Monday, November 10, 2014

Deus Ex: The Fall

Deus Ex: The Fall looks deceptively like Human Revolution. However, closer examination and actually playing the game quickly reveals it is no more than a touchscreen port impostor made with the Unity engine. It does not look as good, there does not seem to be a physics engine, and the gameplay does not have all the features you would expect when coming from DX:HR.

The funny thing with a touch interface, though, is that it is much closer to a native mouse interface than one designed for a gamepad can ever be. Buttons and such may be larger thanks to inaccurate fingertips (unless some work has been done for the PC port) but generally the interface works perfectly with a mouse right off the bat. Which is nice.

Not so nice is the lack of buttons on touch devices, which leads to heavily simplified interfaces in games. In The Fall, this is noticeable mainly from the missing ability to aim down sights and jump -- things you would expect a first person shooter to have these days. Also, upon the PC release, the game did not have rebindable keys. They patched that in six months later, which is quite a long time and it could be said that it was too little, too late.

While they were at it, they also removed the horrible zoom in/out effect that was supposed to imitate recoil or something. I am happy I did not have to experience that - an upside of playing games long after their release. Also, surprisingly enough, the game has quicksaving, although there is only one (1) saveslot. Thus one has to be careful when pressing the button lest an unwanted game state gets saved.

The story, its characters, and their voice-acting are not particularly memorable. Not awful, but it feels they tried to copy DX:HR too much and failed to create their own strong characters the game would've needed. (A new David Sarif would have been awesome, for instance.) Also, the story ends abruptly after the first chapter as the game is apparently episodic (no future episodes in sight).

I do not see the word 'episode' on the game's Steam store page. I got it as a part of the Humble Square Enix Bundle, though, so I don't feel exactly cheated there. But they could still mention it is not a full game you are buying.

I was also somewhat bothered by how the protagonist, Ben Saxon, uses mostly the same animations in dialogues as Jensen but then sometimes jumps into one only NPCs in Human Revolution used. Not a huge issue, just something I did not expect to see and what slightly irked me.

The story and characters aside, The Fall has couple bigger problems. The first one is how bodies disappear after a few seconds, with a rather immersion-breaking animation no less. It must be some sort of engine limitation, because there is just no other reason to put something like that in a Deus Ex game. No physics means no dragging of bodies or something.

The other problem is how there are no stores in the game, for you carry the store with you. Need an EMP grenade? Simply open your inventory and buy one! I guess the mobile version had microtransactions in it. The things publishers do in their greediness...

I guess Deus Ex: The Fall tickles that need for more Deus Ex. And that is why I mostly liked playing it. By trying really hard, you can convince yourself it is Human Revolution you are playing. Heck, the game even uses the same soundtrack (I think the club track is the only new one).

I hope the next DX will be a proper game.

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