Let’s get that first niggling thought out of the way: this Mass Effect iOS game isn’t going to feel like that Dead Space iOS game. While they’re both spin-offs of successful multi-platform franchises, they extend the core experience in different ways, with Dead Space mobile focusing recreating the series’ scares.
Infiltrator won’t be trying to emulate the character-focused branching plots of Mass Effect. Instead, it endeavours instead to deliver the combat encounters of the BioWare sci-fi series.
I got to see Infiltrator in action at this week’s EA Spring Showcase event, as the game was demoed on an iPad that was connected to a TV via HDMI adaptor. Graphically, it looks good, like a slice of the console Mass Effect games that just happens to live on Apple’s tablet. Players will control a character named Randall Ezno, a Cereberus soldier who tracks down and captures extraterrestrial species for the humans-first organisation to study. Ezno’s allegiance to Cerberus starts to wane and part of the game’s objectives will have players finding intelligence to send to Commander Sheperd.
As far as gameplay, Mass Effect Infiltrator’s cover-based firefights looked similar to the gunplay of Mass effect 2 and the snippets we’ve seen of ME3, too. The EA rep playing the game spent almost all of his time behind barriers, it seemed, and wielded a few different weapons on his mission. The objective of the level shown was to hunt down a Turian on a planet swarming with evil robotic Geth. Two shotgun blasts were enough to put down Geth juggernauts and anti-gravity grenades caused enemy soldiers to float in the air, making them easy targets for other weapons like a beam cannon. Parts of this level also saw Ezno using stealth with a cloaking kill.
While there aren’t going to be hours and hours of narrative in Infiltrator, there will be Paragon/Renegade decision points. When Ezno reached the Turian he was assigned to find, two glowing options appeared on the bottom of the iPad screen. Mob rule decreed a Renegade decision, which ended up with Ezno kicking the weakened alien in the head and dragging him off. It seemed like the Paragon decision might have involved letting the Turian go, but that choice wasn’t shown.
Most intriguingly, Infiltrator will link back to Mass Effect 3. The intel and collectibles you find in the iDevice game will increase your Galactic Readiness and War Assets as your Sheperd prepares for a final showdown with the Reapers. It was stressed, though, that you won’t need to play Infiltrator to get the best possible Mass Effect ending. Console and iOS will be linked via an Origin account — which seems to indicate that there’ll be some kind of login required for ME3 — but Infiltrator won’t be supporting Apple’s Game centre social network.
There’s no firm release date for Mass Effect Infiltrator yet but EA’s reps said that the game should be out around the same time as Mass Effect 3.