The US Kotaku's review of IronMonkey's Mass Effect: Infiltrator was not the kindest piece of writing to hit the internet, though the game has proved popular enough with gamers, going by its 4/5 star rating on iTunes. The US review felt the story, considered one of the series' strongest features, "[struck] out pretty hard on all counts". That may have something to do with the fact IronMonkey and BioWare decided to "keep dialogue decisions out of the iOS game".
Speaking with Gamasutra, IronMonkey design director Jarrad Trudgen explains the move was a conscious choice that BioWare was supportive of. The stop/start nature of mobile gaming and an awareness of the effort required to do a good job of it, were the biggest contributors to its exclusion:
The choice to keep dialogue decisions out of the iOS game was made very early and in consultation with BioWare. Time of development and what format would best suit the platform were the major points that led to the decision.
"It's more environmental and the action is happening around you," Trudgen said. The bulk of the story is told through radio conversations, leading to a script that was about 10 times longer than what was contained in Dead Space.
While BioWare obviously consulted on Infiltrator, IronMonkey was given a great deal of autonomy when it came to crafting the final experience. The studio required the all-clear from the mothership regarding the protagonist and key elements of the story, but otherwise, almost all the work was done in Melbourne, including casting actors and recording voice-overs.
I haven't played Infiltrator, but if the controls are anything like Dead Space on iOS, then I don't see the situation changing soon. Don't get me wrong — I've played the hell out of King of Dragon Pass, Kard Combat, Starbase Orion and Elder Sign: Omens, but going from a mouse and keyboard to faux dual-thumb sticks is... well, I'd do better simply chopping my hands off.
I think I played maybe 10 minutes of Dead Space on iOS before the annoyance factor overrode my interest and I wiped it off my phone. Turns out, I'm wasn't the only one, as Trudgen had this to say about emulating console controls on a touchscreen:
"With Dead Space, some people would struggle a bit, which bothered me because I want everyone who's interested to be able to play it. It's terrible when they do want to play but they try and get frustrated," he said. "I wanted to broaden that a bit with Mass Effect, so we put some things in ... so you're not having to fight the controls so much."
That gets a thumbs-up in my books...I'm just not quite prepared to folk out $5.49 for something I might delete in less than half-an-hour. I would definitely appreciate opinions from those who've played both games and can provide a comparison.