443676_largerWhen Square Enix announced that the next entry in the highly regarded Deus Ex series would be a mobile-only title, there was a lot of blowback. The original Deus Ex was a landmark PC title back in 2000, both for its immersive atmosphere and game world as well as its emphasis on player choice and branching dialogue paths that could affect how the game played out. Having such a darling in video game's history be relegated to "just a mobile title" left a lot of people pretty darn miffed.

Well, here's the thing: I haven't played any of the previous Deus Ex games (video game blasphemy, I know) and I love mobile games, so I was more than a little excited to check out Deus Ex: The Fall [$4.99] when it hit this week. Not having any previous attachment to the series, I was able to approach The Fall fresh, and I came away with the feeling that this is easily amongst the best first-person shooters on the App Store.

Deus Ex: The Fall, like its predecessors, is a combination of many different genres: first-person shooter, cover-based shooter, role-playing and stealth. Also like previous games in the series, there is a lot of player choice to how you'll experience and play through the game. Dialogue has branching paths, you can choose to be a merciless killer or more of a pacifist, and the story can change based on the choices you make.


The story itself is a bit convoluted and can be hard to follow, possibly less so for people who are intimately familiar with the previous games' storylines. The Fall takes place after the events of 'Deus Ex: Icarus Effect', a novel written as a prequel to 2011's Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and features two of the main characters from the book: Ben Saxson and Anna Kelso. As you might expect for the story in a Deus Ex game, conspiracies, shadowy organizations, double crosses and twists abound.

Let's put the story and connections to previous games aside though, and focus on The Fall as strictly a mobile FPS game. First and foremost I want to talk about the controls. Touch controls for FPS games have come a long way since the iPhone's debut, but even the best implementation of virtual controls don't jive with everybody. I feel like you either click with them and enjoy mobile FPS games, or you don't click with them and avoid the genre altogether. There's usually very little middle ground.

mzl.rrzoiihzFor the folks that do like touchscreen FPS games, The Fall's control scheme is probably the best I've seen on the platform, especially considering all the mechanics it has to cover. Lots of times an FPS will be either tap-to-move and tap-to-target, or a set of virtual analog sticks that are either visually represented with graphics or utilize either side of the touchscreen to achieve the same effect.

Deus Ex: The Fall actually uses both schemes in tandem, to great effect. You can double-tap (or toggle to single-tap in the Options) to move to a location, and tap directly on enemies to target them. However, you also always have full dual-stick style controls at your disposal. This means you can double-tap to start moving to a point in a level, and as you're automatically moving towards that position you can freely aim and fire on enemies. You have a similar benefit when tapping and targeting enemies.

This means that you can focus on one task at a time more efficiently, whereas in a game that uses one or the other of the two control schemes things can be a bit clunky when the action gets hectic. Running to a position while turning and strafing to open fire on some enemies can be tricky, but in The Fall it feels fantastic.

That leads to another thing that Deus Ex: The Fall does well, and that's give the player plenty of options to play the way they wish. You can choose the default tap-to-target or pick an auto-aim option, change tap-to-move to a single tap or just turn it off altogether, or toggle a variety of options for how the camera and movement works in the game.


There are also a set of virtual buttons surrounding the edge of the screen which let you do things like fire your weapon, crouch or stand, toss grenades, and "stick" in and out of cover against walls or barriers. A clever touch-and-hold system is used to give you access to quick slots for items and weapons without cluttering up the screen with more buttons than is necessary. Overall, the controls and HUD system in The Fall feel like the coalescence of all the touch-based schemes that have come in games before it.

That level of customization extends to your actual character, Ben Saxon. Like many of the characters in the Deus Ex universe, Ben is augmented with machinery that gives him some pretty incredible powers, kind of like a cyborg. As you play you'll be able to upgrade and add new features to Ben's body, giving him even more abilities. This is where the RPG element really comes in, as you're able to mold Ben in the direction that suits you best, from a stealthy and tactical assassin to a guns blazin' tank of a man who isn't afraid to blast any enemies that might get in his way.

mzl.uwwnexaxWhile the combat is just one aspect of the overall package in The Fall, it isn't as sharp as it needs to be to be completely successful. As mentioned, you can choose how to deal with combat situations – quietly and non-lethally dispatching your foes or just mowing them down at first sight. Unfortunately, this can be difficult to do with the touch controls in The Fall, and mostly has to do with the cover mechanic.

