Review - Deus Ex: The Fall
It would have been incredibly easy for Square Enix to make Deus Ex: The Fall a cheap cash-in, but I am very happy to report that they did not take the easy road. This is in stark contrast to the thousands of people declaring it a cheap cash-in without ever playing the game. Having actually played Deus Ex: The Fall, I can safely say that it is in fact one of the most ambitious mobile games I’ve ever played. Luckily for those willing to give this game a fair chance, Square Enix’s ambition pays off in a big way, delivering us an excellent experience worthy of the Deus Ex name.
...for the most part.
Deus Ex: The Fall, obviously, takes place in the Deus Ex universe, human augmentations abound. While not unique to this game, I can’t help mentioning how much I love the world Deus Ex creates. It is a surprisingly realistic not-so-distant-future, the idea that people will want to get robotic body parts to enhance themselves hardly being far-fetched. More importantly though, it is a brilliant way to explain the RPG elements in the game, which we will discuss later.
Deus Ex: The Fall begins with a black ops mission of revenge for protagonist Ben Saxon, a mission that reveals the true culprit behind the death of his former team. Now in hiding, Ben sets out to secure a supply of Neuropozyne, a drug that all augmented people need to take to survive. In the process, he becomes caught up in a tale of corruption and power revolving around gangs, militias, corporations, and a mysterious new alternative drug. Throw in some nice twists and you’ve got a fairly gripping tale, gripping enough at least for me to say nothing more about it here. My only real complaint regarding the story is that it commonly falls into the overdone video game “I’ll only help you if you do this quest for me” formula, which is forgivable.
The graphics of Deus Ex: The Fall are golden, metaphorically and literally. Nearly every single location has a gold/yellowish hue to it, which gives the game that distinct Deus Ex feel sadly at the cost of slightly lessened visual variety. The metaphorical golden applies to the great amount of detail put into nearly every asset. Like all open-world games it’s best that you don’t get too close to anything, but at an average distance Deus Ex: The Fall is easily one of the best-looking mobile games I’ve played. The excellent presentation alone makes the world interesting and fun to travel through and explore. Cutscenes are a different story, however. Most of the characters’ faces look odd in one way or another, mouth movements aren’t quite right, and their faces feel very plastic, seeming to never change expression, which can be pretty distracting.
I’m not the most subtle of FPS players, to put it mildly, so I was impressed that Deus Ex: The Fall convinced me to be stealthy early on using only its audio design. Right away I was immersed in this world due to the excellent use of ambient sound and top-notch sound effects. The usually understated music knows exactly when to pick up to keep you alert. It all creates such a tense atmosphere that you automatically crouch and cautiously move, afraid to break the silence with enemy gunfire. When the gunfire does come, it’s pretty standard fare. While out of combat, there’s still reason to keep your earbuds in. In such a story-driven game, it’s great to see that voice acting is solid throughout. The occasional weak performance does pop up, but they are always remedied by our protagonist’s consistent quality.
Deus Ex: The Fall is an open world game, though that term may be a bit too generous. Your only hub is the city of Panama, and it isn’t really a completely open city; it’s more like a series of linear paths and independent buildings you are free to travel between. Like most open world games, you can complete a number of side quests you receive from various people to earn rewards and extra experience. Said experience goes into unlocking and upgrading new augmentations. These represent the RPG elements of Deus Ex: The Fall, giving the player a nice array of active and passive abilities to invest into. A few do seem much more useful than others, however, and some are practically necessary, which limits a little bit of player choice.
The philosophy behind Deus Ex’s gameplay is to allow the player to tackle their missions in any way they see fit. The developers incorporate this school of thought by offering multiple paths through missions, which is decently present in this iteration, and opening up combat styles whether it be stealth or mindless bullet-spraying. Deus Ex: The Fall’s gameplay falls quite nicely into these two categories, so we’ll discuss them separately.
Stealth is where Deus Ex: The Fall really shines, mostly due to the excellent squad-based system it operates on. If you’re spotted, that enemy will alert the others in its group to your location, as opposed to alerting the whole army or attacking on his own. And luckily Deus Ex: The Fall gives you plenty of tools to deal with these groups. Your mini-map shows you the locations of enemies and cameras, which is crucial in planning your assault. On-screen buttons let you easily leap between cover as well as rotate around it, allowing you stalk and ambush your victims as you’d like. Silenced guns of all kinds can be used to dispatch them quietly, along with a non-lethal melee takedown. It is also set up to reward players who move deliberately and intelligently. Sometimes the best option is to wait and study enemy paths or explore a bit and find a way to bypass the situation all together. All of this put together is, quite honestly, the best stealth experience on the platform. There are few things as satisfying as finally clearing a group of enemies smoothly after a frustrating handful of botched attempts. It makes you feel intelligent, which is something straight-forward shooters almost never do.
As soon as you stop playing stealthily though, Deus Ex: The Fall starts to crumble beneath its lofty ambitions. Due to a combination of numerous problems, the action in Deus Ex: The Fall really suffers. I wouldn’t necessarily call it bad, it just isn’t on par with other iOS shooters. On paper, the action should be fine. You have a large selection of guns to purchase, all upgradable and complete with attachment possibilities. You can shoot from cover or be in first person, and if enemies get too close, you have a lethal takedown. In reality, however, too many things go wrong. To start, the controls feel loose. The lack of an aim-assist really makes it a challenge to land shots, showing just how important aim-assist is to touchscreen shooters. Deus Ex: The Fall is also brutally difficult. Firefights are practically a death sentence, especially later in the game. Unless you spend a ton of money upgrading your favorite gun, don’t expect shoot-outs to last long. In a nutshell, the game that was once fluid and exhilarating is now clumsy and frustrating, which is both incredibly jarring and incredibly disappointing.
