Deus Ex: Human Revolution ‘The Missing Link’ DLC Review
WARNING: Unavoidable Deus Ex: Human Revolution spoilers within.
Almost immediately after the launch of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Eidos Montreal made an interesting design choice — they started making us think about what we’d missed.
You see, during the plot of DXHR, there’s a point during which protagonist Adam Jensen climbs into a stasis pod intent on mailing himself to an enemy hideout. As you’re playing the game, this isn’t a big deal, but when Jensen climbs out of the pod on the other side, his tech-savvy handler, Pritchard, concernedly mentions that Jensen has been out of contact for three days.
Post-launch, after some time had passed, the beginnings of a highly involved viral marketing campaign began, which slowly started to reveal information about those missing three days. Jensen wasn’t just in stasis for that time — he was active. Info spilling onto the Internet implied an island location where the events had taken place, that they closely involved private military contractor Belltower Security, and that there was even more conspiracy at work during Jensen’s lost time.
In short — a lot of intriguing questions asked about DXHR.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution “The Missing Link”
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Reviewed on PC
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Released: Oct. 18, 2011
MSRP: $14.99 / 1,200 MS Points
To answer those questions is The Missing Link, a downloadable content pack that fills in Jensen’s missing three days. Eidos has also billed the DLC another way, touting the fact that during it, Jensen gets a chance to reset all his mechanical augmentations, allowing players to re-spec their characters and experiment with a new kind of Jensen during the experience.
Obviously, Eidos has known all along that The Missing Link was on its way, and it’s probably good that it didn’t include the DLC in the main game. DXHR: TML stands apart as an episode unto itself, more or less separate from the overall DXHR story in many ways. You can’t even access it from the main game — you load and play The Missing Link on its own. It’s a smaller piece of the puzzle, but it really is its own nice, neatly carved, self-contained piece.
Here’s the down and dirty, though: The Missing Link is more DXHR content, and by that I mean it is more largely generic DXHR content. The DLC pack can go on for quite a while if you take your time and explore it thoroughly; I pushed it up over seven hours. So if you like what you’ve got in DXHR, this is around an average of five more hours of that game, or roughly $3 an hour for more DXHR — a pretty damn good deal. If you’re not as warm and fuzzy about DXHR the whole, though, it might be possible to find The Missing Link tedious, or at least, unremarkable.
Story might be where The Missing Link is at its weakest, because it mostly feels like a diversion from the main investigation with little drive to really push the player through it. There are some big stakes and some interesting reveals, but ultimately, the lack of major drive and focus behind Jensen — something the main game is never without — makes it feel like The Missing Link is a detour and Jensen is investigating it because he’s forced to. The mission could have benefited from some stronger characters earlier, or made its admittedly kind-of-horrifying underlying premise a bigger deal. Unlike the “must find evil people attacking us” drive of the main campaign, The Missing Link gains no such “have to stop them” vibe, even toward its end.
Jensen doesn’t just wake up in his stasis pod, he’s discovered by the troops on the Belltower Security ship on which he’s stowed away. That leads to Jensen’s capture and interrogation; the Belltower goons in charge strap him to a giant EMP chair that scraps most of his augments, and when he’s eventually released by a secretive, unknown hacker. Thus begins Jensen’s attempt to figure out where he is and where he’s going, and get back on track to investigating the attack on Sarif Industries around which the main game is centered.
While trailers and marketing have played up the extent to which Jensen is lost, alone and unarmed in The Missing Link, in practice it really isn’t that big of a deal. Stealth players will find these opening moments more or less the same as the rest of the game — you stay hidden, you survive. That you’re robbed of the full-frontal option really won’t change the way the game plays for many players, so while sneaking around on the ship is harrowing, it’s not because you constantly feel under threat. Or rather, you feel under the same threat you always have.
Eventually, Jensen gets a mess of Praxis kits and his gear back, and suddenly it’s off to the races. There are a number of things that have to be accomplished on the ship, and, as always, a number of paths to achieve them. I never discovered the trolly thing in this video, for example, and even though I gave The Missing Link a pretty thorough going over, I’m sure there’s more that I missed, squirreled away. For a DLC pack, the nature of DXHR makes this one feel huge, and it certainly feels like one gets their money’s worth.
A few adjustments have been made to the game engine, but overall I’m not sure it’s too much improved. The ship is sailing through a storm, and Jensen will wander the deck of the ship in the rain — a big deal given that DXHR takes place during some of the clearest, most pleasant Detroit weather ever recorded. But where rain and atmosphere are gained, there’s a general twitchiness in cutscenes and interactions with characters, and it seems like the camera isn’t quite sure how to handle it. There’s also some weird clipping in character models we didn’t see in the main game, which gives The Missing Link a bit of a rushed, slightly unpolished look.
That’s a quibbling argument, however, and I found The Missing Link to be a pretty good time. The story leaves a few clues for more possible installments of DXHR, although it didn’t expand “the conspiracy” as much or as meaningfully as some players might like. With the exception of some of the ship environments, you’ll spend most of your time doing what DXHR is loaded down with — sneaking around office buildings and large warehouses, creeping up on guys and taking them out. It’s not precisely groundbreaking in terms of the DXHR, so don’t expect something new or daring from this DLC. It’s more like an expansion of the same content — and if you had a really great time with DXHR, like I did, that’s in no way a bad thing.
There is one thing that The Missing Link does right, in a sense, and that’s to build a boss encounter using its strengths, rather than set up a one-on-one patterned fight to the death. Toward the end of The Missing Link, Jensen sneaks all the way back through the base he’s been trapped in to deal with its commander, and this is basically one massive boss-level stealth mission. Enemies are actively hunting Jensen while he hunts the commander, and it makes for some solid tension. The whole thing culminates in an objective in which you’re in a room filled with this guy and his guards, and you have to take them all out — in whatever style you choose.
For all the gameplay found within, plus a great chance to re-enter the world of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, $15 is well worth it for The Missing Link. The levels Eidos has created for the DLC feel like they could have been popped straight out of the main game, so fans of DXHR will be right at home and gain the most from this pack. But this is an expansion of that game in the purest form of the word: it’s exactly like the rest of DXHR. Players lukewarm on the idea of more sneaking and more hacking computers and reading emails will be lukewarm on The Missing Link, too.
- More of Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s quality gameplay
- Expands the story to (kind of) tie off a loose end
- Some tense moments and a re-imagined boss-type encounter that should satisfy those critical of DXHR’s boss fights
- Possible sequel room
- Can be really lengthy, which makes the price well worth it
- Doesn’t offer too much that’s new in terms of experience. This is more DXHR.
- Engine seems to suffer with characters; lips lose sync, some clipping issues.
- Story doesn’t reveal as much as we’d hoped. Feels like a detour.
Final Score: 75/100
Follow Hornshaw on Twitter: @philhornshaw.