When stuck against a wall or barrier it can be clunky trying to target and then quietly open fire on an enemy with a silenced weapon or melee move without raising the awareness of others. Attaching and detaching to surfaces just feels a little too stiff, and despite my efforts to be the ninja-like operative I was trying to be, more often than not a confrontation with multiple enemies ended up in an all-out firefight. It's not a game-breaking problem, and you do warm up to the combat system as you go, but the clunkiness can interfere with the specific way you're trying to play Deus Ex which is kind of a letdown.

Visually, The Fall is quite a looker. Its style is reminiscent of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which makes sense as both are close in proximity time-wise. The environments are all quite detailed, though they do tend to feel repetitive during some of the longer levels. If you're the type who likes to fully explore every nook and cranny of a level (I am that type) then you will occasionally be rewarded with an item, an extra bit of story info, or even an alternate path which can give you the jump on a group of enemies or lead to an interesting area.

I could probably just go on and on about Deus Ex: The Fall, but the bottom line for me is that despite a few hiccups here and there it's one of the finest first-person shooters ever released for mobile platforms. It reeks of "console quality" in terms of story, production values and visuals, and it's just straight-up fun to play. If you are a huge Deus Ex nut and are wondering if The Fall lives up to the series' lofty expectations, I don't think I can answer that. However, on its own merits, I've enjoyed just about everything in The Fall from the gameplay to the story and all that's in-between.

One other thing worth mentioning is that Deus Ex: The Fall's story might have been somewhat confusing for me at times, and it looks like there will be more coming to the story in future updates, but I'm definitely excited to go back and dive into the first three Deus Ex games and even the novels now. The universe is so rich, and there's so many little details to find throughout the journey in The Fall, I can really see why the series has such a rabid fan base. I think The Fall will be my gateway drug into the world of Deus Ex, and I'm stoked about that.

If you're like me and aren't up to snuff with your knowledge of previous Deus Ex games and are worried if you'll be able to get enjoyment out of The Fall, I think that you will. I certainly have. If you're a Deus Ex fan who was upset that the new game is mobile only, I still think it's worth giving a chance, and you might be pleasantly surprised. Impressions in our forums have been overwhelmingly positive, and for all future top-tier action games on iOS, the bar has been set high with the release of Deus Ex: The Fall.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Louis Ace

    Controls are a little clunky

    • dribblejam

      I don't know what you're playing then:p but I think the transition from going on a wall and going away could use a little work.

      • Louis Ace


      • http://ask.fm/MidianGTX MidianGTX

        Sounds like you know exactly what he's playing.

  • chinito77

    Looks good but are FPS the only kinds of games to show off the iPhone/iPad capabilities? I'll take a wait and see approach with this. Does it support Airplay?

    • sbnewsom

      Wait what?!? There are more non-fps than fps on iOS.

    • Adams Immersive

      Be warned that Airplay always carries some lag (and even a wired Lightning connection has a little) so don't get your hopes up too much. The lag is noticeable in some genres more than others.

  • garret44

    I think it's absolutely incredible that all these console quality games are coming to ios, and this game has got my interest.

    It's just that I haven't played the previous games and I haven't heard about the length, although I've heard it might be episodic which makes me wonder size and price of future episodes.

  • J0n072295

    Sucks that iPad 2 users are stuck waiting indefinitely until they add iPad 2 support, what a shame, I really wanted to play this.

    • riChchestMat

      I think this is the first game to require a 3 or above. I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner. The main issue for me is that as an owner of a 2 I don't want the bulk of the 3 or 4. The 5 is long overdue and I hope to see that before the end of the year. Ultimately I didn't expect 2 support to be dropped until the 5 was ready.

      • goatwarrior

        I'm surprised that it supports the mini but not the ipad 2.

      • LOLCAT

        Well...the mini is newer, despite being less technologically powerful than the 3 or 4

    • http://tarasis.net/ Robert McGovern

      A SE employee has said it's coming to ipad 2 in coming weeks.

    • Reignmaker

      How old is the iPad 2? Like two and half years old? Wow, what a fast shelf life.

      • Morgan01

        That was about the time they stooped writing updates for my iPad 1, just over 2 years.

    • codename_grey

      It won't take long to support it, it's a large penetration device

      • Tizz986

        That's what she said

  • Taclys

    Just downloaded, it looks great so far. Controls are a tad clunky for me, I'll get used to them though and rummage through the settings. I love the art style, and the graphics are top notch. Once again, not infinity blade, but pretty darn awesome.

  • rodgerodger

    As someone who loves DE: Human Revolution, I'm left disappointed with The Fall so far. It's not a bad game, but not great either. Plus it just pales in comparison to HR.

    I'm not "upset" this is mobile. I'm all for it, but that doesn't mean I have to like The Fall either. People keep saying how this is "console" quality, but then say its unfair to compare to HR. Which is it?

