Deus Ex: The Fall Review

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Deus Ex comes to mobile platforms in a very glossy, visually polished game, sadly fraught with gameplay issues.

Deus Ex: The Fall: On the plus side

A quick but necessary disclaimer for this review; Deus Ex is one of those series that I haven’t paid much attention to in the past. Yes, I know it’s rather beloved on certain other platforms, but there’s only so much time in the day for games, and my attention has been elsewhere. Anyway, bear that in mind as you read, because if there are massive plot revelations hidden within Deus Ex: The Fall that relate to other games, they’re ones that have gone over my head with some kind of futuristic whooshing sound.

The plot is standard stuff, but  well handled, which isn't always the case for Sci-Fi shooters.
The plot is standard stuff, but well handled, which isn’t always the case for Sci-Fi shooters.

Futuristic is the word to use, of course. Deus X: The Fall is a futuristic shooter with light RPG elements, and that’s a mix that doesn’t always work well on touchscreens… but I’m getting ahead of myself. This is meant to be the good stuff, and there is quite a bit of that. Deus X: The Fall has a fairly standard sci-fi plot, but it’s one that’s reasonably well implemented and acted, and laid out against a futuristic backdrop that has a lot of character behind it. You’ve got to love neon orange hues, but if you do, you’ll enjoy the basic aesthetic that The Fall offers. Like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, this is a title that does a whole lot with the processing power at hand, making it look very good for a mobile title.
There’s also a certain amount of play freedom inherent in Deus X: The Fall. You can equip your fallen cyber-soldier, Ben Saxon with upgrades that play to the strengths of stealth gaming, or turn him into a guns-blazing tank at will depending on your preferred play style. You’re in control of a branching plot tree based upon your responses to key conversations, which should give Deus X: The Fall a bit of replayability.

Deus Ex: The Fall: On the minus side

The problem is, for all its ambition, when it comes time to stop talking and actually do something, Deus X: The Fall just doesn’t deliver. Ben’s basic movement is handled well enough for a touchscreen, but when you get into a gunfight, you’ll be tapping to get aim, only to double tap so that you run towards a target, stopping, turning around, trying to take cover, only to discover that you’ve been comprehensively shot. Or sometimes not. I’ve had firefights start with a gang, taken down one guy quickly and accidentally rushed towards him, only to have his compadres stand stock still, waiting to see what would happen next. Maybe they were laughing at my incompetence. It’s hard to tell, but it’s not a satisfying way to play.

Get into lots of firefights, and get used to seeing this a whole lot.
Get into lots of firefights, and get used to seeing this a whole lot.

Stealth works a little better than direct gunplay, but again sloppy AI detracts from the experience. Sometimes you get ignored in plain sight. Sometimes you get spotted within a split second. There’s not much of a way to tell until after it’s happened, and often it’ll mean replaying an annoying section more than once if the game doesn’t interpret your actions correctly.
The setting looks great -- but the core gameplay needs tweaking to match that quality.
The setting looks great — but the core gameplay needs tweaking to match that quality.

It’s always feasible that the game will be patched to resolve these issues. I certainly hope it is, because there’s some fine games assets essentially going to waste here.

Deus Ex: The Fall: Pricing

Deus X: The Fall costs $7.49.

Deus Ex: The Fall: Alex’s verdict

Despite my unfamiliarity with the game’s core canon — and once again, perhaps I’m missing something vital here, but if so, then that’s true of any gamer new to the series — I really wanted to like Deus Ex: The Fall. Ultimately, though, I found I was doing far too much fighting the controls rather than my foes. Despite the interesting tale to tell, that meant I wasn’t having fun with Deus X: The Fall, which currently sits as a prime way to have a great setting and not enough game worth playing within it.

About the author

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

Comments

  1. “sadly fraught with gameplay issues.”
    It’s why I generally avoid FPS titles on the iPad till there are reviews, such as yours, to say yay or nay.. and this one is a nay, at this time.
    Maybe once iOS 7 bluetooth controller support becomes more common in games, things will change.. but for the moment, FPS games just aren’t all that readily suited to tablets unless the creators come up with some very innovative approach to the controls and gameplay.

  2. I’ve yet to had a pleasant experience with an iOS FPS. It’s one of the rare genres that I really do think can’t work with touch-screen controls, as they require a precision and level of control over the buttons that virtual controls just can’t emulate.
    The iOS operating system is about to get official support for controllers… I’m looking forward to an update of this game to include controller capabilities. And perhaps AirPlay support so I can play on my big TV at home.

    1. Best FPS so far for touchscreens I’ve found are the Modern Combat games from Gameloft. Shameless COD clones, to be sure, but they mostly work within their game designs, which is my great frustration with Deus Ex. I can see that there’s quite a good game trying to get out… but it doesn’t.

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