Nothing has been more disruptive to the video game industry than Apple's devices. In a few short years, the iPhone and iPad have transformed the field, making giants out of small studios and altering the future of longtime publishers. The handhelds have thrived on casual players, but that popularity hasn't translated to the core gamers who fuel the market and set trends.
That's changing as the big studios come around and make games for the systems. 2K Games and Firaxis made a huge splash by putting "XCOM: Enemy Unknown" on iOS devices. It was a major feat putting a nearly complete console title on the small screen. Now Square Enix is attempting the same trick with "Deus Ex: The Fall."
It's a stand-alone title, but this spinoff retains much of the DNA from its 2011 revamp. Players take on the role of Ben Saxon, an employee of a private military corporation, who is recruited into an elite commando team called the Tyrants. What seems like a step up is anything but after some shocking revelations. Saxon soon flees the secretive organization.
A major part of this chapter takes place in Costa Rica as the protagonist and his partner, Anna Kelso, lie low and try to survive. Eidos Montreal and N-Fusion did a solid job of making the game look and feel like its console predecessor. The color palette of orange and brown echoes "Deus Ex: Human Revolution," and the team installed role-playing game mechanics such as the leveling system that unlocks Ben's cybernetics and the dialogue system that helps players avoid a fight and take on missions.
The game works great if players focus on stealth. The levels are smartly designed with multiple layers, and sneaking around is fairly easy. The big problem is when players are spotted and a gunfight ensues. That's when the limits and flaws of the device and gameplay are painfully exposed.
Like its console counterpart, "The Fall" is experienced in first person, but touch-screen devices are terrible when it comes to targeting an enemy and shooting them. There's not much precision. The buttons are all over the place and switching weapons is complicated. The developers took a simple interface and horrifically jammed FPS controls on it. The result is an unwieldy mess.
To make matters worse, "The Fall" has bugs and sloppy details, so it pays to save often. Players never know when they'll fall through the floor and die. Sometimes the title just crashes. And don't get me started on the cliffhanger conclusion that hints at another chapter of an incomplete adventure.
Despite its flaws, gamers should give the team credit for attempting this. It's a decent try at making a deep game for iOS devices. Unfortunately, the team clung too close to a source that didn't translate well on the iPad and iPhone.
Platforms: iPad, iPhone
Rating: 17 and up (Apple has it own rating system)