    I think people see the shiny graphics and slick polish so then overlook the ho-hum gameplay underneath.

    • codename_grey

      Do you not think perhaps you're comparing it a little bit too much to its console/pc cousin? For the platform they've released it on and the scale they've achieved, in the time frame they've done it in (which pales in comparison to what HR had) i feel they did a decent job at bringing another instalment to the Deus universe.. The gameplay might not match HR blow for blow, but for a title that you can fire up on the tube on the way to the office, it has more than enough to keep the core fans happy, at least that's what I've seem so far.

    • http://www.appfreakblog.com appfreak

      Seeing the type of "genre adaptations" from Gameloft of big console titles, this is absolutely fantastic (see Arkham City and Gameloft's The Knight Rises)

      The gameplay style is brought genuinely without major compromises. The bad part are the poor character models, repetitive missions and crappy cover controls

  • jeffyg3

    I was disappointed when I read iPad 3 and above and then it said iPad Mini works and then I was like hell yeah! Hmmm, I wonder why this game would work on my iPad Mini and not an iPad 2 seeing how it has practically the same components in a smaller package with the addeded LTE and better camera.

    • Stéphane Lachance

      Someone from Square has already announced that iPad 2 support is coming. I might get the game when it finally does come...


    Spot on review Jared!

  • hourglass

    Fantastic game. I use a fully upgraded pistol most of the time, since the other guns aren't as good.

  • Adams Immersive

    FPS games are my #1 genre (usually on Mac), but iPad has become my #1 platform. Always happy to see them combined!

    I insist on the direct aiming offered by a mouse. (Not the indirect aiming of a console joystick which requires auto-aim to make up for its lack of precision.) In recent years, trackpads have come to be precise enough to do the job too (although I personally like to program a zillion mouse buttons, so I use the trackpad only for certain shooters/mods).

    And if trackpads have the precision to beat a console, then trackpad-style aiming on a touchscreen can be just as good.

    As a result, I find the best FPS controls on iPad to be superior to console controls by a mile. Granted, a console will have somewhat better walking/jumping/misc. buttons, but the iPad can offer superior direct aiming, and that supersedes all other factors for me. (PC/Mac with mouse remains the FPS ideal--IF you happen to have one with you. I like a gamepad in the left hand to replace the painful keyboard though.)

    I do realize that people who play console FPS games get used to them and have tons of fun... but I don't like auto-aim and I don't like indirect control. It's like the difference between a Thinkpad "red nubbin" pointing device vs. a trackpad: there's a reason that trackpads took off for aiming a cursor.

    • BulkSlash

      I agree, I find aiming with a touch screen to be very accurate and more effective than a console analogue stick (although in fairness to consoles I think half the problem is the huge dead zones developers seem to pick).

      I know for a fact I get better steering and aiming controls out of Vice City on iOS than I ever did using the PS2's analogue sticks for example.

      It's quite an annoyance to me that touch controls so often get dismissed as rubbish these days when there are so many examples of good touch screen controls. Sure buttons will always be best for some things but it doesn't mean it's not possible to create a great FPS or racing game on a touch screen.

  • icepulse

    All I can say is this: DE:TF is the first iPhone game that I find myself THINKING about loading up, every hour or so. I'm the type that gets easily hyped up for a big release (Warhammer Quest, Talisman, Sorcery, etc.), then just as quickly forgets it, once DL'd. This one is different. It helps that I'm a DE fan from all the way back. But I'm also a first-gen Xcom fan, and the ios port is collecting virtual dust right now on my iP5.

    The lightning fast, save anywhere functionality really helps keep me interested in quick-burst sessions.

    I love this app.

  • Aaron

    Does anyone know if it has GameCenter achievements?


      Yep! 28 achievements.

      • Aaron

        Glad to hear!

  • Guest

    Anyone know if the game has achievements?

  • tommet

    Shocked they supported iPad mini but not iPad 2. I wanted to purchase this in part to show support for non-paymium models and AAA releases. Oh well, I guess they won't get my money for a while.

  • TexasBornG

    Just beat the whole game took about 5 hours or so the game is very well made i loved it. After beating it you have a option to start over fresh or start new game with the Augs and weapons already bought. One of the best games for iOS.

    • Reignmaker

      I know it's understandably linear when compared to most DE games, but do you think you could see yourself playing through it a second time? Are the choices still varied enough that you'd have a difference experience?

      • hourglass

        I've played through a few times, and the Praxis points are really starting to stack up. I was fully upgraded halfway through the second play through, but I still play it a lot.

  • Samuel Strickland

    If you want to use ONLY tap to move and tap to target can you hide the virtual controls?

