During the course of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, there is a break in the narrative that is never fully explained. While it isn't integral to the experience, most players finished the main game wondering why that period wasn't explored in detail. The Missing Link fills that narrative gap with a fully fleshed-out, five-hour-plus quest that is sure to please Human Revolution fans.
Although The Missing Link occurs within the main plotline of Human Revolution, the DLC does not integrate into the story. Instead, it is made available as an entirely separate experience, accessed from the main menu of the game. This means you do not have to complete Human Revolution to play the DLC; however, it is recommended. Because of where it occurs in the timeline, The Missing Link contains explicit story spoilers. It is most certainly meant to be experienced after you've seen everything that Human Revolution has to offer.
The Missing Link picks up right after Adam Jensen (that's you) has stowed away on a Belltower cargo ship leaving Hengsha. You're discovered, beaten to a bloody pulp and an EMP chair disables all of your augmentations. You wake to the middle of an interrogation, which is where the DLC begins. Shortly thereafter, a mysterious hacker remotely unlocks your restraints, allowing you to escape.
Roughly the first hour to hour-and-a-half of play is spent on the cargo ship. The first order of business is to rearm yourself with weapons and re-enable your augmentations with the Praxis kits. One nifty aspect of the story is the simplicity of starting fresh. Because all your previous augmentations were disabled, you're free to try any character build you wish.
Just like Human Revolution, The Missing Link allows for a number of play styles from stealth to aggressive, yet its relatively short length (compared to the main game) encourages experimentation. If you played a stealth build before, try a weapons expert this time. Mastered the brute force approach? Buff out your hacking skills instead. Since you get a large chunk of points all at once, any core skill can be immediately maxed out.
Plot-wise, The Missing Link weaves a good tale, mixing in enough new information to make everything feel fresh while at the same time maintaining continuity. Core story elements are revealed across the primary missions, with background material and supporting details being revealed via secondary sources such as e-mails, digital newspapers and e-books. You don't need to explore any of these, but it's there for the completionists among us.
After completing the first quarter of The Missing Link, the adventure moves from the cargo ship to a Belltower base. The ship map is plenty large, though the Belltower base is even larger. It's easily on par with the FEMA base that you explore in the early part of Human Revolution. Any fears of feeling constrained evaporate as soon as you set foot on solid ground and get a look at the map. This place is big.
Despite its large size, the Belltower base is packed with detail. It feels well thought out as well as providing an air of being "lived in." This is not a sterile base, but rather one that sees a lot of use. It's also one that hides a very dirty secret. Human Revolution wasn't afraid to pose some tough questions to the player, and The Missing Link is likewise more than willing to challenge your resolve. As you dig through the details, it's hard to say what is more disturbing — the evidence of what has been done or the cavalier attitude that the antagonist displays toward it all. Either way, the writing is quite effective at provoking an emotional reaction, and that's a credit to its quality.
Visually, The Missing Link offers a slight fidelity upgrade during gameplay, though any benefit during the cinema scenes is debatable. Characters in cinema scenes seem to have more detail, though the increased lighting and stiff animation tend to make them appear somewhat unnatural. It's nothing new, really — Human Revolution has similar issues — it's just something that we wish could have gotten a few more tweaks.
In terms of challenge, The Missing Link is no pushover. Whether it's actually more difficult than Human Revolution or simply feels that way because we've been playing a lot of shooters in the interim, it's safe to say that The Missing Link forces you to be deliberate about your actions. No matter if you favor stealth or gunplay, you can't just rush into a situation and expect to survive. Situational awareness isn't just a suggestion here. It's an absolute necessity.
Priced at 1,200 MSP (or $15 USD), The Missing Link falls on the expensive side of the DLC fence, but at the same time, it offers up a lot more gameplay than the majority of DLC packages. In fact, it even competes favorably with some full games. Expect your first playthrough to take roughly five hours; add a bit of time to that if you also do the optional side missions. There is also additional replay value buried in the achievements; one challenge entails completing the DLC with no weapons and no augmentations.
Polished enough to be released as a stand-alone package, The Missing Link hits all the right notes and delivers more of everything that made Human Revolution such a standout title.
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