Deus Ex: Human Revolution was (and still is) one of my favorite action games of 2011, so much in fact that after playing it twice on console I did it all over for a third time on PC just to experience the better graphics. I’m sure many gamers are eagerly anticipating a next-gen sequel but meanwhile, Square Enix decided to replace a mobile version of Deus Ex. To their credit they wisely chose not to try and shoehorn the epic Human Revolution into a phone or tablet but rather opted to create a new game designed and tailored for mobile game devices. The result – Deus Ex: The Fall.
The events in The Fall take place before those of Adam Jensen and his “revolution”, thus requiring no knowledge of the game that hasn’t even happened yet, although those who have played Human Revolution will certainly smile at familiar locations, designs, and the perpetual gold aura that emanates from your screen almost the entire game. You’ll be playing Ben Saxon, whose character ends up being remarkably similar to Adam right down to similar weapons and skills sets on your configurable skill tree.
The designers are fully aware of the issues of past games that tried to emulate twin-stick controls using touch surfaces, and while Deus Ex: The Fall still uses that control scheme they have managed to smooth things out to the point where the game is not only function but downright enjoyable. The biggest obstacle – accurate aiming – is handled by simply tapping on your target to lock the reticle leaving you free to move and fire at will. Contextual buttons handle things like snapping to cover and melee takedown, and the familiar dialogue and conversation tree structure is still in play.
The game world is significantly smaller than its console cousin, but the level designs; both indoors and out, are surprisingly detailed and quite spectacular considering the limitations of the device on which you are playing. The Fall retains that inherent freedom of choice we all love in Deus Ex, so expect multiple paths through the stages that favor combat, stealth, hacking, etc. along with fun puzzles, secret items, and plenty of containers that can be searched.
The Fall does reveal its mobile limitations in other ways such as repeated animations for melee takedowns and limited NPC models that will have you feeling like you are trapped in a world of clones. The overall game is rather short with an almost jarring “to be continued…”ending that left me wondering why I didn’t know this was an episodic game in the first place. It doesn’t help the longevity when much of the challenge is negated by your ability to shop for more ammo and tech in the middle of a mission. And in the grand tradition of “pay to win”, you can spend real money to purchase in-game credits to accelerate your progress; not that you’ll need to do so to finish the game.
While the game is universal and will play on an iPhone, the smaller screen makes Deus Ex: The Fall problematic at best with its densely packed interface and button clusters and tiny hard-to-read text. Your fingers alone will block out a significant portion of your gameplay screen, so those wishing to experience this game really need to play it on a tablet.
Deus Ex: The Fall is an impressive game that manages to convey the same open world, freedom of choice experience we had on the console, albeit with a few limitations. The controls are fluid and functional and the graphics and sound presentation defy mobile expectations. This is easily one of the best games in the action-stealth-shooting genre I’ve played on my iPad this year, and if you have a newer model iPhone or iPad you should definitely check it out.