Confession time: when I walked into Square-Enix's E3 booth for a little behind closed doors look at Deus Ex: The Fall, I wasn't prepared to be impressed. Sure, other people on the floor had told me that it was good, even surprisingly so. But then you hear a lot on the show floor - GTA V was definitely coming to next-gen at one point. I had even heard that Microsoft wasn't changing up its DRM plans...
Anyway, turns out that while the above was bullshit, Deus Ex: The Fall is actually quite good. Rather than put the name to some sort of top-down nonsense, or a card fighter with the sort of rules only a Russian chess grandmaster could understand, Square has just made Deus Ex: Human Revolution, on a smaller screen with slightly streamlined mechanics. Lovely.
The demo level confirmed that almost everything in the parent game had been ported nicely. There's still open hubs to navigate, people to talk to, doors to be hacked, and enemies to be cleaved in two with your weird sword-arm-Guyver-thing.
In fact the only thing the game seems to be missing is Adam Jensen himself. Everyone's favourite limb-deficient assassin isn't playable as The Fall takes place concurrently with the events of the console game. As such, players take the role of Ben Saxon, a former SAS soldier now augmented and on the run from the Tyrants (the game takes place after the tie-in novel Deus Ex: Icarus Effect).
Unlike Jensen, Ben's augmentations haven't been fully accepted by his body, and as such he's forced out of hiding to get his hands on more neuropozyne. So essentially he's a highly-skilled, murderous drug addict, forced into confrontation with the Tyrants.
Despite the graphics understandably not having the same sheen as Human Revolution, there's still a lot to be said about Squeenix's efforts. Thanks in part to the distinctive art direction of the parent game - which is kept wholesale: the virtual joysticks are marked by interlocking triangles - The Fall really looks the part. Up close geometry and character models can appear a bit low res, but for the most part this is the Deus Ex style you know and love.
As mentioned, there are small tweaks to gameplay. After dicking around in a hub world - where Saxon failed a hacking task despite the newly added touch controls - I saw a combat scenario. Attempting to break into a fortified compound, I was told that Saxon's pockets are now infinite - there's no briefcase Tetris here. Instead, you can tap and swipe your way through an arsenal of weapons.
Should you use any of these - or the aforementioned CQC takedowns - then bodies will disappear after a while. A concession to the stop-start nature of mobile play, it means players don't have to spend ages hiding bodies when they down opponents. If a camera sweeps the area they're laying in it will still sound the alarm, but otherwise it's as if they're just having a little nap.
In short, it's Deus Ex, but shorter (around 6 hours) and slightly more simplistic. Crucially, though, it appears that none of the good stuff has been touched: exploration, stealth, ruining people's lives with elbow-blades. Control wise the game had a wealth of options, but was shown using virtual joysticks and touch gestures and seemed to work very well. Upgrading your augmentations still plays a large part, although some have been combined or enhanced for this entry.
One potential downer could be the dreaded appearance of in-app purchases, which can be used to buy weapons, Praxis points, ammo and the like. That said, I was told that there's nothing in the game that can't be obtained through actually playing it (albeit over a few playthroughs). We'll have to see, but at the moment Deus Ex: The Fall is one of the most exciting iOS games coming this year.