    • Lazyninja7

      It's a choice to have the joystick visible or not, and targeting really isn't necessary unless you don't have very good aim 😛

  • TexasBornG

    Yeah you can use joystick or invisible

  • Ryan

    It seems the devs have attempted to block jailbroken users from playing by not letting you shoot your gun (whenever you try it says jailbroken users can't shoot, which is ridiculous), I bought the game legitimately and it irks me when devs do this as they are basically stealing my money.I got around it by downloading Xcon on the Cydia store, so anyone else with the same problem do that. A big middle finger to Square Enix as well, not all jailbroken users are pirates, stop treating us like them...

    • shaver

      I work on a very widely-used iOS app, and we routinely hit bugs that only happen on (some) jailbroken devices. I wouldn't assume malice here.

      • Ryan

        I would agree with you if they wrote in the description that jb devices weren't supported and immediately closed the app when it started or something. Instead they don't warn you at all, wait until you beat the first part of the game and think everything's fine, then the second you try to shoot a message pops up saying "Sorry, jailbroken users can't shoot". Sounds like malice to me.

    • Evania

      I always go to AppsGoer for first-hand reviews when some promising games are released, because they are fast and professional.

    • http://www.nogunarmy.com/ monstrinho

      i have a jailbroken device purely because apple put a password on the restrictions (so i could not delete any apps)when i upgraded from iphone 3 to 4s. The literal only way to reset the password was to jailbreak the phone. if i could be bothered to work out how, i would unjailbreak it.

  • grits

    I started using my index finger to look around and my thumb to shoot. This allows for more precision aiming and shooting. Jared have you tried that?
    I love the fact that you can customize the HUD. This allows for said control method.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      I actually play most "dual thumb" games with my left thumb and my right index finger. It probably looks awkward to other people but it feels really comfortable.

  • Mister Bump

    Nah. 5/10 from Eurogamer. No offence guys, but I know who I trust more - do you even rate games less than 3/5? 😉

    • http://tarasis.net/ Robert McGovern

      Well having played DE:TF myself I think the rating Eurogamer gave it is bollocks. For me it's easily more a 7 or 8 aka Good or Very Good.

      Admittedly I'm not a paid reviewer but I play iOS games, Xbox games, PC games and have played Deus Ex before.

      • BulkSlash

        Yeah Eurogamer's review is nonsense. I think they're just pandering to their key audience. I've been playing games since the NES and there's nothing wrong with touch screen games when done properly. I don't think Eurogamer's readers are ready to hear that yet...

      • Stranded87

        Did you even read the review? They actually praised the controls for the most part. Their complaints were more about the level design, story and mechanics paling in comparison to proper Deus Ex games- which they quite possibly do. Also Eurogamer use the full review scale, so a 5/10 from them is roughly a 3 or 3.5 out of 5 on here.

      • BulkSlash

        I did read the review, but I was mainly talking about EG's audience. Just read the comments on there, it's full of people who clearly have a problem with touch games and iOS. That's who the review was pandering to.

        I'm not sure it's relevant to compare the review scores, just read both reviews and you can see the tone between them is totally different.

        As for Eurogamer claiming the level design, story and mechanics are simpler, I'm not sure I agree. The vast majority of features from the main game are represented here. That said, it's a £4.99 mobile game, not a AAA console release so there are bound to be a few short-comings. That N-Fusion were able to include the vast majority of the features that were in the full game is very impressive IMHO.

      • grits

        5/10 Should be equivalent to 2.5

      • Stranded87

        That's my point. Most sites (Toucharcade included imo) don't really use the full scale, so an average game tends to get a 6 or 7 out of 10 while a bad game will rarely get less than a 3 or 4. Eurogamer actually use the scale as it logically should be used- so a 5 from them is better than a five from most places.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      Oh shit. I didn't realize that one person from a completely different website was the only person able to have a valid opinion about this game. My bad.

    • http://www.appfreakblog.com appfreak

      The thing is that the parts where The Fall shines are inevitably borrowed from Human Revolution. The setting, art style, universe are a continuation from the rest of the franchise. If you played it like Jared, unaware of the other games, you would rate those areas highly too

  • tinkie277

    I honestly can't wait to try this game, I running out of cash quick mind, after buying X-Com, I still have this and Colin Mcrae, plus The Walking Dead 400 days is imminent! The App Store is certainly sucking up my wages 🙂 but as most people, including myself, we are happy that devs are finally pulling their fingers out and supplying games for hardcore gamers.... I depend upon my portable games these days as since working I just don't have the time to fire up my tv/console, so doing bits here and there gives me the fix I need.... I just hope and prey that devs bring in iCloud saves on all releases so I can add and remove games without the risk of losing the save.

