Game Reviews

MASS EFFECT INFILTRATOR Review: Good looking but firing blanks

Mass Effect Infiltrator is a seemingly perfect fit for my Nexus 7 tablet. It looks great, offers mostly intuitive controls and pushes the boundaries of what we might be used to when it comes to mobile gaming. While much of that is accurate it’s closer to the truth to say that Mass Effect fans will be the true beneficiaries of this new game.

Name: Mass Effect Infiltrator | Developer: Electronic Arts | Category: Action | Players: 1 | Version: 1.0.39 | Size: 450 MB | Price: $6.99 / $6.99 (International Edition) |

For the record, I am not a Mass Effect fan. I have watched all of the games played out in my very own house by my very own super-fan of a wife, so I am pretty familiar with the characters, plot lines and wacky dialogue interactions that are the earmarks of the series. To be honest, I’m not sure why they’re so popular, but I’m not here to debate the qualities of one of the most popular series in gaming history.

Luckily this position gives me an advantage when playing Infiltrator. I can look at it purely from a gaming standpoint without worrying about whether or not I am maximizing my abilities or if the lore of the game sticks out too much. Heck, I was only mildly bothered by the fact that my character was a male by default. Only mildly… and I don’t even run a Mass Effect Tumblr account! I will admit to being a bit mesmerized by the wonderful graphics and performance thanks to the Nexus 7, but the gloss soon grew a bit dull. I’ll tell you why.

The main idea behind Infiltrator (and with the Mass Effect series in general) is to talk a bit, shoot a bit, then talk some more and then shoot some more. Yes, there are decisions to be made and plot lines to explore, — and we all know about the love interests — but in general the Mass Effect series has always been a vehicle for mild shoot outs and intense character development. I’m fine with that, and in many ways I wish I could have experienced more of it. Recognizing this pattern didn’t make playing Infiltrator any more enjoyable, however. I could see when the cut scenes would start, then suddenly I’d be in another firefight. A pop-up would tell me how I did and how many points I had earned, and then the next fight would start after a brief bout of walking. Rinse and repeat.

The control scheme is close to comfortable but I have a feeling that playing Infiltrator was always tuned more to a smaller screen. The seven inch Nexus screen often makes play a bit awkward. When an enemy shows up, a reticule is placed over him. Next, you physically touch the enemy you want to concentrate on, and then you adjust your gun sights for a more accurate shot. It works most of the time but reaching up with a thumb across a seven inch screen quickly became painful.

Luckily I’m a resourceful fellow and found that laying the Nexus on a tabletop while playing with my two index fingers smoothed things out. Well, mostly. There were still the issues with cover to deal with. Cover works when you need cover, but if you find yourself in the middle of a firefight or especially while in melee range it’s easy to accidentally put yourself back into cover. You can knock enemies back to give yourself some breathing room, but you have to watch the animation before you can fire again, often leading to confusing camera twists or the dreaded accidental cover. Cover issues are not as common as it might sound, though. Usually you’ll find yourself picking off enemies from a distance.

As you earn experience and points for combat performance, you can spend these points on upgrades. I generally sucked for the first several fights in the game so was not able to afford any upgrades, but I also stumbled across bits of intel. Intel is essentially a currency that can be transferred to a player’s standard Mass Effect Galactic Readiness score (as long as the player has signed in using an Origin account) or switched into credits. These credits can be used for upgrades within the Infiltrator game. Being that I have no Mass Effect character outside of the one in Infiltrator, I used the credits.

While the combat can often be a bit confusing or glitchy, the graphics in Infiltrator are top-notch. I’m used to the standard sci-fi designs and tough-looking character I played, but it was all drawn together in a pretty seamless fashion. Each combat stage or area was smooth and provided plenty of opportunities for different styles of play. I preferred to use a shotgun up close, sometimes even sneaking up dangerously near enemies when I could have picked them off from afar. The shotgun is just a more satisfying weapon, if not slower.

The steam that pours off of overheating weapons is a nice touch, and gun blasts and effects are all done with a level of quality that you might expect to find on a console or PC version. Sure, there are occasional jagged lines that are a bit of a distraction, but I cannot stop myself from giggling every time I nick-pick such a tiny detail. After all, the rest of the game looks so good.

Good looks, unfortunately, are not enough to make this game a blast. It’s exciting occasionally, frustrating much of the time, and a good work out for your hands. I imagine most players will work through the game to get extra points to transfer to his or her “real” Mass Effect characters, rather than playing it because it is that much fun. To me, Infiltrator feels more like a very nice tech demo than it does an immersive game.

But then again, I’m no Mass Effect fan.

Share This

You Might Also Like