Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Action / Role-Playing Game
Reviewer: George Damidas
Overall: 8 = Excellent
Adam Jensen’s adventure wrapped a few months back for many gamers, but a few loose ends remained after his globe-spanning journey. Deus Ex: Human Revolution‘s first downloadable content pack, The Missing Link, sheds some light on one of the game’s more mysterious events: a three-day gap when Jensen was out of pocket and off the radar. Waking up on the cargo ship en route to Singapore, Jensen finds himself battered, stripped of his gear, and strapped to an augment-nullifying chair. After a few more meetings with his captors’ fists, he’s sprung by an unknown ally and goes looking for some answers.
Seeing as how The Missing Link is set well into Human Revolution‘s storyline, it is best undertaken by those who have completed the original game. While the side quest is relatively spoiler free in terms of the events in Human Revolution, there are many references to prior happenings that will be lost on those who opt to jump in before seeing Jensen’s main quest through. And while this review will be free of major spoilers, I will assume that you have some familiarity with the storyline, so if you haven’t completed the original game yet or are looking at picking both up at the same time, skip on ahead to ‘Overall’ to avoid any inadvertent spoilers.
Shortly after being cut loose, you will come across some gear and a pile of Praxis kits. This affords you the chance to respec Jensen, as all of the augments from the main game were removed during his interrogation. The kits help to bring him up to par, and allow you to try out a few abilities that might’ve been previously overlooked, but this fresh start also comes at the cost of being relatively weak. As such, even the dim-witted AI will provide a greater challenge than before, as it only takes a few shots to drop the recovering Jensen. There aren’t any new augments to experiment with, but I found that taking a different upgrade path than before made for a significantly different experience. While I was a gun-toting maniac in the original story, here, in the confines of a cargo ship and an installation, I opted to go for a more explorative build from the outset—high jump, Icarus upgrade, strength to break through walls, etc.
It’s actually surprising just how much ground can be covered throughout the ship and the one other location, the Rifleman Bank Station. Thanks to some cleverly designed sections, there are ample opportunities to take advantage of many of the various augments. If a vent is inaccessible, then there’s a good chance that a weakened wall can be punched through, a security terminal can be hacked to lower a laser field, or cover can be used to take out the patrolling guards. Nearly each area offers a variety of rewards in terms of ammo, hacking software, weapon mods, and emails that add to the backstory. A few shortcuts also allow those with the right combination of augments to bypass some lengthy stretches of difficult encounters. I would venture to say there are more alternative routes per square foot here than in the original game. But even those who opt to be more direct in their approach and just blast their way through should be prepared for plenty of backtracking. Having to run between areas wouldn’t be too bad considering the limited location set, but there are a handful of scanning sequences that can really bog things down. There will be moments, especially if the few sidequests are tackled, when you have to go through the scanning sequence several times in one trip. So while there is some surprising route variety, the overarching design means that these will be well worn by the end.
In a sense, The Missing Link ends up being an excellent summation of the pros and cons of Human Revolution. There are some guards who are absolutely stumped by closed doors, while others will aggressively advance and attempt to outflank your position. The side quests might not be compelling on their own, but they have an unforeseen impact on the main quest that makes their completion worthwhile. There are characters who are oblivious to how specious their arguments are while refusing to shut up, while Jensen himself offers few biting retorts and continues to have the personality of a wet towel. But if you’ve made it through Human Revolution and found yourself wanting more, then these issues and the weird jerky models during cutscenes will be of small concern, because getting back into Jensen’s shoes offers the chance to snoop, hack, snipe, and crack skulls in one of the best third-person combat systems to date. It might not be essential to the Deus Ex mythos—at least, at the moment—but it does feel good to get back to business.
For those who have yet to complete or pick up Human Revolution, I would advise completing it first as The Missing Link is more of the same—excellent combat, irrational AI and all. Fans will enjoy getting a chance to check out a few overlooked augments while digging into more of the backstory. The revelations are few, so story hounds can hold off on this, but those wanting to enjoy more of the stealth and action aspects will find a lot to like. Despite some fluff amongst the backtracking, some clever level design keeps the limited areas fresh and exploration rewarding. The Missing Link might not be essential, but it does offer a few solid hours of Deus Ex goodness.
(This review is based on a retail copy provided by the publisher.)