Game Review: The Missing Link (DLC for Deus Ex: Human Revolution)
Genre: Action/Stealth RPG
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
MSRP: 1200 MSP ($15)
ESRB Rating: M
Website: The Missing Link official site
For anyone that played through the story of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, you knew the game had DLC potential. Whether it was branching off of one of the various endings, or expanding on the various side missions, there was enough opportunity to make several quality chapters in addition to what was in the core game. The first of these expansions is called The Missing Link, and focuses on a specific timeframe in the game in which the lead character, Adam Jensen, stows away on a ship late in the original game. What appeared to be a simple voyage in the original game is actually anything but, and you will spend about 5-6 hours exploring exactly what happened during your trip. You will experience two major locales in the game; a ship at sea and a large facility owned by Belltower that houses some sinister activities.
If you’ve played Deus Ex: Human Revolution (or read my review on it), then you know what to expect. There are no new gameplay elements introduced in The Missing Link, so if you enjoyed the core game, then you’ll find more of the same here. You do not bring your character from the main story into this game, so you will start the DLC stripped of all your augmentations (which is explained in the opening sequence, but fails to cover why you still start with the core augmentations). It was actually fun to spend a short time completely unbuffed, and instilled a bit of the old thrill back in the game (there is an achievement for completing the DLC without using any praxis kits, weapons, or explosions, for those looking for a challenge). You will soon come across some of your old gear, which will include several praxis kits to get you up and running, and you will still gain praxis for every 5000 experience gained. I had no problems creating a useful character with what was provided in the DLC, but min/maxxers will have to make a decision as to what to go for; there is not enough praxis points to get everything.
I did find the DLC liberating in one sense: I spent the entire campaign playing as a stealth character, and found that there were times in this DLC that I just needed to gun a few people down. I did have a more difficult time stealthing around in this mission than I did in the campaign, mainly due to the confined corridors and minimal alternate routes. Don’t get me wrong – there’s a way around every bad guy, but sometimes you’ll see the route after the fact, when you’re backtracking through a vent or exploring a room you thought you had cleared. The characters introduced in the game are expendable; none are from the main story, and in the short time you’re interacting with them, you won’t develop an affinity for them one way or the other.
I did enjoy the increased challenge of this DLC (final battle aside), as well as the liberation from my core character’s more stealthy nature. There are ample supplies of everything (including energy boosters), so as long as you’re exploring the world properly, you will be well stocked for each challenge. There are some augments that are acknowledged (Hacking and jump boost), though others are largely ignored (safe falling and social augments); it will be impossible to know what you’ll need ahead of time, so my advice would be to save the points if you can until you come across a situation that needs points in a certain augment. Aside from that, this is more of what you enjoyed in the original game; as I said before, there isn’t anything new (for better or worse).
Unfortunately, there are some elements of The Missing Link that fell short of my expectations. While I understand there would be some difficulty in the logistics of trying to import the character from the main story, I really felt like putting this into its own capsule removed a lot of the connection you have with your character. I certainly did not play through the DLC like I did the main mission at all. Either the story was not very good, or I felt a disconnect from the characters, because I was not moved by anything I experienced in the game. There is a contrived attempt at forcing you to make a tough decision between life and death of some of the characters you meet; the problem is that without the emotional connection to anything in the DLC, it removes the sense of consequence for either choice. This was a core element to what made the main story work, and without that glue, this mission just falls apart. Conversation glitches such as odd animations and screen flickers did not help with the lack of immersion. There is a lot of backtracking done, and some sections of the map include artificial time enhancers like long elevators or full body scanners that take an excessive amount of time. Add into that the bland environment with hallways that look the same, and you will dread having to move through the base to accomplish the various missions. A final gripe: it seems the people who complained about the boss battles in the main story were persuasive enough to make some changes. I decided to engage the final fight guns a-blazing, and took down the last “boss” with a single bullet to the knee-cap. I’m not sure if this was a joke, a fluke, or intentional, but if they were trying to go more Batman: Arkham Asylum with the boss battle (where the battle to the boss is the more difficult part of the battle), it missed the mark.
vttym’s take: The Missing Link seeks to play off the successful formula that worked well in the single player campaign. You get more stealth, more difficult scenarios, and a clean slate to worth with (and a limited amount of Praxis to make it work). Unfortunately, a bland story in a bland building with bland characters turns this mission into a bland experience. Putting this DLC into a bubble outside the standard campaign ends up removing a core element of the game: emotional investment. You no longer particularly care about the consequences of your actions, because you know they will not affect your character outside this DLC. What unfortunately happens is that you also stop caring about anything else going on, and by the end I just wanted to see how they would work the story into the main storyline. Some may appreciate the ability to explore their character without consequences, but I found it detracted from my overall enjoyment.
+ Expands on the core story
+ Much stronger (and more difficult) stealth focus
- Poor character development
- Lack of character investment removes consequences of choices
Final Score: 4/10