The lacking action of Deus Ex: The Fall harms the game in three ways. First, even the most skilled of stealth players will eventually mess up and be spotted. Once that happens, it’s a complete mess trying to survive the assault. The second way is a bit more substantial. The philosophy behind Deus Ex is to allow the player to tackle their mission in any way they see fit, whether it be stealth or mindless bullet-spraying. In Deus Ex: The Fall, though, there’s really only one option if you want a rewarding experience. It’s the Dominant Strategy Theory all over again. Everyone will play stealthily because those who choose to play without subtlety are essentially being punished for that decision - not through difficulty or story-based consequences, but rather poor gameplay.
The final way in which the deficient shoot-outs damage Deus Ex: The Fall is in replayability. You will get a solid 5-6 hour campaign but little more. The only collectible in the game is a series of character models you can view from the main menu. In other Deus Ex games, a second playthrough is almost a given. If you played using stealth, you can go through again guns a-blazin’ and vice versa. That sadly isn’t true in the case of this game since you will learn very quickly that action isn’t a fun option. A second playthrough isn’t out of the question, however. There’s something to be said for a game that’s worth going through again simply because it’s a good experience. On top of that, story-based DLC has been confirmed to be coming soon, which is for the best after that cliff hanger ending.
Before we wrap this up I’d like to point out that Deus Ex: The Fall requires higher-end hardware to run, so make sure you own an adequate phone before getting too excited to play it. I bring this up because I personally couldn’t play Deus Ex: The Fall on my older phone, so I had to upgrade to do this review. That’s right, I got a shiny new phone just for you guys. The sacrifices I make...
My verdict for Deus Ex: The Fall was a tricky one to reach. On one hand, my personal experience with it was just short of excellent, but on the other hand I have to look at it as objectively as possible. I gave Deus Ex: The Fall a “Rent It” (cautionary recommendation) mainly because my style of play is not the only way people will play it. There are going to be those looking to buy this game who want to run-and-gun, and for them, this isn’t worth the purchase compared to other mobile first-person shooters. However, if you know that you’re going to play stealthily, minor frustrations are the only thing standing between you and an incredibly satisfying experience. Stealth games have never been my cup of tea, yet I still thoroughly enjoyed Deus Ex: The Fall. A stealth game that can entertain Mr. Trigger-Happy over here more than deserves a chance from those interested.
7s are very fun games that have solid appeal. They have obvious issues that stick out, but can still be enjoyed by anyone.
|Sean Capdeville is the official mobile game reviewer of ScrewAttack.com. An aspiring filmmaker, his favorite games include Skyrim, Link's Awakening DX, and NOVA 3. In his spare time, he likes to reference Casablanca.|
I normally stay away from mobile game versions because the screen is too small for real enjoyment, and because of all the app malware news on http://vpnexpress.net... But this looks so cool I think I'm gonna go for it anyway. I rarely have time for games except on commutes anyway, so I should probably get used to it.
It's actually coming to Android next month! And yes, the elitism against mobile games is infuriating.
I'm really hoping for an Android release but knowing Square Enix, we can expect to see one maybe in 2016...
And it's really a shame that "hardcore" pride and elitism are keeping gamers from giving mobile games of this quality the respect they deserve.
Buttons are overrated.
I'm surprised it let you download it since my iPhone 4 wasn't capable, and that has the same specs as 4th gen iPod touch.
iPod Touch 4th Gen which is supposedly supported
What device are you playing on?
I'd love to play this but it keeps crashing upon loading the assets...
True, not many people asked for it, but the success of this game could help encourage a next-gen Deus Ex game, which people HAVE been asking for.
I wouldn't hold your breath. It's designed as a touchscreen game and I doubt making it work with a controller would be worth the time and cost for Square.
I'm going to play Deus Ex: Human Revolution soon, but I'm sure I'll want a next-gen sequel as well.
A game with this level of production is in no way a cash-in. This was a smart investment, as mobile gaming is rapidly growing.
If they won't bother playing a game before judging it, why should they read a review before judging that?
And thank you.
Literally the first 2 sentences were you talking about how people will call "cash-in" without playing it. And look at the 2 comments right below our conversation here. So I guess on top of not giving the game a chance, they're not even bothering to read the review for it. UGH!
Good review by the way.
That's exactly what's happening. That's what always happens.
I wonder if people are giving this a low rating simply because it's a mobile game. It happens with any sport game that comes up here so I know it happens.
I never thought it was a cash in. Only that... nobody...asked...for.. this... ahem.
this is a true defenition of cash in.The only big game that did work on Ipad is Xcom.If you watch one of the episode Extra Credits you will see what i mean.
hopefully we get a true sequal soon for ps4 or xbox one i liked the first game but u might as well call it a love letter to robocop lol
If it ever gets ported to the Surface, which has 360 controller support, it would probably play like a dream come true.