Eagerly awaiting Skyrim to come out, but in the meantime, while it was still fresh, I figured I would try out the first DLC available for Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Cut to the chase, unless you’re really thrilled to get new content, I think this is a missable addition to Human Revolution that doesn’t offer that much. If you like the game’s core mechanics and want to try something new though, this might be worth the $9.99 to you.
The story here has been carefully sandwiched in a blackout period that occurs chronologically in the main game. Although it’s a pretty clever trick to have some tangents from the main story break off to form their own core in this expansion, it also feels a bit like this may have been some stuff omitted just to bump up sales. The story is tied to the actual game, but also explores some things related to the original Deus Ex. There is some spy intrigue, but there isn’t anything truly captivating here. A secret prison where experiments are being conducted? You don’t say… The only kind of “ah ha” moments are when you pick up the references to the original Deus Ex, but that’s not really the mark of great writing in this iteration.
As far as action, there are some new types of guards, but really they’re just the same old enemies wearing slightly different clothes. One neat surprise is a new security system installed in certain hallways that is basically a standing typhoon bomb battery that will activate (and definitely kill you), if you trip the wrong alarm. It’s one of the few new things this expansion offers other than new terrain and map design. And yes, it’s the same bomb battery you see in one of the opening cut scenes in the main game, so I wonder why they didn’t make it in, in the first place.
You are stranded on a remote island fortress and have your augmentations, which you have no doubt been carefully calibrating for the entire game, stripped entirely. Eventually, you are given the opportunity to quickly regain a lot of your core functionality, although you’re given freedom to basically retool by allocating your skill/praxis points in a completely different manner. For me, this was a golden opportunity to play around with some skills I passed on the first two playthroughs of the main game. I enjoyed the freedom to rebuild my character and do some experimentation. Given that the hallmark of this franchise is choice, the choice to tackle problems a whole new way is always a boost. What I really expected was some new choices or abilities would be opening up here. There aren’t any though.
Now to extras. What is new? There are a few one of a kind weapons that are available, but they’re not really that relevant or game changing at all. A cool pistol and a neat rocket launcher. That’s about it.
Why am I complaining so much? Well, I think a lot of it has to do with my expectations for DLC. This was a great chance to introduce a new playable character or redefine some of the game mechanics in some sort of meaningful way. It’s the same knock out the guards and cameras mechanic though. Although the hacking function in Human Revolution is really cool, we just have more here. When I think of a great DLC, I think of GTA4 and the two great DLCs that were released later. The Ballad of Gay Tony and The Lost and The Damned were really welcome additions to the original game, highlighted new elements of the game’s world, and brought different combat and mission philosophy. They are new characters with new problems, carefully woven into the backdrop of Niko’s story. It’s a matter of defining what is “more.” What I am interested to see is whether future DLCs will offer anything new, as the ending suggests there may be more going on with parts of this new story arch. Only time will tell.