Review: Deus Ex: Human Revolution – The Missing Link
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a masterpiece of cyberpunk. It was not perfect, but it was a very good game. The first DLC was recently released. It takes place in a three day span of time that lapsed during the main campaign of the core game. I will not spoil where it takes place, mainly for benefit of those who have yet to play the game. It retains the core concepts from the main game, but the real question is whether the DLC is worth the $15 purchase price.
The Missing Link retains most of the components of the core game. You will still be sneaking around secret bases and exploring a conspiracy. If anything, the core conspiracy concepts in the DLC are actually more relevant to the world of today than the core game is. The Missing Link deals with themes of fear and oppression, and does not really trouble itself with what defines humanity. In its relatively short three to five hour timespan, it actually explores these themes surprisingly well. While the themes are not quite as emotionally driving as the themes in the core game are, the DLC is much shorter. That said, the major moral choice in the game is presented in a pretty outstanding way. While it still is not perfect, it is interesting, and it took me a fair bit of time to decide what to do. The nice thing is that it is still very grey, either way, especially when you consider the short section you play through before you have to make that choice.
The major issue with The Missing Link is that it while it takes place during the course of the main storyline, it feels very shoehorned in. It really does not fit, and as such, really would have been better off as a separate expansion unrelated. The justification for it taking place when it does is very weak, and the fact that you lose all of your powers and then somehow get them back just doesn’t sit well. It just does not seem to flow very well with the game and as such, feels incredibly awkward whenever the characters reference the main plot. It was enough to pull me out of the immersiveness of the game, which is especially disappointing because the core game and its story are so immersive.
The loss of immersion actually comes back in to play with the graphics. Specifically during the cut scenes. The lip synching in Human Revolution was already awkward, but in the DLC it seems more noticeable and pronounced. The characters lips don’t synch, and further the characters did not seem to move correctly. It just added to the awkwardness of the whole setup. During the actual gameplay segments, they were fine, but it was strange to see the game look so wrong.
I understand a lot of the story decisions because they were necessary for the gameplay. It doesn’t fully explain or justify everything, but it does at least make sense where the gameplay is concerned. The game starts you off by placing you in a chair that fries almost all of your upgrades and sets you free from there. You can find a bunch of Praxis Points lying around, but realizing where you are at that point in the core game, it was almost a disappointment to figure out how to reallocate the limited number, after you had spent so much time in the core game leveling them up. That said, the game does play fair and give you several. On top of that, it reminded me how much fun it could be to pick and choose your powers as you attempt to figure out what the best way to tackle each section was.
The level design is generally fantastic, and really allows you to sneak around the ship and the base. The other nice thing is that the level is big enough to explore, but small enough to not become overwhelming. And the rewards for exploration can vary, but I will say that with the right combination of mods and exploration, you can find a literal game changing area that actually made the entire DLC more amazing, I won’t spoil it, but suffice to say Eidos Montreal really, truly understands Deus Ex. As the base is isolated, it was a bit strange to backtrack (something you never really did in sneaking missions in the core game), but it did not feel out of place, or even really take you that far out of the way.
The few characters you meet and interact with are actually pretty cool and the game does a nice job of making most of them more then they initially appear. The main villain is pretty standard, but the other two characters are pretty good. There is no city style section, which is understandable for DLC, but the lack of those sections is still felt as they contained some of the best moments in Human Revolution’s core game. You will still get to use your social mod once or twice, but it does not play anywhere near the role that it did in the core game.
The actual gameplay is still solid and compliments the interesting level design well. The highlight of the gameplay in the DLC is the “boss” battle. Unlike the bosses in the core game, the boss of The Missing Link felt more in tune with the core gameplay. In fact, I was able to sneak up on him and knock him out, which should tell those of you who were frustrated at the bosses in the core game something.
So, the core story of the DLC when isolated from the main story is great, but flounders in the grand context of Human Revolution. If it had been a separate experience, the DLC would have been a lot better off. As it stands, it was still good. The core game was so sure of itself and its concepts, themes and story but these weaknesses makes the DLC’s awkwardness stand out more. Luckily the gameplay and level design really save the DLC from being a disappointment. The actual themes are interesting and the moral choice will challenge your own morals. Overall, the DLC is not perfect, but at its heart, it is still a solid part of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, even if it might have been better off apart from the main story.