Deus Ex: The Fall is Square Enix’s attempt to create a proper console experience for mobile devices. It’s the Deus Ex we know and love; a first-person action RPG with upgrades, moral choices and multiple endings, squeezed down for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. While that’s an impressive technical achievement, touchscreen controls sadly make the game’s combat a frustrating chore, and spoil an otherwise very polished game.
The story so far
The Fall is a brand new adventure that runs in parallel to Deus Ex: Human Revolution. You play as Ben Saxon, an ex-SAS soldier who receives augmentations to help him work in the private military sector. It’s a mildly intriguing tale of a global pharmaceutical conspiracy, but the main character is as bland and generic as they come, and it’s difficult to care what happens to him in the first chapter of this multi-part story.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a vibrant, meticulously detailed depiction of the future, and it’s been recreated admirably well on iOS devices. It’s a strong technical showcase for the iPhone and iPad; a game that sometimes doesn’t look far off the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 in terms of visuals. Sadly, the character models somewhat foul the facade, and the game world isn’t anywhere near as big as its console brother, but it’s still way above most mobile titles.
Playing the role
Deus Ex’s key gameplay features have made the move to mobile, which is particularly impressive given how deep the series is.This is a proper role-playing experience, with a skill tree that you can upgrade as you progress depending on your gameplay style.
You won’t be able to fully upgrade your character in one playthrough, but you can start a new game once you finish the main story with all your upgrades intact.
Out of control
Deus Ex’s control system has been adapted for touchscreen controls, with your left thumb used for movement and your right thumb for looking around. You can also double-tap on the screen to make your character run to a certain spot. It’s a compromise that every mobile first person shooter has to make, but it still feels cumbersome. We spent the entire game wishing we could be playing with a standard controller.
Way of the gun
If the touchscreen controls make movement cumbersome, then they make combat just plain frustrating. The screen is so overburdened with buttons, especially on iPhone, that you end up pawing at the screen desperately trying to hit the enemies. It doesn’t help that it often takes multiple hits, even to the head, to take enemies down. We ended up sneaking through most of the game and avoiding combat wherever possible, but even then we’d accidentally press the fire button and give away our position.
Deus Ex: The Fall is an open world game; you can choose to take on side missions for more credits and rewards, or you can just ignore them. You can also choose different dialogue options when talking to characters, and upgrade your conversational abilities so that you can convince them to do your bidding. It’s impressive stuff for a mobile title, while the three different endings that result from these decisions mean there’s some replayability.
The audio in The Fall is a mix of the sublime and the terrible. Composer Michael McCann returns to deliver another brilliant synth soundtrack, which really adds to the game’s atmosphere. Sadly though, the voice acting is way below the standard set in Human Revolution, particularly the main character of Ben Saxon, who nonchalantly grunts his way through cliché after cliché.
The Fall costs £4.99 and took us just over four hours to play through all of the main missions and side missions we came across. You’ll have to play the game three times if you want to unlock all the augmentations and see the different endings. That alone offers pretty good value for money on a cost-per-hour basis. Make no mistake, though, this is the first chapter in an ongoing story--the game ends with a cliffhanger and promises to continue through future releases. Fingers crossed they come with tighter controls.
The Fall also boasts microtransactions, with in-game credits up for grabs in return for real money. The developer claims that you shouldn’t need to spend anything to finish the game, but we came across one enemy towards the end of the game who needed a lot of firepower to take down. We didn’t have enough credits, so we felt forced to spend £1.99 to acquire the credits we needed to buy a rocket launcher. We like to think we’re not that rubbish at games and this seems like a rather unsubtle attempt from the developers to dip back into your wallet.
Along with the recently released XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Deus Ex: The Fall shows that console-level games are possible on mobile devices. It’s a technically impressive game with visuals and features way beyond most mobile titles. Sadly, though, its botched controls make combat something you’ll want to avoid at all costs. Those third party Bluetooth controllers (enabled with iOS7) can’t come soon enough.