Mass Effect 3 is, quite possibly, the biggest video game release this year. The game has players glued to their TVs, unable to tear themselves away… until they have to go to work, or school, or someplace (*gasp*) outside. Whatever will the galaxy do without the fearless Commander Shepard to defend it? Mass Effect: Infiltrator has the answer. An iOS game based on the Mass Effect franchise. How could you go wrong with such a game? Unfortunately, Infiltrator does not follow Shepard, instead putting the spotlight on Randall Ezno, a Cerberus Operative gone rogue after they nearly kill him.

From the moment the title screen comes on, you feel like you’re in a Mass Effect game. The sound effects, music and overall style of the game have made it over intact. When you hear doors open, or gunfire, or the music, it takes you right back to the main entries in the series. Where the audio falls short, however, is the voice acting. It’s not bad; but it’s not up to the standard set by the franchise.

This game looks great on the Retina display

The main character is not the only change brought to the iOS incarnation of the franchise. While the console versions of Mass Effect are very heavily character and story-driven, Infiltrator, instead, focuses on the action elements. Story and characters are almost non-existent, which is sure to be a turn off for a lot of the Mass Effect fan base. However, you can collect intel in battles that can be used to boost your galactic readiness rating in Mass Effect 3. The interaction between the mobile game and the new, retail release is interesting, and something that more game developers should look into.

As would be expected from an EA title, the game has exceptional production values. The graphics are top-notch and look amazing on the retina display. Textures are high-resolution, the view distance is long and effects, like flares, abound. Environments aren’t incredibly varied, but what is here is detailed and good-looking, straight out of the Mass Effect universe. The game doesn’t really encourage exploration of environments, however, so most of what you’ll see will be looking down the barrel of a gun.

Paragon/Renegade choices feel tacked on

Paragon and Renegade choices make an appearance in the game as well, but they are not a major factor. They feel tacked on and completely unnecessary, only there for the sake of a bullet point in the app store and not to drive story or character development. You’ll walk into a room with an enemy, and have the option to shoot or spare them. There’s no real benefit to either, other than the Paragon/Renegade choice itself.

Where Infiltrator really shines is the action, and there is a lot of it. Most of the game is spent in firefights, hiding from enemies and popping out from cover to fire. The game has an interesting twist on the third person shooter mechanic on the touch screen: you tap on the enemy and it zooms in, allowing you to fine tune the aiming to hit vulnerable spots. You have multiple weapons, including the assault rifle, shotgun and sniper, each of which have their own strengths. The assault lays down a steady stream of fire, while the shotgun does massive damage with each shot at short range. The sniper rifle can be zoomed in to take out enemies at range.

Another mechanic you will use a lot is biotics, which are probably the most fun part of the game. You can use the pull power to yank multiple enemies into the air, then shoot them down while they’re out of cover. Leash lets you wrap a cord of energy around the necks of an enemies, tossing them around like rag dolls.

Pull is an awesome Biotic ability

While these mechanics could possibly get old on their own, the inclusion of style point bonuses will have you coming back to improve your score. The more enemies that you can take out at a time, the higher your style points, resulting in a larger credit payout at the end of the battle. You can string biotics and shots together to ramp up your combos and rack up the points. Abilities and weapons can be powered up with cash that you collect from battles. You’ll also level up your powers or purchase new abilities in the store to increase your versatility.

Enjoying Infiltrator really depends on your expectations going into the game. If you’re looking for a true Mass Effect experience on the iPhone, this is not it. The RPG elements are light, the story is almost nonexistent and you don’t really have any major choices to make that influence the story. However, as a third-person action shooter, it’s a lot of fun to play. If you’re a die-hard Mass Effect fan, the fact that you can collect intel to use in Mass Effect 3 may be a good reason to pick up the title.

Here’s the Rundown

+ Awesome graphics and sound
+ Fun third person shooter
+ Hooks into the console version of the game
– Not very true to the Mass Effect experience
– Story is nonexistant
– Characters you don’t care about at all

6 and 6.5 represent a game that doesn’t do anything spectacular or drastically fails to meet the high expectations people had for it. These scores are for games that you would only recommend to diehard fans of the series or genre, something that the average gamer wouldn’t miss very much if he/she skipped it. 

Mass Effect Infiltrator was developed by BioWare and published by EA for iOS devices. The game was released on March 6th, 2012 an an MSRP of $6.99.