Human Revolution: Missing Link Review
A bite sized sample of Human Revolution, emphasizing some strengths and a few more weaknesses
The Missing Link is the first DLC for Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It bridges the three day gap during the main story after Adam Jensen entered a stasis pod. He wakes to find himself strapped to a chair with all his gear removed. Unknown interrogators try to beat information out of him, like why he has swords coming out of his arms. Jensen remains steadfast and even manages to crack a joke. After his torturers leave, a mysterious third party sets him free.
Missing Link begins with an ill-equipped Jensen stuck aboard a container ship that is heading toward a secret Belltower base. Belltower are private military contractors with soldiers sporting high end augmentations. The cargo ship Jensen stumbled on is not the one heading for the scientists he was tracking. Jensen begins with no augmentations, no weapons and no upgrade points. He must gather an arsenal, upgrade his skills and find a way out. Thankfully there are a few characters willing to help. The opening segments, aboard the cargo ship, don’t fit well with the Deus Ex 3 gameplay.
The parts aboard the freighter are rather claustrophobic and generally unfriendly toward dynamic gameplay. You move along tight corridors and shimmy through vents to reach locked rooms. Nice visual touches, such as rain on the deck and mist in the bulkheads, ensure the experience looks good throughout. The DLC tries to give you options, say by placing a vent behind a box just before patrolling guards. However it often seems like you are getting answers before the questions have even been asked. With well over 20 unique duct systems, it’s good to see the AI actually check the vents. After you finish crawling your way through the belly of the freighter you step foot on an ocean base.
The secret Belltower base is where the levels open up and you get a taste of more standard Human Revolution gameplay. Levels are large, often multi-tiered, with patrolling guards, snipers, laser fields and sentry turrets. With limited weapons and augmentations the road ahead is tough but satisfying. The patrols are challenging to dismantle, making stealth rather difficult. Moving between briefly parting vision cones allows few mistakes. Sometimes it’s just easier to hide behind a wall and shotgun guards as they run into your crosshair. The DLC is harder than the parent game on Normal due to erratic patrols and visual peculiarities.
One tiered level has patrolling guards and bots guarding some prisoners. Every time a specific guard was silently knocked out the alarm triggered. Apparently another guard in the area can see through solid objects. Removing him first prevented further detection as their numbers dwindled. The x-ray augmentation became essential to avoid being seen from all directions. Although the second half of the game is better there are some other issues.
During the last few hours of the game Jensen moves between a detention centre, offices and a lab. This equates to a bit of dreary backtracking through attractive locations. You pass through several bio scanners which freeze Jensen in place. The game halts your progress for a good 20 seconds before it allows you to move to the next section. These seem to be in-game loading points, similar to Mass Effect elevators. They get old quickly due to their lack of interaction and repetition. At least a loading screen doesn’t pretend to be anything more.
One of the best improvements in the DLC is actually the final battle. This time there is no super-soldier who appears in a constricted room and battles you to the death. In fact the boss battle doesn’t really feel like an arcade showdown at all. The final foe you take down is part of the story arc. This character even talks to you much like Walton Simons in the original. Most importantly you can silently approach this boss, although avoiding the patrolling guards is still tricky.
The Missing Link DLC is a sample package of Human Revolution although it isn’t as good. It serves to highlight some strengths and flaws that featured in the game back in August. It doesn’t feel stolen from the main game nor does it feel foreign to it. You will get plenty out of it despite the lack of neutral hubs to explore. It even has a few nice references to the original Deus Ex which will please fans of the series. At around 5 hours, depending on exploration and patience, this package is worth picking up.
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