Mass Effect on the 360 (and PC later on) captured the space opera vibe wonderfully introducing the space RPG to the masses and neatly filling a gap in the RPG market. Building upon this success Mass Effect 2 arrived on 360, PS3 and PC to glowing reviews, streamlining the RPG elements and presenting gamers with a genuine Hollywood blockbuster. As players embark on the conclusion to this space saga ‘Jedi’ style with the recent release of Mass Effect 3, EA bring us not one but two iOS apps which directly feed into/influence the ending you experience within the main game (whatever platform you play on as it’s all linked through Origin).
In Mass Effect Infiltrator you play as Randall Ezno, a Cerberus agent with gruff voice and a damn big gun. As a day job he is a bounty hunter whose main tasks involve hunting down random species and bringing them in for all types of grizzly nasty experiments. Not a very nice guy to play as for the duration of the game for sure, but fear not all you paragons out there because after a short period of game time he quickly realises that his job sucks and he’s not that bad a guy after all. Storming into his previous employers he decides to go postal and take some names - this naturally results in an excess amount of shooting from cover.
Shooting from cover of course is by no means a bad thing, especially if it’s executed in a stylish, enjoyable manner. Mass Effect Infiltrator is a gorgeous looking game and a testament to how far mobile gaming has come in just a few years, playing the game on a 4S or ipad2 is a delight and will result in many a stranger peering over your shoulder on the train, hopefully not with the intention of mugging you. Those coming to a Mass Effect game expecting multiple diverse story paths, conversation wheels and game changing decisions will feel short changed as this iOS title is a purely linear experience. As you battle through scripted encounters taking down enemies, jumping from cover to cover you are scored on your ‘level’ performance. Play through the same battle again and it will be identical, there is no clever AI at work here.
Completing each level sees you accrue credits and intel. The credits can be used in game opening up the only real RPG progressive element of the game. Purchasing weapon, biotics and armour bonuses as you move from one battle to the next. The one clever hook included in the title is the intel which can be used to increase your overall galatic readiness rating within ME3 - the option is given to either cash the intel in for in game credits or to upload them via your EA Origin account to your Mass Effect 3 play through. There are no real spoilers here, the higher your readiness percentage within ME 3 the ‘better’ the ending will be - well that’s the theory although there is much controversy surrounding the Mass Effect 3 ending.
Gameplay wise the game struggles to live up to its visuals. The controls work fantastically well when you are dealing with multiple enemies at a distance, however it all becomes rather clunky up close. The ability to gently swipe the screen to move from cover to cover is great in theory and when dealing with a handful of enemies which are some distance from your character it works really well. Tapping to target the enemies and then quickly moving in an FPS style zoom to pull off headshots works really well, however in the heat of an up close battle where cover is key, one misinterpreted swipe will mean a quick and brutal death. Cheap deaths are a natural consequence of the control system and the game has a strong ability to frustrate in places. Out of combat the controls fare no better, with the movement feeling stiff and clunky, all beautifully animated ofcourse but it just doesn’t feel good when controlling your character.
Progression through the campaign to completion clocks in at a very respectable five to six hours but unfortunately this isn’t the joyous five to six hours that it could have been. Recycled environments, clunky up close combats and general repetitiveness set in - to be fair though as it is a mobile app it’s easy to pick up and play in short bursts and this goes some way to removing that feeling of rinse and repeat. It’s a shame that it only lends itself to being played in short bursts as it needs to be replayed multiple times to achieve true greatness and to really max out the intel which feeds into ME3.
Not a breathtaking cover shooter by any stretch and perhaps a little pricey at the £4.99 price point, Mass Effect Infiltrator is a solid, graphically impressive iOS title which will please shooter fans and is yet more content for Mass Effect fans to lap up.
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