Developer: Eidos Montreal / Publisher: Square Enix / Price: $14.99 / Played on: PC / ESRB: Mature [Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol]
When I first heard of Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s DLC, my brow furrowed in confusion. The original game had so many elements that worked together in perfect harmony, so there was little possibility that the complete experience would survive when crammed into a DLC-sized package. That turns out to be the case — The Missing Link offers an incomplete slice of the DX:HR package, but Deus Ex in part is still better than most other games in whole, so it’s worth a play for anyone that enjoyed the original game and is itching for more.
The Missing Link takes place during the plot line of Human Revolution while Adam Jensen stows away aboard a cargo transport ship. Rather than sheepishly wake up at his destination days later as it appears in the original game, we find out that Jensen was actually discovered in transit. After goons beat him senseless, he’s strapped to an EMP-generating chair that wipes out all of his augments. Shortly, a mysterious benefactor disables the EMP field and releases Jensen. Stripped of weapons and augments, Jensen must now explore and escape from the ship.
Of course, given that Adam doesn’t comment on the events that occurred in that span in the full game, there are two logical options: either they’re ultimately inconsequential, or his memory of those events is conveniently wiped.
I’m somewhat happy to report that the former is the case here, because I despise absurd story tropes like amnesia. Unfortunately, that also means that the events of the DLC don’t hold much punch when it comes to the larger plot of Human Revolution. There are some weighty choices to make and characters that live or die based on how you play, but the truth of it is that the whole affair can be forgotten as soon as it’s over. There are some story hooks in the DLC that hint at a plot even greater in scope than Human Revolution’s, but the most satisfying parts of The Missing Link’s story are in what it implies about the future of the franchise rather than what you’ll actually play. Don’t let that imply that the story is completely without merit, though. There are some subtle story hooks and comments in e-mails that will further flesh out the world of Deus Ex if you bought into that setting with Human Revolution.
Human Revolution alternated between two distinct gameplay styles. You had large, open cities that you could explore and in which you could take on sub-quests, and then there was the more directed, combat-heavy sections that usually ended in a boss fight. The Missing Link is 99% a directed, combat-heavy affair. That’s kind of a bummer, given the open areas were my favorite part of Human Revolution, but I can understand how an experience like that just doesn’t fit the scope of DLC. However, if exploring Detroit and China was the high point of your Human Revolution experience, just bear in mind you won’t have that here.
That said, Human Revolution’s stellar level design is in top form in The Missing Link. While some skills are largely useless during the span of the DLC (social augments and the Icarus landing system to name a few), you’ll always have the freedom to engage enemies and navigate areas how you want. The only problem is… there’s not a whole lot of area to move through. The last 2/3rds of the DLC have you criss-crossing the same military base, which is occasionally repopulated with enemies. The base is designed very well, but more than once I pulled up my map and saw the objective all the way across the level yet again and huffed at the pending retread.
The boss fight that ends the DLC is worth noting though. Unlike Human Revolution, you won’t fight a super-powered bullet sponge. Though flanked by several powerful enemies, the final boss of the DLC is just as brittle as Jensen, meaning that you can actually engage him intelligently and defeat him with stealth and cunning as well as with bullet-to-the-face methods.
A bite of fillet mingon is still better than a whole McDonald’s burger. While The Missing Link doesn’t deliver the robust experience of Human Revolution, it’s the only way to experience more Deus Ex. That alone is worth the price of admission… just adjust your expectations accordingly.