Mobile review: Deus Ex: The Fall

Square Enix and Eidos Montreal surprised fans when they first announced that Deus Ex: The Fall would be coming to iTouch devices. Skepticism arose from whether a touch-screen tablet could handle the franchise's deep FPS mechanics. While Square Enix and mobile developer N-Fusion do manage to harness much of what made Deus Ex: Human Revolution great, the inherent limitations of iOS prevent The Fall from reaching greatness.

Deus Ex: The Fall is a side story that takes place during the events of Human Revolution, with players taking the role of former Special Air Service agent Ben Saxon. Saxon has defected from the SAS and is investigating a shortage of Neuropozyne, the drug of choice for augmented humans, while also evading the Tyrants, who killed his team.

Choice remains a central aspect of the game. Players can run through levels with guns blazing or attempt non-lethal stealthy playthroughs. Dialogue choices are also sprinkled about, as Saxson interacts with The Fall's characters.

While The Fall may look like a Deus Ex game, the controls don't make it easy to play. Players can move either with a double-tap or by using virtual dual-stick controls. The end result, unsurprisingly, is shooting that feels clunky. I found myself accidentally shooting a wall behind an enemy more often than not. Takedowns are similarly frustrating, as it requires waiting for a pop-up prompt to appear near the center of the screen, which becomes increasingly difficult to hit as you're actively trying to sneak up on a moving opponent.

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Touch does offer its moments, however. Hacking minigames are very intuitive, as they require players to simply escort blue nodes to green nodes by tapping on bridging sections. The challenge increases once the network starts trying to boot you and some of the terminals can become borderline-unbeatable, which is why it's always wise to keep an autohacking device handy. Touch controls also make inventory/augmentation management simple and intuitive, with responsive pull-down menus and reload functions readily available.

It's admirable what Deus Ex: The Fall tried to create: a console-quality FPS on Apple's line of devices. And for the most part, it looks and feels like a Deus Ex game. Stages, cutscenes, and visuals are on par with those of Human Revolution. Unfortunately, I couldn't put aside how clunky the controls feel without a controller or mouse/keyboard. Deus Ex fans will love this side story, which comes in at about 3-4 hours. Even after finishing the main game, players can keep going with New Game+ to try and approach the story from a different angle. But I'm sorry to say, the touch controls could definitely use some augmentation. [4]

Deus Ex: The Fall is now available on the iTunes App Store for $6.99. The game is playable on iPad 3 and above, iPad Mini, iPhone 4S and above, iPod Touch 5 and above.