Whenever triple-A titles hit shelves these days it seems that some sort of cross promotion is somewhat inevitable. So while the news of Mass Effect making its return to iOS was welcomed during an EA press conference in NYC, I think the term “cash in” was automatically tied in soon thereafter. Having had a chance to check out what these “galaxy at war” experiences were bringing to the table, it completely changed my opinion of them.
The first of two apps/games (yeah, because only one app would be uncivilized) was Mass Effect Data Pad. Think of it as the ultimate handbook to the Mass Effect universe. It provides users with tons of information about all of the series’ characters, conflicts, and backstories — all done in the game’s already familiar codex format.
“It was designed as a refresher course for fans… or a perfect jumping off point for people who want to jump into the Mass Effect series with the third entry,” an EA/BioWare producer told me after the hands-off demo of the app. It was also described as a “companion to the galaxy.”
Next up on the menu was Mass Effect: Infiltrator, developed by IronMonkey studios — the team behind the iOS version of Dead Space — and in conjunction with BioWare. Infiltrator, like ME3‘s multiplayer, adds to the narrative’s over-arching “galaxy at war” theme. Though skipping it won’t effect your single player game on ME3, it will be to your benefit to not do that.
When the demo first started, if the person who was showing us the title was holding an XBOX 360 control, I wouldn’t have second guessed it. Yes, it’s on an iPad. And yes, it really looks that good.
The gameplay is as you’d expect on an all-touch device. Different gestures, such as swiping up to vault over cover and tapping to aim and shoot, are the way to get the job done here. Movement does have dual analog control, don’t think for a second that this is simply a shooting gallery app in a Mass Effect skin.
Weapons and biotics can be queued up through an easy-to-use menu system — one that thankfully doesn’t take you out of the action. When things get a little crazy or overwhelming on screen, the game will make situational suggestions. In the demo we saw, when a Geth Juggernaught appeared and made advancements towards the player, the game suggested the use of a shotgun, and trust me when I say that it worked.
The game’s levels are broken up into smaller sections. Throughout each of the smaller areas, players are supposed to collect intel as well as earn style points through their kills (biotics for the win). Upon reaching the end of each smaller section, players will be given a grade on how well or poorly they did.
Completing the campaign in Infiltrator, which has players freeing prisoners from a Cerebus base, will add “war assets” as well as points to your Shepard’s “galactic readiness” rating in Mass Effect 3.
And how does this happen? EA confirmed to us that the game will be synched up to your Origin account. So you’ll see as you’re progressing through Infiltrator, your character’s rating in ME3 should be instantly affected.
And what about multiple character saves? The reps from EA didn’t want us to quote them on this but from what I understood it will be tied to your ME3 career — in other words, affecting all of your precious saves.
Although this is part of the “galaxy at war”, unlike the multiplayer component found in ME3, it won’t help you get the best ending in the game. This is just an added experience for fans of the Mass Effect franchise. Though EA wasn’t ready to talk about pricing, from what I’ve seen so far this is certainly a form of cross promotion that I can get behind.