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Page 2 of 2As far as visuals and sound go, everything on hand is top-notch in The Missing Link, easily rivaling the quality found in Human Revolution. The sheer amount of new environmental artwork, ranging from the constant torrential downpour blanketing the ocean, to the innards of the Belltower cargo ship, to the secret laboratories deep underwater, all serves to make The Missing Link fresh and distinctive. Small details, like the photographs in various offices throughout the environments, and supply stashes hidden under stairwells by workers, also give The Missing Link the same lived-in quality Human Revolution displayed throughout. Eidos Montreal's artists and level designers really deserve a lot of credit for crafting such a densely detailed and artistically consistent world, without falling prey to the "copy-paste" design seen in some other games.
Similarly, the new selection of voice actors are all well cast with the roles they play, each giving real life and personality to their respective characters. The rest of the audio work is just as effective as anything in Human Revolution's main campaign, with both a strong sense of ambiance and tense, dynamic music during the appropriate sequences. Unfortunately, Eidos haven't done anything to spruce up the characters' dialogue animations, so people still move like marionettes during conversations. It's a shame, because the rest of the package is excellent otherwise.
So now that the good is out of the way, what sorts of issues does The Missing Link have that might cause a Deus Ex fan to skip it over? Honestly, there aren't that many, which is unexpected for a DLC released so shortly after the game itself. First, there is, overall, a general lack of new weapons, and neither are there any new enemies to fight or items to tinker with - personally, I didn't mind, as I was more concerned with regaining the equipment and augmentations I'd lost, as well as trying to tackle difficult encounters without as many tools at my disposal, but some players might want more than just additional story and more refined gameplay. Second, there isn't much in the way of side-quests, and the main plot thread is decidedly linear, even though the environments themselves aren't; this means certain sections are blocked off from time to time using some occasionally rather artificial means, i.e. impassible doors. Additionally, not all of these side quests are equally well integrated into the story, with one or two of them seeming more like excuses to justify achievements - more real story impact to these would have been appreciated.
Third, there's the issue of length and price. The Missing Link, while not exactly short, can be finished up in about four or five hours. Considering the asking price of $15 USD, this might be a bit short for some players, but in my opinion, the sheer quality of The Missing Link, and the importance it has in relating to the overall Deus Ex universe, help justify the steeper price tag - frankly, it's rare to see DLCs that don't cut corners, and The Missing Link is just about as well-polished, bug-free and genuine an add-on as I've seen in a long time. Still, at $10 USD, The Missing Link would be a no-brainer for just about anyone; at $15 USD, it passes over that thin line and into "for fans only" territory.
Last, unfortunately, The Missing Link does not actually fit seamlessly into the main storyline - rather, it is only accessible as a menu option when playing Human Revolution. That means that your unique version of Jensen won't carry over, nor will any equipment and new augmentations gained while playing The Missing Link end up in the final stages of the main game. To me, this is a fairly big let-down. The Missing Link, if better integrated into the original campaign, would have helped improve the pacing and evolution of gameplay significantly. As it stands, it's positioned more as a "bonus mission" than anything else, and that's a bit of a shame. Having both the option to play directly from the main menu as well as to simply start it up automatically during the storyline would have been the best of both worlds, though I suppose that from a technical standpoint, it's understandable why Eidos Montreal avoided doing so.
So, in short, The Missing Link provides more of the same great gameplay Human Revolution did, and improves on it by offering up some interesting new environments to explore, better-designed levels and gameplay scenarios, and a story which is, frankly, fairly crucial to those who want to better understand the big picture of Deus Ex's universe. At the same time, its fairly linear, mission-style structure, not-so-seamless integration with the story campaign, and what could be seen by some as a lack of sheer value might be enough to keep some players away, but overall, the positives still far outweigh any downsides. The Missing Link certainly lives up to its namesake, and, whether it's more DLC, a full expansion pack, or even a Human Revolution sequel, I'm eager to see what Eidos Montreal have planned for the future of Deus Ex.
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