Don’t be surprised to see many places misspelling The Farm 51’s newest title upon release to Dreadful Adventures - it’s a much more appropriate name for this generic action-adventure game. Scathing remark aside though, Deadfall certainly has some good ideas, but they’re lost beneath a tidal wave of mediocrity and poor design.
For anyone familiar with H. Rider Haggard’s Allan Quatermain character, Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic book series, or the 2003 film of the same name; Deadfall Adventures follows protagonist James Lee Quatermain - great-grandson of the legendary Allan Quatermain and star of the above mentioned series - on his journey to retrieve the Heart of Atlantis.
The ancient treasure’s power hasn’t gone unnoticed either, and in true Indiana Jones style, a group of Nazis are also seeking the artifact for their own gain. Oh, and a group of USSR and arab soldiers turn up out of the blue too, replacing the Third Reich soldiers once you’ve killed them all.
So off you go into the desert to search for the first piece of the Heart, followed closely by the very unfunny and annoying Jen Goodwin - the woman who hired you. The Farm 51 wisely started Deadfall by showing off its strongest asset (treasure hunting), because had we known what came afterwards, we probably would have turned heel and run in the opposite direction.
Each of the several levels spread across the campaign are littered with three types of loot to plunder. Most of them are concealed behind some simple but fun puzzles, whilst others are shoved away in a dark corner where you’re never going to look. Quatermain has a compass though, which detects treasure more accurately the closer he gets to it. They’re worth collecting too, because they’re the only way you can level up your basic skill-trees. It’s a great way to incentivise players to explore, it’s just a shame that the upgrades are not very interesting or necessary.
In-between exploring forgotten tombs and solving puzzles, you’ll either be watching a cutscene - which features some of the worst voice acting in recent memory - or you’ll be dabbling in combat. As it’s set in 1938, Deadfall features all the weaponry you’d find in an earlier iteration of Call of Duty but it won’t play anywhere near as well. Firefights aren’t dull - the weapons are varied, and aiming down the sights with twin revolvers is a nice touch - but the combination of thick-as-a-plank AI and frequent frame-rate drops means your enjoyment of killing grunts is going to be rather limited.
Around halfway through the story, you’ll start encountering zombified remains in the Mayan ruins you’ve found yourself in. They form the tactical side of combat, and by tactical, we mean using a flashlight to weaken them before you dispatch them with bullets. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the mechanic is a first-person version of the mechanic seen in Remedy’s Alan Wake.
But Deadfall’s derivative nature isn’t what makes the game not much fun to play - it’s the bugs that lurk around every corner; metaphorically of course. The most irritating of these is the apparent lack of control Quatermain has over his body. Aiming sensitivity is erratic at best, with each direction on the analog stick having different speeds. Throw in the sudden inability to change weapons and getting stuck in invisible walls and you have an A* recipe for disaster.
However irritating they may be, none of the bugs are game breaking, and you’ll still be able to finish the campaign in several hours - if you want to. The usual replay value is there in the form of a survival mode and the standard FPS multiplayer modes. The Farm 51 have attempted to appeal to the modern FPS generation by implementing killstreak rewards and a commendable amount of different game modes, but for a game that has weak combat, you have to ask yourself if it’s really worth it.
We wouldn’t recommend that you stay away from Deadfall, but it’s hard to recommend it too, especially as everything it features has already been done better elsewhere; and with the Christmas period coming up, saving your cash may end up being the wiser option.
Deadfall Adventures (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
Whilst it has some excellent exploration and puzzle segments, Deadfall Adventures is marred by its mediocre combat, frequent bugs and a story that struggles to keep the player engaged.