Mass Effect Infiltrator preview

Mass Effect Infiltrator is yet another part of the growing transmedia portfolio for BioWare's space IP. Don't write off Infiltrator as a simple cash-in on EA's part, however. The upcoming third-person shooter for iOS and Android devices offers much more than a gimmicky connection to Mass Effect 3. In fact, it might serve as a blueprint for future third-person shooters on touch platforms. Why are we so optimistic about Infiltrator's potential? It's being developed by IronMonkey Studios, the same team that helmed the official iPad Game of the Year--Dead Space. Mass Effect Infiltrator replicates the highly regarded controls of the mobile adaptation of Dead Space. Instead of having to focus your fingers on a specific spot on the touch screen, each half of the screen can be used as an "analog stick." Infiltrator expands upon this system by adding a streamlined cover mechanic to the mix. Add in the ability to switch weapons and use various biotic abilities, Infiltrator certainly looks like a Mass Effect game, making it a far more ambitious project than Mass Effect's previous iOS spin-off, Mass Effect Galaxy. Players take control of Randall Esno, a scarred Cerberus operative that acts as an "infiltrator" for the shadowy organization. This standalone adventure doesn't tie into Shepard's story, but as in Mass Effect 2, he'll find out that Cerberus "isn't doing all the good things they say they are doing."

Infiltrator does a good job mimicking Mass Effect's look

Along his adventure, he'll encounter "intel," which can be uploaded to your Mass Effect 3 save. This is just one way to increase your "Galactic Readiness" level--and offers a way for you to work your way towards the best ending, even when you're away from your console. This connection to Mass Effect 3 is likely the key reason why fans will drop cash to buy the app. But, the game does appear to hold up on its own merits. We weren't able to get hands-on time, but a lengthy presentation showed off more "arcadey" battles, thanks to an emphasis on combos and battling "stylishly." Taking down an enemy will activate a brief slow-mo period, which will let you try and take down another enemy for a combo. You're encouraged to switch weapons and use different biotic attacks to increase a style meter. For example, you might want to levitate an enemy, shoot him down with an assault rifle, switch to a sniper rifle and headshot a far enemy, and then run and take cover and blast someone with a shotgun.

Moving from cover to cover is fluid and easy

While the gunplay looks solid, fans that appreciate the more talky-RPG side of the series will be a bit disappointed here. There are "Renegade" and "Paragon" choices to be made here, but they're far from the focus on this adventure. For example, at the end of the first level, Randall could choose between punching a hostile Turian in the face, or simply capturing him. Neither option looked particularly compelling. Mass Effect Infiltrator will be available on iOS close to the launch of Mass Effect 3. An Android version will follow afterwards.