Another big name release — another iOS spinoff. It seems like ever since EA got into the mobile game, no franchise stone is left unturned in terms of tapping a mobile team to create a gaiden for it. This month’s model is Mass Effect Inflitrator, an iOS game in honor of Mass Effect 3‘s launch.
You’d expect it to be a cash grab, but you know what? Infiltrator isn’t that bad.
Presented by the same team that gave you Dead Space iOS, Infiltrator is a tenous tie-in to Mass Effect 3′s story. You play as Randall Ezno, a fairly generic Cerberus agent who defects in the name of the galactic alliance. Throughout the game, you’ll be taking out Cerberus from the inside, as well as uploading intel documents to the cause.
Like Dead Space iOS, the game is extremely impressive graphically, to the point where a few years ago, no one would have believed games could look like this on a mobile device.
As you can expect, gameplay is entirely touch-oriented. Movement is handled on the left-hand side of the screen, and aiming is done by touching enemies when they are in view. You can enter cover by swiping towards a wall, and switch cover by swiping over towards other cover.
Unfortunately, the worst part of the controls is the cover system – which as you can imagine is a fairly large part of the game. When “popping out” to shoot an enemy, your character will stand there like an idiot getting shot, unless you swipe down to get back into cover. The main issue is this doesn’t always work, and enemies can often gun you down in less than a second. When you feel like you’ve died because of the controls, it can get pretty maddening – it also doesn’t help that some checkpoints are really far apart.
Like Uncharted 3, there are a small number of completely unfair areas with way too many enemies that will instantly dissolve your health bar. The only real way around this is to slowly cloak and take them out one by one. But what seems like just an effective strategy is actually just plain boring.
As a general rule however, encounters are engaging, as are the boss battles (which are probably the most fun part of the game). When the cover system and the aiming mechanic work, they work well. You’ll be able to pretty easily out-snipe Sniper Cerberus agents, and shotgun down melee troops. The touch interface is excellent in terms of movement and switching out biotics and weapons. The menu screens are also extremely easy to navigate, and are easy on the eyes.
Randall can upgrade pretty much every facet of his combat abilities through the in-game menu at any time – biotics, weapons, armor – you name it. Currency is earned through hidden stashes and through completing stages – and in true EA fashion, you can spend real money via micro-transactions to get ahead (you will NOT need it). Unfortunately, the game doesn’t support Game Center right now (although Dead Space iOS didn’t either, but it was patched in).
A lot of people will be buying Infiltrator for the Mass Effect 3 connectivity. While small, the interconnectity is two-fold. Provided you link your Origin account to both Mass Effect 3 and Infiltrator, you’ll earn anywhere from 10-20% readiness for the main game’s Galaxy at War mode (which helps you earn different endings, and the 100% achievement/trophy).
Also, when you beat the game, you’ll earn a small amount of war assets. It’s not huge, but considering your Galaxy at War percentage lowers every day, it’s a great way to keep your percentage up while you’re away, or at work.
Unless you’re looking to get more mileage out of the “end” of the Mass Effect franchise (for now), I wouldn’t recommend picking up Infiltrator for its current price. Although it offers a decent amount of shooting action, it’s fairly generic, and doesn’t really do anything other than offer a nice time waster for an afternoon.
This review was based on a digital copy of Mass Effect Infiltrator for the iPhone 4.