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Hands On: DXHR: The Missing Link

What happens below decks

Deus Ex: Human Revolutions's first piece of expansion DLC turns up on the 18th, for the price of $14.99 USD, €10.99, or £8.99. I've been having a bit of a play, and I'll be able to tell you a bit more - while attempting to dodge spoilers (there are few quite stealthy ones, but nothing fatal) - below.

The Missing Link is a conveniently pre-packaged idea for an expansion. Not tacked on the end, or a prequel, or even, really, some kind of irrelevant side-quest. Although it's basically a standalone adventure, this afternoon's worth of DLC takes place inside the timeline of the game we have already played. Basically - and this is a spoiler if you've not played the original - after you get locked inside the ship to find your way to the Belltower secret base, you are "off grid" for three days. You are not, as you might have assumed from playing the game, just in stasis for that time. Instead something happens: The Missing Link.

Yes, Jensen probably thought he was being very clever hiding in that cryotube thing, but it doesn't work out, and you soon find yourself loose about the ship, along with plenty of hostiles. It's back to crawling about in tunnels and snooping down corridors, but for the first part of the DLC, at least, this takes place aboard a ship - with some impressive on-deck sequences where you look out at stormy seas, and even a decent ambience of ship movement below deck as the great thing sways and groans in rough seas. When below deck, things are a little less interesting: identikit corridors and ladders, many corridors inexplicably blocked off with crates, with one route looking much the same as the next.

The first bit of the DLC I found a nightmarish challenge. Partly this is because you've been stripped of your kit and had your augs fried by the baddies, but it's also partly because it's tuned to the difficulty of someone who has been playing Deus Ex. I was a bit out of step with it, and bounced off the first few clusters of baddies quite awkwardly. Once I hit my stride, however, it was business as usual, and the elbow swords quickly got blood out of some stony-faced security guards.

And yes, I really do mean business as usual. The Missing Link doesn't really add anything to the palette, although it does incrementally challenge the visual palette a bit by simply not being quite so gold. It's a bit more grey, instead. Nevertheless there's tonnes of content, from the conversations being had by guards to the heaps of incidental info in emails, ebooks and other items scattered around the maps. If there's a disappointment with any of this it's that some of the dialogue is a bit weak, and the voice acting that delivers it weaker still. Not consistently, but some of it made me go "hmm" when I heard it the first time, and then "erk" later on when I heard it again.

Things get more interesting when you get off the ship and dock at a base that - you have already been told - is a nasty place to be. (There's actually a neat piece of tension involved with docking, as the ship's public announcement system slowly narrates the docking, leading up to the climax of arriving at base full of enemies.) There are, however, some allies, and although disconnected from Pritchard and chums, Jensen does get some outside help.

I am not sure I want to say much more, because I'll just end up walking all over this fragment of game. So two three observations to close: there's an attempt to address the boss battle issue toward the end of this, with the player able to use a number of routes to overcome the challenge. It's not perfect, but it is better. Secondly, it seems to react to violence much better than the main game. My slaughter of the ships denizens led to jabbering fear from NPCs in the base, which was refreshing. Lastly, I think you'll get through this in about four hours, and it's certainly not a vital addition to the tale of Adam Jensen. I couldn't help enjoying it, of course, because it's more DXHR.

So, as in Deus Ex, so in life, choose where to spend the points you earned...

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Jim Rossignol avatar

Jim Rossignol


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