It’s an exciting time to be an iOS gamer. The gap between portables, consoles, and PCs seems to be slowly reaching parity. As we saw recently with the release of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, console-quality games are possible on iOS with certain limitations. Deus Ex: The Fall is an impressive title that retains the style and mechanics of the original game, while making some necessary technical omissions. It’s an ambitious game that succeeds in offering a dynamic stealth action, deep character customization, and multiple ways to complete missions.
Adam Jensen is absent in this adventure. Instead you take the role of Ben Saxon. The story takes place before the events of Human Revolution, with Ben working with the same military group Jensen faces off with later in the series. After being set up by his comrades, Ben attempts to turn the tables and plots his revenge. The story falls flat and doesn’t match the intensity and depth of its predecessor, but it still offers a deeper adventure than most iOS titles. Hopefully the planned DLC will give us a deeper look into the Deus Ex world.
Deus Ex: The Fall is third-person shooter/RPG hybrid with a deep customization system. Ben is outfitted with augments that grant new abilities and powers, including super strength, silent movement, and optical enhancements for aiming weapons. The augments allow you to customize your play style, and they also determine how you complete missions. The levels offer multiple paths to choose from. For example, you can choose to sneak through vents to silently drop your enemies from the shadows, or you can go in with your gun blazing. You can also choose whether to kill or incapacitate your foes. The non-lethal approach is a welcome change from gratuitous and indiscriminate killing in most action titles.
The weapons and tools at your disposal are also upgradable and extensible. If you prefer non-lethal takedowns, you can purchase a stun gun. If you prefer silent killing, you can equip silencers on your guns. The choices at your disposal are numerous and offer a great deal of replayability. You can also use hacking skills to reach restricted areas and turn robotic enemies into allies. To hack devices you play an addictive mini game that requires you to capture nodes in a limited amount of time depending on the difficultly level of the hack. Each hack is a puzzle and requires quick decisions. Your hacking abilities are important to upgrade early in the game, as they can give you big tactical advantages and ton of experience points.
The touch screen controls are a double-edged sword. While navigating and sneaking around feels precise due to smart UI pop-ups, the combat can be difficult to master. I usually enjoy playing Deus Ex titles as a pacifist and employ non-lethal tactics whenever possible, but those with an itchy trigger finger may be turned off by the weak controls for gunplay and close quarters encounters.
Shootouts often lead to you being outnumbered and flanked by goons, and the controls make it difficult to react quickly. I found myself struggling to do a 180 and shoot my attackers after being flanked, so I wound up reloading my save and starting over. The enemies will also liberally toss grenades precisely over your cover, and escaping isn’t easy with these touch controls. If you approach the encounters strategically and mix up the fights with stealth and shooting, you’ll find it much easier to succeed, which is a nice change of pace from the mindless dime-a-dozen action games on iOS.
I played the game on launch day and dealt with crashes rather frequently, so save often to avoiding repeating tough sections. This will hopefully be fixed in future updates. Regardless of the small issues with AI and crashes, Deus Ex: The Fall is must play experience that no iOS gamer should miss.