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Deus Ex - The Fall Review

A return to the very yellow world of Deus Ex


Deus Ex Human Revolution was hands down my favourite game of 2011, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting more from the universe since I finished it and its DLC. Last year’s Director’s Cut edition was a good excuse to play the game again, but it didn’t really have much in the way of new content.

Initially released just on IOS devices last summer, I’d been somewhat impatiently hanging on for an Android release of The Fall, and almost as soon as that was announced Square Enix also revealed the PC version. I’d already waited months, so what was another couple of weeks to get 1080p video and physical controls?

Set during the time Adam Jensen is being augmented after nearly being killed in the attack on Sarif Industries, The Fall tells a side story focusing on former SAS agent Ben Saxon who is on the run with his friend Anna Kelso. Both are also augmented, and are running out of the drug that prevents their bodies from rejecting their augmented parts, so Saxon heads to Panama searching for an alternative.

Ben then has a variety of missions to perform through several different areas of the city, finding out the truth behind the events in his past that had led him to where he is now as well as trying to save himself and Anna from the Tyrants, the group of augmented villains from Human Revolution behind the Sarif Industries attack that nearly killed Jensen.

Released as the first of at least two parts, The Fall ends with a cliffhanger promising that it is to be continued, and this is a shame because it happens just as the story was really starting to pick up. Something to bring me back for the next one for sure, but I just hope it doesn’t have as long a wait between platforms.

There is an awful lot in common between The Fall and Human Revolution, beyond just the superficial visual similarities. This to me is perfectly fine – I loved Human Revolution and more of the same is more than welcome. The basic mission structure is the same, with Panama having a main set of story missions running through it with several side missions that are completely optional available to do on the side.

Completing the missions as well as exploring, killing or neutralising enemies, hacking and other activities gains experience which gradually levels you up. Each level that you gain gives you one Praxis point, which can be used to unlock an augmentation. Unlike Human Revolution, you can quite easily gain enough points to unlock all of the augmentations.

While the actual paying part is no longer present in the PC release, the structure of it still remains. The majority of the weapons available in the game need to be bought from the ingame store, with only a small number available to be found dropped from enemies or behind locked doors. The mobile versions would allow you to spend actual money on these, though here they are simply bought by collecting money from looting enemies and completing missions.

The PC version allows you to play with either mouse and keyboard or a controller, as is to be expected from any modern game. It doesn’t however allow you to remap these controls – I’ve heard some complaints of things not quite being right with the keyboard and mouse layout – but the pad controls are very similar to those of Human Revolution. Because the items, weapons and grenades all have onscreen icons (as you would have tapped them to select) these are all mapped to buttons that are either held down to select or tapped to use. The items and grenades are on the left and right bumpers respectively, which kind of makes them feel like the old item/weapon selection in Metal Gear.

Due to its mobile origins, some of the controls have been simplified a little compared to its bigger brother. Ben can’t jump or sprint like Adam Jensen could, nor does he have quite as much accuracy when it comes to precision aiming with weapons. I actually found using weapons kind of reminiscent of the original Deus Ex.

The credits indicate there is some new music from composer Michael McCann, though for the most part I’m pretty sure it was all from Human Revolution, though it wisely steered away from using the most recognisable themes so mostly avoided sounding like it just uses the same music, a trap Star Wars games used to fall into all the time. The voice acting isn't quite up to the quality of Human Revolution, particularly for background characters. Most of the NPCs will only have a single line, though you don't really need to talk to them.

Visually, it’s mostly quite good. The environments in particular look great, and really manage to capture the feel of its predecessor. Each area is somewhat deserted however, with typically only a handful of people in any given place - I presume this is a leftover of the lower powered devices the game was originally developed for. As is to be expected, everything is drenched in yellow, which for some reason is the colour of everything in Deus Ex now. The character models are less great, with the models for Ben and the Tyrants being fairly detailed (I imagine the Tyrants are using a version of the model from HR) but other NPC characters are much more basic and fairly badly animated. I noticed quite a few textures that were very low resolution as well, though oddly these were usually quite close to ones that weren’t. I imagine it looks even better on a small screen, but at least it isn’t an ugly game.

Much of the interface is very familiar too, with the HUD, augmentations and hacking screens in particular being almost completely unchanged. The hacking minigame still works exactly the same too, so anyone familiar with it will know exactly what to expect.

It also doesn’t feel like the most thorough of ports in some places however. At least one time the onscreen prompts told me to use the virtual thumbstick controls that my PC now apparently has, and some of the elements of the interface such as the weapon select screen could have done with an overhaul to make them more intuitive for a non touch device.

At about 5-6 hours in length, it’s a quite sizable chunk for a mobile game, and comes affordably priced on PC as well. It also has a new game plus mode to add a bit of replayablility, as you’ll require nearly three plays to unlock everything if you’re that way inclined.

If you liked Human Revolution, you’ll almost certainly like this. While it is cut down in a few places from the full game experience, it’s so close that for me it manages to fulfil my need for more, though the to be continued ending does mean that I’m already wanting more again, so hopefully sales have been good enough that we’ll get to see another chapter of Ben Saxon’s journey.