I've been a huge fan of the Mass Effect series for some time now. I do admit that the first title took some time to convince me of its worth, but once I gave it a proper chance I dove right in and enjoyed it thoroughly. When I saw Mass Effect Galaxy come out for the iPhone/iPad, I was pretty excited. I had seen some games handle shooter mechanics well on the platform, and since the series was an RPG at its heart, there was room to be creative and make sure that it fit the iOS platform.
However, I was surprised to find a game that was a radical departure from what the series had been to date. Here are my thoughts on it.
Graphics - 6:
I actually don't mind the cartoon art style used for this game. I did not expect the rendering power of the actual game's console iterations, so while it was a slight surprise to me and looked like something from the Young Justice series found on Cartoon Network, that was okay.
That said? It is not terribly interesting or detailed. The game's top-down perspective works for what the title is trying to do. It just does not offer up a ton of variety or engage the use much visually. Additionally, when there was a lot of movement on the screen, there were some bouts of slowdown. They did not cripple the experience, but considering how little animation there was, it seemed odd.
Sound & Music - 8:
The music is good, as it often is for this series. I know the Mass Effect music can be hit or miss for a lot of listeners, but I have enjoyed the sound tracks on all three proper titles over the years. The sound effects are varied enough that I never really got annoyed with them. I have to say I was a bit surprised that there was voice acting, let alone as much of it as there was. On top of that, the voice overs were actually pretty well done.
Gameplay - 3:
So here is the crux of the problem for me. They took a series that was a blend of RPG and 3rd person shooter and turned it into a fairly mindless top-down shooter. You essentially title the iPad this way and that to move about, and you top on the target you want your character to focus their shooting on. It looks like Smash TV, but without the actual shooting mechanic driven from two analog sticks.
Intangibles - 3:
Did I mention they turned the game into an RPG-less top-down shooter? That might be slightly inaccurate depending on what you look for in an RPG. There are conversations that take place, and you can use a sort of odd version of the Mass Effect conversation wheel to choose how you respond to these situations. The problem is, none of it really matters. There is no branching storyline, there seems to be no real weight to anything you do in the game. It all just serves as something of a breather before you move on to the next map.
Overall - 5:
That's a score of five out of ten, and I almost feel like I'm doing the game a favor, because I really do not know if I liked it that much. Basically they took out all of the elements that make Mass Effect such an endearing series for me, and slapped the brand on top of a game that feels completely out of sync with anything the franchise has done before. Of course you go into something like this with expectations that must be kept in check. I never had any delusions that I was getting a handheld version of the console experience here, but I have seen enough quality games on the iPad (Dead Space comes to mind) that still work and feel like a part of the franchise to forgive the shortcomings found in Mass Effect Galaxy