Monday, 19 November 2012

Mass Effect: Infiltrator

Developed strictly for Mass Effect fans, Mass Effect Infiltrator (MEI) is the handheld extension of Bioware’s rather popular sci-fi franchise. It is based in the Mass Effect 3 universe yes, but besides carrying the moniker, the game bears little resemblance to the recently released Mass Effect 3.
Since Commander Shepard is off saving Earth against the Reaper invasion, you’ll step into the boots of Cerberus Operative Randall Ezno, who like all cleanup guys, realizes how horrible his employer is after becoming privy to certain experiments. Like its console counterpart, MEI is a third-per-son cover-based shooter wherein you takecover, shoot dudes in the face, and move on. It’s rather simple stuff made a tad complicated by the awkward controls.
Taking cover works fairly wellin this game as you take cover by sprinting towards it. Moving from cover to cover is also a fluid process made simple by the swipe of a finger. Shooting enemies is where things tend to get a bit iffy. Once an opponent comes into range, you have to tap on him/it once and after he’s highlighted, you haveto align the reticule to his head using your finger. I would advise players to go straight for the head because most of your opponents are born bullet sponges capable of absorbing a ridiculous amount of damage to the rest of the body. If surrounded by multiple opponents, you can also chain headshots by quickly tapping on all their heads. When it works, the combat in MEI feels fast, fluid and exciting, but ever so often, it’ll all fall apart when an opponent gets too close from comfort. Getting away from him to high-light him and then target his head becomes so awkward, you

will end up dying nine times out of ten. Things get a bit worse during boss fights as there is no roll or dodge button so your only choice is sprinting away from their attacks. Once again, this feels quite clumsy and will most probably result in your death.
Switching between weapons and powers also feels like a tedious process as you have to hold down on a power/weapon, wait for a small menu to open up and only then can you choose the weapon you wish to switch to. This gets annoying during heated battles when you need to quickly switch between weapons and powers.
Once you do get the hang of combat, things progress a lot smoother unless you hit some of the speed bumps I men-tioned earlier. After every enemy encounter, you're graded on your style determined by time taken, headshots chained, and powers used. The higher you score, the more cash you earn that is obviously used to upgrade Ezno’s abilities on the bat-tlefield. Besides the staple stuff like better armor and weapon improvement, you can pick up a bunch of biotic abilities that do make combat a little bit easier. While it did hurt my feelings to see the game dish out a measly one star after most enemy encounters, I found the whole system of grading players after every enemy encounter a bit jarring. I have no issue with the principle of rewarding players for playing stylishly, but is it really necessary to do so after every single encounter? Why not wait till I hit a checkpoint or finish the entire level? Infiltrator is one of the few games on the iPad that can proudly say it offers console-level visuals. I really can’t fault the game in the visual department because it really handles itself extremely well there, but the game’s art style can get extremely repetitive. In fact, repetitive is a word I would use to describe this game in general as it runs out of steam really fast, forcing players to just run through similar looking rooms battling the same opponents over and over again. Sure, the entire Infinity Blade series does that too, but at least they don’t expect you to do so with frustrating controls. Mass Effect Infiltrator could have been better, but that doesn’t mean it’s a terrible game. Sure the control scheme kind of sucks and yes, it does end up getting repetitive, but when the game works, it provides solid entertainment to anyone looking at further exploring the Mass Effect universe. This one however is strictly for the fans


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