The other day, in preparation for the eventual release of Deus Ex: Mankind Divide, I completed my fifth playthrough of Human Revolution. Once I was finished, I noticed that, amidst various other unplayed games in my Steam library, there sat my copy of Deus Ex: The Fall which I realized I had not played. I quickly Googled the title and on the Wikipedia page, found a few choice comments from reviewers:
Don’t be fooled by the black-andgold screenshots and the familiar interface: this is not the Deus Ex you know and love. It’s a bad cover version, and truly one of the worst PC ports I’ve played in some time, and I’ve played Deadly Premonition. I definitely didn’t ask for this. -Andy Kelly (PC Gamer)
The controls are another culprit here; they are clunky and unresponsive in ways that a keyboard and mouse never should be. Menu buttons routinely fail to respond to repeated mouse clicks. -Daniel Hindes (Gamespot)
After reading the comments, I decided to play it. After completing the game (yes, I did search every nook and crany) I’m here to tell you one thing: all those negative reviews are wrong. While not Human Revolution quality, Deus Ex: The Fall was, for a game ported from mobile devices in a short time-span, very solid.
Before continuing, however, it must be added that this post obviously deviates from my typical genre and if you are not a fan of video game reviews, you ought to skip this post. For all else: my reasoning and concluding thoughts will be after the jump!
(There will obviously be spoilers)
Deus Ex: The Fall tells the story of Ben Saxon, a British soldier who’s squad died in a sabotaged mission and who was recruited into the Tyrants (Jaron Namir‘s gang of baddies that you end up fighting in Human Revolution), and Anna Kelso, an enigmatic former US Secret Service agent who survives a massacre and, in searching for the killers, loses her job and is on the run from the Tyrants. Saxon and Kelso, on the run from the Tyrants, are hiding out in a safehouse when the effects of the 2027 neuropozyne (Nu-Poz) shortage become too much and Saxon must find more Nu-Poz for him and Kelso. Along the way, Saxon finds that there is an alternative to Nu-Poz: Riezene. Riezene appears to function just as well, but hasn’t been approved yet. During Saxon’s investigation, he is required to complete various quests from a doctor at a local LIMB clinic to find out how the Riezene is getting on the streets. Saxon finds out that the company developing Riezene, Zaaphire Biotech, is leaking the drug an the victims from overdoses and “street trials” are sold to Belltower. After witnessing the assassination of a WHO investigator by Saxon’s supposedly dead squadmate, Sam Duarte, he bugs out and meets up with rouge Belltower VTOL pilot Alex Vega. After clearing her takeoff, they leave Panama City and head to Zaaphire Biotech’s headquarters in Australia while Kelso hides and helps from afar.
The game ends with Duarte and Jaron Namir apologizing to Bob Page for failing to kill Saxon and Kelso. Duarte vows to kill the rogue Tyrant before he can cause any more trouble. The screen then cuts to a “To be continued” card, hinting at another game starring the couple. (x)
Pros and Cons
I played the game for a solid 5 hours; not as much as some, but more than others. After my game play, I have compiled the following list of pros and cons…we’ll start with cons first.
- Sub-par combat mechanics — can’t aim down sights, limited weapon choice, when in cover can’t draw weapon without firing, etc.
- Not optimized for PC — terrible character models, can’t jump, taking cover is a pain, no difficulty setting, reload animations are laughable, etc.
- Glitches — falling through the floor into the abyss, takedowns place NPCs in walls where they can’t be accessed, etc.
- Most of the mechanics — hacking is terrible, AI is predictable, etc.
- Story line parallels Human Revolution’s, story stays engaging, questions remain and compartmentalization of knowledge stays true to DX’s history, etc. (More on this later)
- Character development and interaction is nuanced and waiting to be fleshed out in a sequel
I’m sure there are others, but I wanted to make a relatively short list because, let’s all agree, the mechanics are very sub-par and I won’t dispute that. I, however, want to focus on the mechanics being solid for a quick port as well as the engaging storyline.
Why I Can Deal With The Mechanics
Deus Ex: The Fall was originally released for iOS and Android before making its way to the PC. This meant that the controls were programmed for the god-awful “console” that is the iPhone. After that, they were slightly tweaked for Android, but could largely remain unchanged. Following that, the game was rush-released for the PC giving very little time for extensive overhaul. How can I tell this? The iOS release was on 7/11/13. The Android release was 6 months later on 1/22/14…and the PC release was not even 2 months later when it became available on 3/18/14! The developers had half a year to optimize the game for Android and then less than 2 months to change everything for the PC release.
The timeframe alone doesn’t excuse the mechanics, but it does make me sympathetic and with the strong story, I am confident in saying that the quick port was solid for what it was. It was never meant to be a Human Revolution; most likely it was a side project by the developers that turned into a fun game.
This is where I think the game really excels and where I am willing to say that I want a sequel. The story leaves us with questions that need answers. Why is Zaaphire leaking the drug? What is Belltower doing with the victims? How did Sam survive the ambush? Was Sam a part of the Tyrants before the ambush? Why do the Tyrants report to Bob Page? How does the Nu-Poz shortage and Saxon’s rampage affect the canon of Human Revolution? What happens to Kelso? Where does Vega go? I could keep going, but I’m sure you get the idea.
The point is, The Fall is akin to the first Detroit visit in Human Revolution — the player is left with questions that are slowly answered in coming levels — the issue, however, is where Human Revolution continued, The Fall has died.
I say, make a sequel to The Fall and release it between now and when Mankind Divided comes out! That will satisfy fans and keep the buzz alive. Remember, you #cantkillprogress!