Deus Ex: The Fall (PC) review
"More like a stumble."
Nothing in The Fall fits as it should: The graphics are an inconsistent mix of imported high detail models from Human Revolution and polygon budgeted characters who are even uglier than Eidos Montreal’s prior outing. The music, also imported from Revolution, is nothing more than short loops of a characterless background soundtrack. Assume the role of the completely forgettable protagonist if you dare.
Was his name Alex? Probably. Do I care? Not in the least, and that’s a problem for this franchise. The Fall grants you access to most of Jenson’s mechanics, such as sneaking, sniping, stealthing and snarking. Well, no, no snarking, and that sucks. This lead is a good guy, which isn’t a problem, except that somehow we’re supposed to believe he’s hardwired for bloody-edged combat.
I promise not to use the word “problem” for the rest of this review, okay? The Fall has so many, how about we start with what’s good. Hmm… the main character models look okay, except for their distractingly animated mouths. Also, there’s the trademark Eidos waggle of head and arm that the motion capture actors seem to love so much. That’s probably imported, too.
The story is mildly interesting, with an opening/tutorial section that has you working with the villains from Revolution. The unfortunately named “Tyrants” have betrayed you – surprise (insert obligatory eye roll here), and they don’t have the sense to hide the truth behind anything more than an easily hackable computer terminal. You have a confrontation with the team leader, who’s name I have misplaced in this pile of drudgery.
The Fall was developed with the Unity Engine, which serves other games quite well by being flexible and having tools to code for mobile, of which this is a port. Eidos Montreal has ousted the microtransactions from the Steam version – which are pointless, and I’ll get to why in a moment. According to the Steam page, the AI was revised as well. What did they do, downgrade them from walking rucksacks?
Enemies literally follow the mechanics employed in Revolution. You enter a room full of guards and must discover one of several paths to your objective. You can go in guns blazing; sneak about and knock enemies out one by one so their witless allies are none the wiser, and on a couple of occasions you can use the security hub to disable cameras and turn robots against your rocks-for-brains foes.
You won’t be dragging their bodies anywhere, as they excuse themselves in black, sepia edged polygons Tron style, but trust me: If you’re going to waste your time taking them out, save your ammo. They can absorb a dozen bullets unless you land a head shot with the click and pray targeting system. Wasted bullets were an incentive to buy more with Eidos funbucks, ya read me?
It may be a reprieve that The Fall is blissfully short. Just five hours for a complete play through, and that includes exploring all of the secret corridors and finding the hidden goodies. Regrettably, the sole shocker is the unexpected jolt you get whilst hunting for this game’s glazed mcguffin. N-Fusion has managed to preserve what is fun about Revolution to an extent, so let’s talk about where they let us down.
Goodies are everywhere, and that may have been a function of encouraging the player’s microtransaction habit. Instead of buying items, weapons and gear from vendors, you purchase them from an unexplained shop that exists somewhere between their bank account and your wallet. Whatever you need, from painkillers to weapon upgrades, you’ll find it there, for a price you couldn’t possibly afford. By this I mean there aren’t enough credits in the game to afford the cool stuff and then buy everything else you need.
Game length isn’t an… issue for a mobile game, as sessions tend toward brief stints. Just how many RPGs grace mobile, compared to titles requiring as little as ten minutes of your time? The Fall seems to be a step in the wrong direction, and since the game ends on a cliffhanger, anyone desperate for more content has already turned to Mankind Divided, by this juncture. Eidos’ reputation of strange marketing tactics is well known, and this Falls directly into that category. What is clear now, after three years, is that the game was not received well by critics or fans, and no one is clamouring to find out what happens in Australia.
Who decided Panama would be a good place to remodel into an uninspired rip off of Detroit, anyway? Why there’s so much backtracking is obvious, but… let’s see, if you decide to explore everything in the Drug Den, you’ll find the Garage, which is part of a main quest. Knock down all the pins in that room and you’ve made your job that much easier. Wouldn’t a locked door and a bit of text have explained that one away? If it’s going to be loaded in as another part of the map anyway, why not branch it off?
N-Fusion made some perplexing decisions, and I suspect they were directed by Square-Enix, as is usual for a franchise of this calibre. Unfortunately for us players, they sucked all the fun out of this stealth romp and injected it with a massive dose of lame. When you have so many upgrades at your disposal and don’t even need to use half of them to complete the “episode”, then why are they there?
Graphical glitches need mentioning, because they’re a pox on this title. Shoddy quality assurance – just one tester employed – has left this game with silly errors. Some burning barrels haven’t had their smoke transparency set right, though that could be a result of running the game on a newer graphics card than was originally intended. Takedowns are especially jarring, as you’ll be shown the takedown in a preset location nearby, not quite where you are.
If the background disappears, don’t blink, you will see it again. Perhaps they should have documented it as a game feature. Backgrounds aren’t the only things mislaid, as items dropped by knocked out NPCs will phase into the ground. Oh yes, and the worst of it all: Poorly executed sight lines and hit detection. Enemies can find you, even though you’re completely silent (that upgrade is one of your first). They can also shoot through the wall you’re crouched behind.
Targeting and control responsiveness is sluggish enough that you’re going to die because the game just can’t keep up with your reflexes. Is that acceptable because it’s a mobile port? In a word, never.
The Fall isn’t a total loss, but if you’re anticipating Human Revolution quality entertainment, you’re better served picking up Mankind Divided. The heli-jet has left the pad and there’s no hint it will ever return.
Community review by hastypixels (May 21, 2017)
At some point you stop justifying what you play and begin to realize what you're learning by playing.
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