The late summer blockbuster: Deus Ex Human Revolution had us all mesmerized by its level design and it's fresh answer to the RPG equation. The steamy main protagonist Adam Jensen acted as a living Swiss Army Knife, tackling almost any obstacle with ease using an eclectic mix of game mechanics to infiltrate an endlessly fascinating alternate reality to our own.
Last month, Square-Enix released some eagerly awaited DLC that fills in the gap between the fourth act Shanghai mission with the final showdown deep within the Artic. We last left Jensen on a ship bound for seemingly uncharted waters in his single-minded quest to find his ex girlfriend, Dr. Megan Reed.
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Shortly after stowing away, Jensen is found out by the ship's crew and pulled into an interrogation room where he is beaten and stripped of his augmentations and gear. A woman who appears to be head of security interrogates him. She grills him about his presence and the identity of his employers. She continues to beat him senselessly in response to his inevitable non-disclosure and effectively knocks him unconscious.
You regain control of Jensen as he comes to in the ship holding cell. His equipment is gone and is augments are now set to "Factory Zero". He is all but helpless. However, Someone has taken the liberty of unlocking his restraints and his cell door, which leads to an air duct, and well, you can see where this is going...
You begin with no weapons and no augments but you are immediately contacted via info link by a mysterious third party who seems very interested in helping you finding your equipment, setting the stage for The Missing Link.
It's been a few weeks since I played Deus Ex and even longer since starting a new game so I needed some time to become reacquainted with its controls and with Jensen at his settings most basic. Everything feels familiar and it is easy to fall right back into your old routine of scouring rooms for new routes and looting desks for items and PCs for info.
Advancing, however can be tricky because Praxis Points are limited and you may still be operating with your old build of Jensen in mind. If your previous plan had been all about advanced hacking you may not have the required points available to unlock the more essential skills. You will have to find a new way of approaching things. And this is exactly what The Missing Link wants you to do.: To get out of your comfort zone and to take a second glance at what you may have missed before.
This time around I found myself indulging in the variety of weaponry and brute force rather than anesthetization and stealth. Once you find your equipment you have access to some basic guns and will be able to find almost all of the original classes of firearms, grenades, and consumables as your explore the ship. Trying things out from a new perspective was fun and so was trying out some of the augments I had previously passed up.
I will say that playing through aggressively this time around has proven that while Deus Ex can be played as a shooter, it was really designed with stealth in mind. With no quick turn and enemies that gank you in corners it is much less frustrating sneaking into an area and knocking out guards rather than battling fruitlessly with the stiff and disorientating camera and obtuse shooting mechanics. That being said, cooking a whole group of soldiers with a single shot from a rocket launcher can provide a special feeling all its own and is morbidly satisfying in a way hacking will never be.
Outside of combat, the missions serve up the plot in bite-sized morsels that keep you absorbed and hungry for more. They still utilize an on HUD "X' to guide the way and while you need only to navigate towards that location, you might find yourself stopping to look around this time because there is a noticeable graphical improvement.
This time I had to stop and admire everything. The smoke, the lighting, the icy residue leaking from a pipe; even the walls have lost the terrible pixilated texture that plagued the core game and have been branded with a brilliant reflective sheen. I used to avoid the world around me but now the visuals are actually working with the sound design allowing Deus Ex to truly immerse you from all angles.
While the environments may be buffed, the character models still manage to creep you out with jangly and robotic facial animations. You can see an effort made with textures but that mechanical puppetry feel remains with an added dynamic that has the NPCs giving Jensen a intense looking "Wild Eye" while speaking, making even the most innocuous and friendly of characters seem drunk and comically dangerous.
The NPC muppet parade aside, The Missing Link is a must play for fans of the core game. This added narrative fits comfortably within the continuity and even ties in some of the back characters from HUB worlds visited earlier in the game. These mentions are thoughtful and further validates the urgency of Jensen's mission and any effort you placed into finishing those optional side quests.
You have here some great dlc that provides a additional helping of more of what we loved from the original while adding a pleasing graphical flourish and new insights into its complex narrative. It is a great way to spend a weekend and a welcome excuse to be pulled back into the mad world of Deus Ex all over again.