Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Missing Link Review
Deus Ex: Human Revolution surprised many of the most hardened, cynical, and skeptical gamers out there. Sure, it didn't deliver the exact same brand of action-RPG that the legendary original game did back in 2000, but it did bring back the stealth-action gameplay with a few new twists and showed us some wonderful art and design while asking interesting questions about the future of human genetic research and technology. For most, Eidos Montreal's prequel still lived up to the name Deus Ex, and now they've released the first DLC expansion called The Missing Link.
First things first: this is a separate adventure that takes place in the middle of Human Revolution's timeline. It could work as a stand-alone adventure, I suppose, and from a gameplay perspective it could work since protagonist, Adam Jensen, has all of his fancy toys including augmentations) stripped away at the start, and he'll have to rebuild them. But from a plot perspective, it wouldn't work, because gamers new to the Deus Ex universe would surely be confused by all the talk of Megan Reed, Belltower Associates, and other characters, organizations, and plot points that Human Revolution had been throwing at us up until that point in the story.
It's also important to point out that while this DLC does take place in the middle of the story, there is no way to smoothly transition from the base game, onto The Missing Link, and then back to the original game with all of the stuff you've been carrying (and augmentations you may have bought) intact. This at least makes sense going into the DLC since Jensen had everything stripped away, but it makes little sense coming out of it.
I should probably get on with the story. The ship that Jensen stows away on in the middle of Human Revolution is owned by Belltower Associates, a private mercenary group with its fingers in a lot of businesses both legal and illegal, ranging from security to investigation and even biomedical research. When Jensen stowed on board this ship in China, he went to sleep in a stasis pod, but he's apparently discovered partway through the journey and wakes up with his gear stripped away and his augmentations disabled. A mysterious friend releases Jensen, and the player gets the chance to explore the ship as well as the offshore platform it's about to dock with, and find out about a new sub-conspiracy about women being kidnapped and imprisoned here.
The storyline does loosely tie into the original game, or at least one particular aspect of the endgame, but overall the story winds up being somewhat forgettable in the full game's timeline. The final boss is a pretty standard cold and calculating villain that even uses a radio to taunt you leading up to the final battle (way too many games do this), and the whole DLC pack ends with a bit of a whimper. In the meantime, you'll have had to do a lot of backtracking, slow biometric scans when transitioning between areas (which, by my count, took much longer than the loading screens would have on PC), and generally play in the same ways that you could in Human Revolution. There aren't any new enemy types to encounter, although there is one new security device to deal with - and it was ridiculously easy to avoid, too.
While the charm of stealthily traversing large maps to take out private military goons, snoop through emails, take down security via hacking, and generally partake all the fun things that Human Revolution's gameplay does right, something's just off with The Missing Link. The level design is generally decent in small doses (even if the wonderful art and design in Human Revolution can't really be reproduced or continued due to the limitations of the setting), but the overall path through the ship and onto and through the offshore platform seems rather hacked together, with a lot of senseless backtracking and repopulation of enemies just to try and keep things interesting. I am happy that Eidos this time allowed players to use stealth to defeat the final boss, but the nuance that went into the attitudes and dialogue of boss characters like Saren or other Black Isle- or BioWare-built antagonists is nowhere to be found here.
I have had a ton of fun with the DLC for Borderlands and the Bethesda-published Fallout games, and I consider the value of these $10 packs to be the current gold standard for video game DLC. It's not just that they don't feel like they were "held back" in the original game to be sold separately (and The Missing Link is not guilty of that either), but it's that ten bucks gets you six to ten hours of fun, and then you can take the things you earned back into the original game. It probably helps that those games have more of an open-world design and Human Revolution does not, but I can't help but be disappointed that The Missing Link does not connect to the original game except with a few "oh, that's mildly interesting"-type plot points. For a DLC pack that only works in a stand-alone fashion and costs a rather hefty $15 for a few hours of adventure, I think Square Enix and Eidos Montreal are pushing it just a tad too far, and they're going to lose at least a few sales as a result. I can recommend that you pick up The Missing Link if you really, really want to spend more time with Adam Jensen, but know that it's not a particularly good DLC add-on - especially for fifteen bucks.