It is no secret that I absolutely loved Eidos’ recent entry
to the Deus Ex series. Human Revolution (HR) was, and still is, an engulfing and entertaining experience that weaves an interesting tale in with the concept of moral decisions and choices that shape your development and future (in the game). The original game will undoubtedly be on the list of games being considered for 2011 game of the year. If you have played the original game, then you pretty much know what to expect with the recent DLC installment entitled the Missing Link (TML). While that is ultimately a good thing, it also does serve as a little bit of a let down because the new chapter really plays things too safe to break ground like the main game does.
In the Missing Link, players find their selves back in the role of the stoic Adam Jensen; abducted and stowed away in the bowels of a cargo ship, Adam has been stripped of all of his augmentations and tortured to the brink of death. Walking closely to the edge of life hasn’t tainted Jensen’s personality at all, he is still the blunt and dangerous individual that he has always been. That is a good thing because Jensen’s captors, the elusive military contractor known as Belltower Associates, is an organization built upon those same traits. If he is going to survive this ordeal, he is going to need to be able to stand toe to toe with them.
There is little done to alter the gameplay formula laid out by HR, which can be good or bad depending on your feelings about the game. Players are awarded experience points for a variety of actions just like the main game; finding hidden areas, taking down enemies lethally and humanely, and hacking into a variety of computers and consoles all reward you with points that ultimately earn you Praxis points which you can spend to restore your augmentations. You start TML fresh with no alterations to your character, so don’t expect your progress from HR to have any impact on this adventure. Regardless of the direction that you took your character originally, you have the choice to do things this time around any way you wish.
This is part of the joy that I took from the DLC; while I thoroughly loved the hard hitting, offensive powerhouse that I built during my previous HR run, this time around I was given a chance to customize Jensen in a completely different manner which resulted in a different overall gameplay experience. The solid core remains the same, but you can change things up if you choose.
The world within TML isn’t as visually interesting as the main game; think about it, you are confined to the inside of a cargo ship, and eventually, a hidden military base. This doesn’t give Eidos much room to create an engaging world similar to Detroit or Hengsha, but it has a lot of personality in its own right. Since the surroundings are composed of a variety of enclosed spaces and corridors which are intertwined, you are given a bit of flexibility in how you approach your enemies. The problem is, rather than having a variety of options it is pretty clear that you can either be stealthy or use force, but not much else, including the opportunity to mix the two together. The two paths seem clearly laid out and you will simply be given a choice between path A and path B. Gunshots will echo through the hallways and tunnels which will instantly alert other soldiers to come running so you have to either be ready for an all out gun fight or take your time and take everyone out silently. The confined environments also force the game to use quite a bit of backtracking throughout the adventure. You end up crossing your previous paths repeatedly and things don’t change much between visits.
Eidos has made an ingenious decision in not including any boss fights that are similar to the main game. The boss fights in HR were considered by many to be the weakest aspect of the game and Eidos recognizes this in hindsight. Those battles only offered you one method of taking down your enemy which was simply throwing all of your firepower at them. This removal of the ability to choose your tactics worked against the core formula. You won’t find anything in their vain in TML; instead the boss-like battles that you do engage in encourage you to combine your stelath and gunplay skills to make the best of a bad situation. It is nice to be given a choice in how to approach them this time around and you have to wonder how much better the main game would have been if we had been given the same options previously.
The biggest strength of the new chapter is undoubtedly the strong storytelling aspects of the game. There are a lot of gaps from the main game’s story filled in and experiencing them is a majority of the fun. If you haven’t played HR, a lot of the TML experience will be completely lost on you. It is expected that you know the basic backstory and events that have led you to the cargo ship and lacking that knowledge will only serve to hamper the DLC adventure’s impact on you.
The story can be straight forward if you wish, allowing you to focus solely on the primary missions presented to you. Just like HR though, there are optional side excursions that you can take on to both strengthen and lengthen the main story. Now, don’t get your hopes up as there isn’t nearly the same side- / main- mission ration, but the options are still there.
If you enjoyed playing through HR, TML is a must-have. Fans of the main game will find more of the same in the new chapter. unfortunately, you could also consider this a bit of a detriment to the experience because it is basically more of the same. Fans, such as myself, will consider this a good thing but those looking for an advancement to the HR formula will likely walk away a bit disappointed. Either way, TML is a solid offering that packs quite a bit of content into the package for a decent price.