Today, Square Enix announced a new game in the Deus Ex series. This should be very good news. It has not been received as very good news by lots of people, though. In fact, Square Enix saw fit to move the time of its announcement (and the embargo for when sites were allowed to talk about it) from its original slot to the exact time that all the reviews for The Last of Us went live, almost as if it were trying to bury it.
Perhaps Square was trying to bury it because it began to suspect the announcement would bring in comments like these:
EduardoFedrizzi at Joystiq
"HAHA 'The Fall' is definitely a fitting name for this game."
Fallout at Eurogamer
"I didn't think it'd be so possible to lose interest in this so fast."
Sieroa also at Eurogamer
"Sigh. Here i was waiting for a sequel for Human Revolution."
TheCrimsonFenix at CVG
"This goes up there with most disappointing bulls**t of the year."
Of course, there were more positive comments too, and yet I predicted these responses would come yesterday (just ask Tap!'s editor, Christian).
So what's gone wrong? The timeline starts with the news that Square registered domains relating to title Deus Ex: Human Defiance, which drove speculation that this would be the name of Human Revolution's sequel, though later Square confirmed that it would not be (after using the name for an April Fool, in fact).
But then domains for The Fall were spotted, followed by a five-second teaser trailer yesterday. Now, with Human Revolution being a PC, Mac, PS3, Xbox 360 and soon Wii U game, the natural assumption from many was that the forthcoming game would be the sequel they were hoping for. Some sites knew already that this was not the case, but couldn't say anything. Others, even big sites, didn't know, so inadvertently contributed to the eventual feeling of disappointment: Alec Meer at RockPaperShotgun reluctantly posted the teaser, adding that "a new Deus Ex game is big enough news round these parts that it overwhelms my antipathy towards trailer-for-a-trailer nonsense".
Really, then, disappointment was inevitable for those expecting a full Deus Ex sequel. The fact is that the quality of what was actually announced – an iPad game with a whole new story purporting to offer the full Deus Ex experience – became irrelevant.
Which is a shame, because what Square Enix actually announced is very exciting. I cannot recommend strongly enough that you wait until next week before making any judgements on whether making The Fall as an iOS game is a good idea or not.
The problem is not that The Fall is an iOS game. It's that Square let people think that it wasn't.
Mark Brown of Pocket Gamer says on Twitter: "I think it was a mistake for Square to put an embargo on actual impressions of Deus Ex, so we can't tell you how it feels on a touchscreen. "
Square could have let all the journalists who've already had a chance to try the game at least temper the criticism of 'this kind of game will be rubbish on iPad' with our thoughts on what it's actually like. Instead, we just get to sit here and watch opinion form against it.