Deus Ex: The Fall stumbles as it lands

This is Portabliss, a column about downloadable games that can be played on the go.

Deus Ex The Fall stumbles as it lands
Deus Ex: The Fall had a difficult coming out party. After predicting a follow-up to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, fans recoiled in frustration when Square Enix revealed The Fall as a mobile-exclusive game.

Molding the movement and style of Eidos Montreal's reimagined world to a touch interface must not have been an easy task, but developer n-Fusion has pulled it off. Deus Ex: The Fall features a number of control options, including precision movements with virtual sticks and/or screen taps. Customizable icons allow for easy access to weapons, executions, abilities, items and more.

Deus Ex: The Fall can be enjoyable, but the overall experience is hollow. With a sparsely populated world, unenthusiastic story, and drastic dips in quality, Deus Ex: The Fall lacks the same passion that made Human Evolution one of 2011's best video games.%Gallery-193588% Rather than continue the story of Adam Jensen, The Fall opts to follow Ben Saxon after the events of the Human Revolution prequel novel, Deus Ex: The Icarus Effect. Saxon works with the PMC group known as the "Tyrants," which is headed by the same group of bosses Jensen later dispatches in Human Revolution. After suffering a betrayal from his team, Saxon escapes and plots his revenge. Soon the game shifts its direct focus, taking Saxon through back alleys and underground operations to uncover a conspiracy around an illicit street drug that is killing augmented fiends.

The story does its best to engage, but doesn't strike the same high note as Human Revolution. Part of the reason The Fall fails is due to a massive dip in graphics and voice-over quality. Enemies and other characters, their voices, and even their dialog are constantly recycled. While Saxon, the prime cast and some locations are well designed, the game pushes you into too many back alleys and buildings where textures, enemies and other characters are an ugly, congealing mess.

Saxon, one of the better realized and voiced characters, uses methods and abilities that mirror those of Jensen. Augmented from the start, Saxon has access to many skills that were featured in Human Revolution, like cloaking, and he also brings new skills to the fight, like active electrostatic armor plating that shields against enemy fire.

Deus Ex The Fall stumbles as it lands
What impressed me was how n-Fusion was able to translate playing Human Revolution on a mobile device. As it was with The Fall's predecessor, straight aggression and complete stealth are both viable solutions for Saxon's objectives. The hacking minigame from Human Revolution – in which players infiltrate multiple nodes of varying security before the system is shut down – is faithfully translated here, as well.

Secondary quests are often available throughout the game, many with solutions that alter Saxon's current objective. For example, Saxon meets an underground doctor with access to an illegal drug. The drug can alleviate some of the symptoms Saxon suffers from as a result of his augmentations. Soon after, a police officer looking to take the 'drug peddler' off the streets asks Saxon to find evidence the police can use against the doctor. Revisiting the doctor, I had the option to grab the evidence and turn the doctor in or warn him about the police investigation – a decision that affects how either character would interact with Saxon later.

But it's not always perfect. My intention was to warn the doctor, get him out of town and then offer the collected evidence for a reward to the police, but the only dialog option available to me was to admit to the cop that the good doctor had skipped town. He was none too pleased with my efforts. Other missions suffer the same issue, where the game limits your ability to make the choices you have in mind.

Deus Ex The Fall stumbles as it lands
Enemy artificial intelligence issues also plague the game. Adversaries regularly run straight toward Saxon during firefights, without any regard for their own survival. In stealth scenarios, the A.I. tends to forget things that have alerted them within moments. In one early engagement, an enemy stopped firing at me in the middle of a battle. One particularly dimwitted baddie attempted to take cover from my gunfire on a wall behind me.

Developer n-Fusion did a solid job adapting the complexities of Human Revolution's mechanics onto a touch interface, and thankfully microtransactions – which allow you to purchase in-game money and boosts toward XP – are completely optional and never in your face. At $7, what Deus Ex: The Fall does best is to, for a limited time, satiate a hunger for another entry in Eidos Montreal's sleek universe.


This Portabliss is based on the iPad version of Deus Ex: The Fall, provided by Square Enix.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.