Mass Effect Infiltrator brings EA’s popular sci-fi franchise to iOS for the second time

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By Pete Davison Comments

Mass Effect Infiltrator is a new third-person shooter game for iOS devices, published by EA and developed by IronMonkey Studios — the same team who brought Dead Space, EA’s sci-fi horror franchise to iOS.

This is actually the Mass Effect’s second appearance on iOS, though previous title Mass Effect Galaxy had such a poor critical reception and commercial performance it has since been removed from the App Store. Unlike Galaxy’s comic-book art style which seemed somewhat at odds with the realistic visuals of the rest of the series, Infiltrator has production values much closer to those of the computer and console instalments.

The game is available now from the App Store as a Universal app compatible with all iPhones from 3GS onwards, 3rd-generation iPod touches and up, and the entire iPad range. Some users and reviewers have noted that the game’s frame rate struggles significantly on older devices, however, due to the detail present in the game’s visuals.

Infiltrator casts players in the role of a new character to the Mass Effect universe: Cerberus agent Randall Ezno. Unlike the main games in the series on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, players have no control over the basic appearance of the protagonist, though they are able to purchase and upgrade new equipment for him over the course of the game.

The game focuses primarily on third-person gunplay. Ezno is controlled through a dual virtual thumbstick setup, with sliding fingers over the left side of the screen moving him forwards, backwards, left and right while swiping over the right side of the screen allows for rotation of the camera’s viewpoint. Ezno is able to take cover by running at a wall and then releasing the virtual thumbstick, though at times it’s difficult to tell exactly which objects it’s possible to take cover behind.

Once in cover, Ezno can leap from cover point to cover point by swiping in the relevant directions, or attack enemies by tapping them to target them when a box-like reticle appears around them. At this point, the player is able to fine-tune Ezno’s aim with a view to firing at enemies’ weak points (typically the head) before their gun overheats. Tapping the screen pops Ezno back into cover, while pressing and holding on two menu buttons at the left and right sides of the screen allow him to use special powers known as Biotics and alternative weapons respectively. Making use of a combination of different abilities and weapons as well as killing enemies in rapid succession causes the player to earn Style Points, and after a combat scenario is concluded, the player is rated out of three stars according to how stylish their kills were, how quickly they resolved the encounter and how much damage they took from enemy fire. They are then rewarded with the game’s currency of Credits, which can be spent on upgrading Ezno’s abilities and purchasing new equipment at any time. It takes at least two playthroughs of the complete game to be able to afford all possible upgrades and equipment — or alternatively there are a selection of in-app purchases available, including the option to permanently double all credits earned for $4.99 and several packages of virtual currency ranging from $1.99 to $49.99. At $6.99 for the app alone, EA stands to potentially profit a great deal from impatient players.

The computer and console versions of Mass Effect are known for combining action-packed shooter sequences with dialogue-heavy conversation scenes, with the player having the opportunity to significantly shape the storyline through the choices they make. There is no such system present in Mass Effect Infiltrator, though a half-hearted tip of the hat is given to the series’ iconic “Paragon/Renegade” morality system at the conclusion of each mission, where Ezno typically has the choice between letting someone go (a “Paragon” action) or inflicting some form of violence on them (“Renegade” behavior).

The game is primarily a cross-promotional tool for the recently-released Mass Effect 3 on computers and consoles. Hidden “intel” items in each area of the game may be collected and uploaded to EA’s Origin servers in order to assist the player’s progress towards the “best” ending for Mass Effect 3 — an ending which is very difficult and time-consuming to get for players who are not either playing Infiltrator or the computer and console games’ multiplayer mode. Alternatively, intel items may simply be sold for in-game credits, though the rewards on offer for doing this are relatively negligible.

Mass Effect Infiltrator is currently the No. 18 top paid iPhone app, No. 6 top paid iPad app, No 12 top paid iPhone game and No. 5 top paid iPad game. It’s also currently the No. 10 top grossing iPhone app, No. 16 top grossing iPad app, No. 9 top grossing iPhone game and No. 10 top grossing iPad game. This is a strong start considering the game only launched on March 6 — the same day as Mass Effect 3. To follow Infiltrator’s progress through the App Store charts, check out AppData, our tracking service for iOS and social games and developers.