6 January 2014

That Time I Took Mass Effect on the Road

Oh hey, so 2013 happened. Not a whole lot to say about it. No really dramatic changes in my little universe. Did a reasonable amount of gaming (though probably could've done more, if I wasn't such a lazy sod).

For me, it was, perhaps most of all, the year of Mass Effect. Technically it begun already in late 2012, but over the last year I played a lot of Mass Effect, and enjoyed other related activities, as documented in this blog. But here's one more entry to add to the list.

I bought the mobile game Mass Effect: Infiltrator already last summer, in preparation of several weeks spent away from home (and my dear consoles), but I never got around to playing it. I just spent a week at the family's country house again, and, particularly as I'm currently re-playing the Mass Effect trilogy on PS3, I figured it was about time I gave it a try. (And oh yeah, 2013 was of course my first year with a smartphone. How did I ever survive without one?)

Randall Ezno is a operative for the shady paramilitary organization called Cerberus. He returns from a mission to find things at his base are amiss, and... Well, I won't spoil the plot. There's not really a whole lot of it. The 'proper' Mass Effect games are famous for their plots and dialogue, but Infiltrator is more of a straightforward action game. You don't get much choice about the main character or how the story develops. It's not a lengthy game, either. I easily played through it over my holiday week, and while I can't quote an exact time, it's not like I spent hours gaming every day.

The action emulates the style of the main games, of course, meaning it's a shooting game with emphasis on the use of cover, except you don't have any support from squad members. You don't get experience points, but you get credits you can use to improve your weapons and special abilities. And you can replay earlier missions in order to get more credits, which was handy as a few fights a little way into the game proved kinda tough for me.

The touch screen controls were... OK, I guess. Took a little getting used to, obviously. You target enemies simply be tapping on them, and move between covers by swiping in a particular direction. Actual running around using touch controls is a little awkward, of course, but since you spend much of the time behind cover, it's not as big an issue as in some mobile games. One thing I noticed, however, was that after an intense session my hands and wrists would be aching pretty bad. I do much prefer a decent traditional game controller.

The graphics looked pretty OK for a phone game, in my mind, but it still ran fairly smoothly on my no longer quite state of the art Galaxy S II. When it ran, that is. The game crashed multiple times over my playthrough. Which is never good, of course. And there were occasional other glitches, too. Like in one boss fight, a large portion of the boss kept disappearing, rendering it incapable of either damaging or being damaged....

Battery life is always an issue with mobile gaming, and this game was no exception. It's not something you actually want to do while literally 'on the road'. You want to know pretty well when and where your next opportunity for a charge is.

Overall, I didn't think Mass Effect: Infiltrator was a particularly great game. It didn't have a great deal of depth, the battles and environments were kinda repetitive, it was fairly short, and there were numerous crashes and glitches. But for a phone game, I guess it's a decently entertaining title. Certainly there is space in the Mass Effect universe for many more stories than what the main trilogy tells, and, despite all its simplicity, Infiltrator is still a Mass Effect game. Now that I'm back home, however, I can't wait to get back to my playthrough of Mass Effect 2...

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