    • tinkie277

      I aren't eating this week but bought all 3 today... Now that's hardcore.

  • Phill

    High profile game reviewed highly on TouchArcade? NO WAY!

    I give them 3 days max before the full page ads appear.

  • http://www.kizi10.info/ Kizi 10

    This is what I've been looking for.

  • daftman

    The game description suggests using at least an iPhone 4S. Has anyone tried it on a plain ol' 4? I loved Human Revolution and really want to play this but I don't want to invest the money and space if it isn't going to run well :/

  • apolloa

    I'm patiently waiting for the 'coming soon' Android version, purely because I want to play this on my Nexus 7 screen rather than my iPhone 5 screen. Still good to see the game has got positive reception. Was worried how it would turn out.

  • http://www.yepi10.net/ yepi 10

    i like game online! look is very animals

  • Tomate Diseño

    I think it's a shame they took the route of emulating an experience best suited to a different platform. I'd love to have seen something different, better suited to a touch device rather than shoehorning in an FPS which - lets face it - will NEVER work as well as it does with an external controller.

    • grits

      They could've gone a different route but it is impressive to see how much they can cram into the touch screen controls. iOS is still going through growing pains. I think this game is an important step towards its future.

    • tinkie277

      I think fps work well on touch devices, is it just me that thinks this? It's nice to finally have some quality fps being released, this and rainbow six are quality fps titles.

      • Tomate Diseño

        Certainly can't say it's only you, otherwise nobody would be making them, but I find them unplayable or at the very best not nearly as enjoyable to play as their console/PC counterparts. Likesay - for me why try to shoehorn an elephant into stilettos when it needs a pair of wellies.

      • Lazyninja7

        They are hard to play at first, but once you get used to them, they can be INCREDIBLY smooth and precise. A good example of that is MC2

  • Reignmaker

    I'm a little suspicious of this automatic good rating. I mean, didn't Star Command get 4.5 stars from TA on day one also?

    • mantenner

      Star command was great, of course it got 4.5!

      • Reignmaker

        Great if you enjoy doing the same thing over and over again. One strategy fits all.

  • Reignmaker

    DOOM is still the greatest FPS ever. On iPad, iPhone, or any other platform.

  • Dams

    TA : 4.5/5
    The Verge: "Technical marvel but a mediocre game"

    That's when i start to think that TA review are not as reliable than before...

  • NPeart

    Touch screen aiming is better than last gen controllers, but I WOULD LOVE TO SEE THEM SUPPORTED BY GYRO AIMING!!!

  • mutts

    Might be nice if there was any mention of the game not working for ipad 2.
    Although support for it is coming. Same goes for iPhone 4!

  • tarek

    Is this a long game or a relatively short experience? I'm thinking is it closer in length to say KOTOR (very long) or Mass Effect Inflitrator (short-medium)?

    • hourglass

      It's pretty short, but it's very open. You can play it different ways; some ways take longer than others.

  • Evania

    I loved all the lore and exploring. Various emails, voice recordings, and eBooks reveal lots of details about the world of Deus Ex and it’s really rewarding to piece the bits together to get some insight on the game’s mysteries. AppsGoer has got an in-depth review on this game!

  • http://wwww.minecraftchannel.net/ Minecraft

    This is great, it is a great convenience.

  • dogar

    Ipad 2 support is coming soon

  • http://www.yepi2.co/ yepi

    game help people end stress, i so like play game

  • gamergutz

    If you love Deus Ex on consoles then you'll love Deus Ex on iOS.

    • themostunclean

      Actually Deus Ex (HR, not the originals) on consoles bored me to tears. I'm loving it on iOS though!!

  • BobCat5142

    I love the game but its way too short!

    • Reignmaker

      Can anyone tell me how to give items to people? Whenever I try to give Anna the medicine by clicking the pills I just consume the pills. When I click her NPC, she just sits there uselessly. When I attempt to drag the pills to her nothing happens. Doesn't seem like it's supposed to be this complicated.

  • rabidnz

    Console quality = shit

  • pauldavidmerritt

    How does this sound:

    For cover tactics, when in the vicinity of a cover object, double-tap and hold on the 'move' v-pad. Keep holding down until you are ready to stand out of cover. Under fire immediately and quickly change your mind? Double-tap and hold again to get back behind cover in a hurry, steady to aim.

    All of that control work would probably go by so quickly and easily, making the controls more smooth in general. Plus, you have one less button on the screen for gamers to visually behold the fantastic imagination behind the title.

Deus Ex: The Fall Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 4.5