With the recent release of Mass Effect 3, EA Games has created a universal companion game that seeks to deepen the Mass Effect saga while seeking to embed itself into iOS and Android gaming lore with the release of Mass Effect Infiltrator. In recent memory, EA Games has complemented mega-successful consoles games such as the Dead Space franchise by creating its iOS sibling. In fact, the iOS title, Dead Space, embellished the big brother console version's Dead Space 2 storyline and is considered one the best iOS games ever made. Can EA Games leverage this type of success again with Mass Effect Infiltrator?
Titles advertised as a "fast-paced action game" must come loaded with intuitive gameplay that is accessible and user-friendly. Unfortunately, this is the game's biggest stumbling block.
Mass Effect Infiltrator ("ME:I") uses a duck and cover mechanic reminiscent of iOS games such as Shadowgun and Epoch. However, there is a bit of a challenging learning curve that you must play through before muscle-memory kicks in and gameplay becomes more automatic. In fact, I had to go through the tutorial twice before getting the hang of the unique tap-swipe-shoot mechanic. Essentially, when firing at the opposition, players must tap the enemy, aim at a circular target overlaying the baddie, by swiping the screen and locking onto that position until he falls. "Style" points are awarded if you are able to switch weapons in mid-battle while taking down the enemy. There is no traditional virtual joystick or firing button, and this innovative tap-swipe-shoot mechanic takes some getting used to. However, once you get the hang of it, gameplay becomes more intuitive and enjoyable. Just be hunker down with some patient "stick-to-itiveness" and you will be richly rewarded.
I do wish that there were more save points throughout the levels. As I was learning the ropes on how to aim and shoot, I kept getting killed and brought back to the start of the last checkpoint rather than at the spot where I met my unwelcome demise. However, taking enemy fire is a bit forgiving, so you can take more bullets as you learn how to shoot them.
Personally, I prefer the more traditional duck and cover mechanics of the previously mentioned games. They are more intuitive and players can focus on the game rather than get stuck on the top-heavy mechanics. This experience is tantamount to overthinking a process that should be really simple. One can become easily tripped up and complicate something that should be relatively easy. Unfortunately, this is the case with the gameplay of ME:I and could be its singular downfall. The care and feeding that went into this game is obvious. The developers really wanted to do the franchise justice. I just hope that players will be willing to stick it out, learn the ropes and eventually reach gameplay Nirvana by capturing and successfully executing this unique gaming mechanism.
The graphics are GOREGEOUS. From the opening cinematic sequence, your eyes will be experiencing visual gluttony with all the spectacular eye-candy flaunting on the screen. Visually, this game is jaw-droppingly delicious on my iPad 2. I can't imagine what it will look like on the New iPad, but I digress. The graphics and visuals are a testament to how far tablets have come and how powerful they have become. This is one of the games you want to first launch when showing off your iDevice's processing power and graphics engines to your friends.
I really enjoyed the menus tucked away at the corners of the screen, that are easily called up by tapping and dragging inwardly for icons and screen activity reminiscent of those Tom Cruise played with in The Minority Report. You'd be hard-pressed to find more visually stunning graphics for an iOS game than what you'll be setting your eyes on in ME:I.
Audibly, the sounds and soundtrack are on par with the visuals. They perfectly marry both senses together for a power-packed package of digitally-crafted fireworks.
Mass Effect Infiltrator is a worthy companion game to its console sibling. With breath-taking graphics and impressive audio, this game promises to be a sure-fire winner. However, the singular, most vocal criticism being hurled at this title, could be its most daunting obstacle to becoming a resounding fan-favorite for years to come. The tap-swipe-shoot mechanism steals the proverbial thunder as gamers can easily get stuck on the "how to play" aspect of the game rather than just playing the game. For a game, that sends hordes of enemies towards you, the resultant onslaught could land on the wrong side of the battlefield, frustrating gamers who may not be patient enough to learn the curve. Admittedly, I had to run through the tutorial a couple of times before getting a much firmer grasp of the gameplay mechanics. If you're willing to cut your teeth and learn the ropes of this innovative gameplay mechanic, the pay-off will be a satisfyingly rich gaming experience.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Remarkably fabulous Sound: - 5 - Perfectly marries with the high-end graphics Controls: - 3 - Warning, Will Robinson! Challenging learning curve ahead! Gameplay: - 4 - Once you get the hang of the controls, gameplay will be enjoyable. Good replayability. Overall: - 4.25 - If the controls were more accessible, this could easily have been added to the iOS Game Hall of Fame.
Playing Hints and Tips:
* Don't be ashamed to play through the first level. * While I had my volume rocker maxed out for a great audio experience, headphones provides greater immersion.