Human Revolution - The Missing Link Review

14 Oct 2011

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Square Enix
Developer:Eidos Montreal
Release Date:2011-10-18
Genre:
  • Role-Playing,Action
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person,First-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Scarcely two months after its initial release, the first substantial piece of downloadable content for Deus Ex: Human Revolution is now available for download (or will be very soon). The Missing Link, as it's called, isn't so much a side story as it is a piece of fiction which, when put in the context of Human Revolution's overall storyline, ends up being close to indispensible. It's got new and interesting characters, it's got better level design than anything in the main campaign, and it's even got more of that philosophizing and conspiracy-laden shadow-talk that so many people love about Deus Ex. At the same time, while the quality of the gameplay in The Missing Link is as good as Human Revolution's best, it's also not particularly lengthy, and there aren't any new augmentations, weapons, upgrades, enemies, or other toys to play with. Players who want to get deeper into the lore and gain a better understanding of how Human Revolution fits into the overall series continuity will love what The Missing Link offers, but, in light of its $15 USD price tag, those concerned with more material additions may find it to be lacking.

The Missing Link begins aboard the Belltower cargo ship that Adam Jensen boards during the main storyline of Human Revolution. In the "original" storyline, Adam's journey within one of the ship's stasis pods was depicted as unremarkable, but The Missing Link retcons that detail into an entire plot thread of its own. Turns out, Adam Jensen is quickly discovered while stowing away, shackled to an EMP-laden chair, and violently interrogated by the delightfully unlikeable Commander Burke. Due to a power fluctuation, Adam is soon able to break out of his bonds, but an initial attempt to escape the cargo ship is complicated by new orders presented to him by a mysterious hacker. One thing leads to another, and soon Adam finds himself infiltrating an offshore facility which is far more than the innocuous fueling station it appears to be.

To get too much into detail would spoil much of the fun in The Missing Link, but suffice is to say that throughout the story, Adam will have to make a tough choice, will meet some interesting new allies, and will come across far more callbacks and references to the original Deus Ex than he ever did in Human Revolution's original campaign. I'd honestly go so far as to say that even the writing is a lot more self-assured and interesting this time around, as well - that might be partially due to the more self-contained plot arc, but I think it also reflects that Eidos Montreal know exactly what they're aiming for this time around, and the result is a story which fits in well both with Human Revolution and the original Deus Ex.

This is, for fans of Deus Ex, The Missing Link's strongest element. If you felt that Human Revolution was lacking in top-secret laboratories and high-tech military compounds to explore, you'll feel right at home in The Missing Link, which features a set of sufficiently "Deus Exy" environments, everything from the initial cargo ship, to a large warehouse area, to the bowels of a sufficiently sinister lab. Many of these areas recall, at least in spirit, some of Deus Ex's most memorable locations, and I had a lot of fun playing through them. Even so, The Missing Link also manages to be interesting in its own right, without becoming overly derivative or forgetting Human Revolution's own art style, atmosphere, character interaction and its other strong points.

On top of that, the level design in The Missing Link far outclasses that of Human Revolution's. While there aren't any absolutely massive and open environments to explore, and the initial section aboard the cargo ship is a bit on the linear side, the offshore platform is thoroughly entertaining to explore, featuring multiple levels, a good balance between large open spaces, corridors, and offices to sort through. Considering that you'll find yourself poorly-armed and scrounging both for new Praxis Kits to regain your augmentations, as well as ammo and weapons to fight the heavy odds, exploration also feels much more crucial, and I never found myself with "too many" supplies or a lack of opportunities to use them.

The tactical choices the levels provide are also a bit more nuanced than anything in Human Revolution's original campaign, with the obvious "stealth path, combat path, social path" setup many levels revolved around being all but gone. Instead, environments feel less "gamey", with the gameplay agnostic to various approaches, while still permitting all of them. Consequently, the choices you make in progressing are more significant. Unlike Human Revolution, I was far more tempted to vary my play-style with the different opportunities available, rather than simply adhering to the framework the designers had laid down for me. In short, it's much more confident and in line with the strengths of the original Deus Ex, trusting the player to make the calls rather than dictating them from a design document.