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Xbox 360 Review: ‘Deadfall Adventures’

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Fictional adventurer James Lee Quartermain’s starring role occurs in a helpless rut of arduous puzzle execution and derivative mummy slaughter. Made without financial confidence and stitched together with gunky coding, Deadfall Adventure’s ideas are wedged somewhere between Indiana Jones’ mythology and classless Syfy Channel drudgery. Deadfall creates a concept of ice mummies, never once smiling at its conceptual inanity.

That is Quartermain’s problem as well, readily accepting mythological Mayan freak shows and remarking on them with the stunted effect of bad line reading. His disinterested, scruffy facade is an amalgamation of what dapper, ’40s era heroes often were – sans soul or measurable spunk. Joined by a female archaeologist, Quartermain’s scornful sexism is billed as sarcasm; it’s the center of Deadfall’s insufferable fizzled humor.

Plotting lies on a bed of dead Nazis, even if the characters are indifferent to the origins of their foes. Asked who is shooting at them, Quartermain blurts out, “Does it matter?” Apparently not. An infusion of Russian and Arabian antagonists blows by without inserting integral arcs into the narrative. They exist to shoot/be shot.

Deadfall’s third tier villains are light sensitive mummies, the rampaging type with dusty brains whose strategy is to aimlessly jerk forward. Consider them territorial as Quartermain steps into their ancient and trap riddled territory. Mummies work their way into Deadfall’s limber first-person aiming, doing away with precision for gratuitous bullet sprays which mirror gun waggling antics of vintages FPS titles. Point (relatively), shoot, and dead. Human adversaries are demanding, and offer narrow bullet impacts to signal their demise.

Wheel turning, tile matching, and lever pulling bring forth Deadfall’s second half. Puzzle scenarios carry a trifecta of design abuses: shabby texture work obscuring Mayan symbols, exaggerated shadows blotting out solutions, and grinding pace as items slip into position. Quartermain’s grandfather conveniently sleuthed these illogical ancient constructs in a notebook, and even with solutions on screen, it is often not enough to perform as requested in order to gain credit for the solution. Specifically, two side puzzles glitched during the play through, rendering them unsolvable.

Polish developer The Farm 51 break their first-person title into shabby segments of action, exploratory quests, and puzzles – all linearly laid bare – and wasting inexhaustible amounts of digitally flat space. Design is such that players are meant to cruise around wounded ancient landmarks or broken Arctic ice in search of treasures. Jewel adorned statues are fettered away in distant corners, making much of the hunt an aimless bore. Deadfall’s routine landscapes are rotting visually and constrict the frame rate, making the march to find these hidden idols a technically conquering errand.

Unfortunately, hidden objects are essential, bound to leveling Quartermain in six categories. His uber-flashlight, health/stamina, and gunplay can be bolstered as statuettes are uncovered. This means doubling the length of an otherwise four hour quest for the heart of Isis. Deadfall lumbers to its campaign close and anti-climatic plotline culmination.

Tagging along are parched multiplayer lobbies, split across 10 modes with clear ambition to make Deadfall a first-person staple. Gun scraps break speed barriers by zipping at constant sprint, upping pace and nearly salvaging these otherwise squandered World War II era skirmishes.

Deadfall has failed to court players into its ranks despite a repertoire of XP awards and custom loadouts. Instead of leeching onto adventure aspects, The Farm 51 blot their chances as they tote Call of Duty’s functionality over their own identity. There are no produced specialties, laying this property down to sleep as servers churn power to host uninhabited maps. When matchmaking finds another internet soul willing to participate, it never helps to offer even abysmal spawn safety. Spawn trapping is reminiscent of first-generation dial-up based shooters, before design conflicts were solved.

If multiplayer offers anything, it is an escape from Quartermain; lobbies are populated with masked German/Russian/Arabian drones. Quartermain is the bottom tier Indiana Jones, mimicking the hat and relic snatching gusto without proving personable. He is no hero, rather vile and disinterested outside of compensation. Deadfall’s character growth is a clichéd attempt at saving this material, as if to make introductory sequences acceptable. It doesn’t.  Little of this title runs toward acceptability.

Deadfall Adventures is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood, Violence. This game can also be found on: PC.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.