Deus Ex: The Fall Review: Good Game, Poor Quality Control
People had a lot of expectations for Deus Ex: The Fall, the mobile-exclusive quasi-sequel to the console franchise. The game doesn’t quite live up to our lofty expectations, but it’s still a capable FPS for your iPhone. Unfortunately, it’s also got some technical flaws.
In Deus Ex, you take control of ex-SAS mercenary Ben Saxon, an augmented man on the run in a future dominated by corporations and shadow governments. The story apparently ties into to the novel Deus Ex: Icarus Effect. The plot is pretty typical for these sorts of dystopian futures, complex and constantly shifting gears and not always comprehensible (especially if you’re not familiar with the game lore, which I’m not).
Saxon makes his way through the world of Deus Ex, which is centered mainly on Panama City, completing main quests and side quests that have him alternately talking, searching, sneaking, and engaging in combat. The city and all the environments look good, dominated by ochre and shadow. The same can’t truly be said about the character models. While Saxon himself looks fine, the enemies tend to be blocky, flat-faced, and endlessly recycled. They’re dumb as bricks, too (though the devs released a quick update that supposedly adjusts AI intelligence).
The FPS interface of Deus Ex is effective, though cluttered. Clearly, the devs wanted to try and fit all the subtle varieties of an XBox controller in screen. They do succeed in building a lot of different interactions on the HUD without crowding the viewing area too much. However, all the buttons on the periphery mean that movement takes place further in — not a huge deal on a iPad screen, but kind of annoying for iPhone players.
Like in other Deus Ex games, combat here can be handled many ways. Sneak around and quietly dispatch enemies? Or run and gun your way to victory? Honestly, given the control scheme and the damage dealt by most of the weapons, it’s easier here to sneak around and waylay people. Unfortunately, the game is designed as such that you can’t engage in hand-to-hand combat often, as a single takedown move uses up your “combat energy” and must refill before you can ambsh again.
That means you’ll be shooting quite a bit. There’s a fair number of weapons and upgrades available in the game, purchased for in-game credits (yes, you can buy credits as IAP but there’s zero reason to). I didn’t see a whole lot of difference between the gun types. You’ll have to find the one that works for you.
While Deus Ex: The Fall isn’t quite the game we were all hoping it would be, when it works, it works well. It’s yet more evidence (as if we needed it) that mobile gaming can deliver an experience nearly on par with consoles.
The problem is that it does NOT work, literally, all the time. My iPhone 4S crashed nearly every time I played the game. In fact, all the crashes means that, as of this writing, I have not actually completed the game. It’s just too much of a pain in the ass.
I’m not alone in this, either; the App Store reviews are full of complaints about the game’s instability, especially on anything older than the iPhone 5. Big fail on Square Enix for not testing this game out on older devices.
Hopefully the glitches are the sort of thing that an update can fix, because otherwise word of mouth is going to spread. Deus Ex: The Fall is ambitious, and while it’s not a Game of the Year contender, it’s certainly worth a play for people who want that big game experience in their hands. I hope they fix the crashing issue so it can get the wider play that it deserves.
Our Score: 3.5 out of 5