By: Casey Curran
Every now and then a sequel or spin-off comes along that is little more than a watered down version of a past game in the series. Sometimes it loses what made that game special and ends up feeling bland. Other times, however, it proves just how good the source material is, providing a fun experience despite not being on par with past entrants. Deus Ex: The Fall is the latter, providing something not quite as deep as Human Revolution, but a fun game nonetheless.
Anyone familiar with Human Revolution’s PC interface will feel right at home with The Fall. While the level of polish is not quite up to par with the 2011 hit, they otherwise control largely the same, offering far better controls than the iPhone version. The only difference is that due to being a port of an iPhone game, the contextual cues can often be unclear on what button to press, as these initially only required a tap on the touch screen.
As with the controls, The Fall is basically a less polished version of Human Revolution graphically. It retains the stylized, gold-heavy color palette, which helps it stand out from the other shooters on the market, though not quite as impressively as HR. The areas do feel a little more copy and paste than that title as well, particularly later on, which hurts the visuals.
The story, however, is a hollow shell of Human Revolution’s. It centers around two agents hiding from the Illuminati trying to obtain any drugs to fight their bodies rejecting their augmentations. It does not cover augmentation with the same intelligence or depth that HR did, providing a story that neither helps nor hurts the game. Voice acting in this is decent, but none of it stands out.
What caught me by surprise the most about The Fall was how it does not overly focus on the shooting, as, like Human Revolution, stealth is balanced to be an equally viable option. Neither one has a clear cut advantage over the other, each limited by its own unique resources as well as imposing their own dangers. In stealth, getting discovered presents a major problem as you can be caught in a completely unfavorable position. Meanwhile, going the shooter route requires you to constantly be in firefights, which, thanks to a low amount of health, means you need to make a much smarter use of cover than your average shooter.
Exploration remains intact as well. While the areas are not nearly as exciting as in Human Revolution, The Fall holds its own secrets that make going off the beaten path exciting. While the world building secrets do not quite add enough to make finding a document or journal entry a huge reward, tracking down money, experience, and ammo is still satisfying.
The one area where the game does falter is leveling. It feels a little too stripped down to the bare bones, lacking the amount of options from Human Revolution. It does not make up for it by having these feel significant, the same way they felt in Mass Effect 2, either. While there were a few handy upgrades, particularly in the hacking department, most did not make a noticeable enough difference in the gameplay to make leveling up feel particularly compelling.
If you have yet to play a Deus Ex title, I have a hard time recommending The Fall over Human Revolution or the original. If, however, you spent a significant time with the series and are hungry for more, then The Fall will satisfy that desire.