When we heard Square Enix were releasing a mobile Human Revolution spin-off, we expected a lazy shooting gallery with reused assets. But we were surprised to discover that The Fall feels more like DLC for Eidos Montreal's gold-coloured prequel. There's a new hub city that's packed with side missions, NPCs, vents, and back alleys, a new hero, and a new story set before the events of the main game.
You are Ben Saxon, a gravel-voiced English mercenary who finds himself working for the Tyrants, the paramilitary group that invades Sarif Industries at the beginning of Adam Jensen's story. A worldwide shortage of Neuropozyne - the drug that keeps augmented peoples' bodies from rejecting their mechanical implants - has forced him to look for alternatives, and paying work, in the seedy underbelly of Panama City.
During the promotion of Human Revolution, the developers told us that a city hub was cut. Could this be it? Futuristic Panama is beautifully realised, and feels only slightly smaller in scale compared to Hengsha and Detroit. There's a downtown area dominated by neon billboards and towering skyscrapers, a dingy slum ruled by gangs and drug lords, and a boardwalk shopping district near a shimmering ocean.
But while it has everything the main game has - augmentations, weapon customisation, freedom to use stealth or direct combat, branching dialogue, computers to hack, moral choices - it's all hindered by the touchscreen controls. Movement is sluggish, and the twitchy camera and unreliable lock-on make combat feel laboured and unresponsive. Stealth in Deus Ex requires a level of finesse that these ungainly controls simply don't provide.
A few touchscreen features have been added to make navigation easier. You snap to cover by tapping it, and can move Ben around by tapping where you want him to walk to. But mainly you'll be playing the game like a traditional FPS, using your left thumb to move with a virtual stick, and your right to position the camera. Augmentations and weapons are accessed from menus you pull down with your finger, which actually works really well.
There's about five hours of game here, or three if you don't pursue the numerous optional missions on offer. For us, the best thing about this spin-off is returning to Human Revolution's universe. It's one of our favourite game worlds, and the high production values and beautiful environment design in The Fall are as good as anything in the main game. So good, in fact, that we wonder if - and hope that - Square Enix will release it as PC/console DLC.
A welcome return to the world of Human Revolution, marred by awkward touch controls.
- Large city hub
- Feels like Deus Ex
- Clumsy controls
- Crashes, a lot