This week, Eidos released the first downloadable content for their acclaimed role-playing game Deus Ex: Human Revolution, titled The Missing Link. We're all looking forward to some more Deus Ex, but is The Missing Link worthy of the brand? It's time to ask our guts what they think.
Kirk Hamilton, who has written more about Deus Ex than anyone else at Kotaku: So here we are with a big huge flaming "No" at the top of this post and now you're probably wondering why I hate The Missing Link. But I don't hate it! I just don't recommend paying $15 for it.
The Missing Link picks up near the end of Human Rvolution, with protagonist Adam Jensen stowed away in cryo-sleep aboard a transport ship run by Bell Tower security. In the proper game, Jensen goes into the sleep-tank and then wakes up at his destination, slightly disoriented but ready to kick ass. In the Missing Link, he is discovered mid-trip by the crew and goes on an adventure to uncover and stop a nefarious Bell Tower plot.
Missing Link stands as a separate entity from Human Revolution—items gathered in the game don't carry across to your proper save, and all of Adam's augmentations are stripped away at the very start of the mission. Fortunately, the game gives you a handful of Praxis kits at the outset, which allow you to power up and specialize your character somewhat. The points are limited, however, so you won't be able to create a godlike uber-Jensen like you may have had in the game—you'll have to choose between strength, stealth, etc.
It's cool in theory—one of the shortcomings of Human Revolution was that Jensen could become too versatile, and dealing with each branching situation was more a matter of preference than necessity. Not so in The Missing Link. Especially in the first part of the story, you'll only be able to deal with situations in the ways that your augments allow.
Luke Plunkett, Fellow Human Revolution Fan: Missing Link is yet another disjointed, opportunistic piece of singleplayer downloadable content that drops you back in a story you've already finished in a world you've already saved/doomed/whatever. There's just no point to this! Remove the consequences of your actions and the context of your mission and Deus Ex is a very slow and very boring game. Making this a very slow and boring piece of DLC. No.
Okay this sounds pretty good, so why isn't it worth $15? Basically, it's uninspired. The opening hours are all corridor-sneaking aboard a rain-swept ship, with none of the open-room office desk creeping that was so enjoyable in the first game. It feels like an homage to Metal Gear Solid 2, but in setting only. It's flat, the environments are enclosed and constantly reused, and nothing is particularly exciting.
The hallways all look the same, the challenges are the same repetitive mix of computers, laser-grids, patrolling guards and locked doors. The enemies' voiceover performances are flat even by Deus Ex standards. And as a result of the closed nature of the story, there are so many possible solutions offered to every problem that things somehow feel false in a way that they never did in Human Revolution, almost like Jensen has been inserted into a Deus Ex simulator.
Most of the guards are carrying pocket secretaries loaded with codes and passwords—they're much more prevalent than in the main game. Most of the time, I'd go to hack a keypad only to find that I already had the code. Every room has the requisite alternate entrances, every camera can be bypassed in the same multiple ways. There's just nothing new going on—it feels like more of the same assets and systems from the main game.
I haven't finished The Missing Link, so take this for what it is—a gut check, me answering the question "Do I think you should spend your $15 on this?" As much as I loved Human Revolution, I just can't give this first DLC the same recommendation. As a part of an eventual GOTY collection, sure. If it goes on sale for $5? Sure. But there are better things you could spend your $15 on, especially this time of year.
Given the rumors that at least two entire hub-worlds (Montreal and somewhere in India) were withheld from Human Revolution (Luke tells me that actually, those two hubs never made it past the drawing board, but that Upper Hengsha was finished but regardless), I'm optimistic that we'll be seeing more substantive Deus Ex DLC soon. I'd say save your money and wait for that.