Just as Mass Effect Galaxy tried to tell a non-Shepard story wedged between the primary console releases of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, Electronic Arts brings us Mass Effect Infiltrator just before the Mass Effect 3 release.
As I noted in my earlier review, I was not very happy with Mass Effect Galaxy. It was a major departure from the series both in form and function. With this in mind, I went into Mass Effect Infiltrator hopeful, but wary. It turns out that both of those feelings had merit to them.
Graphics - 9:
I thought the graphics on Galaxy were okay, maybe slightly better than average. Here Infiltrator looks far better. At a glance, it looks right at home in the Mass Effect series. The style, the detail, all of it just looks great. I had a few instances of slowdown, but really they were very, very rare. Considering how much more detail is on the screen here, it is a huge improvement over Galaxy from a few years back. It's not quite Infinity Blade, but it's still very good.
Sound & Music - 7:
Interestingly, I don't know that they were quite as solid as Galaxy. If it is a step worse, it is by a small margin. The music was still decent, and while there is still plenty of voice acting, it is somewhat lacking. It is not as if the voice overs are bad, they are just fairly uninteresting. Maybe that was a product of the storyline too, which just never really gripped me in any way.
Gameplay - 6:
The shooting mechanics are actually pretty solid. However, while this game looks like Mass Effect, it is missing some key components. There are no leveling up of the character (though you can improve skills through purchases made with credits awarded based on your performance), no conversation wheels and no real sense of exploration. This is a third-person shooter with cover mechanics like those found in the actual Mass Effect console titles. The character himself does not handle badly, but he does feel a bit bulky and awkward at times. There are definitely better pure shooters out there, but at least this game feels like it has more to do with the series than Galaxy ever did.
Intangibles - 5:
You can power up abilities through purchases and the game rates you after each section (spread out over 9 chapters, so you can easily play this for 6-8 hours to get through the campaign), and there are different criteria that are used in this evaluation process. It all lends a bit more replay value to the game, and there is a tie-in for this to the "Galactic Readiness" rating you have in Mass Effect 3, which is a nice nod to the Mass Effect world. Still, the main reason I play the series is for the branching storyline and to develop my character and squad while I explore the various galaxies. All of those components are missing here, really.
Overall - 6.75:
This is a better effort than Galaxy was, but it still misses way too many marks. If you absolutely love shooters on the iPad, then there may be some redeeming value to be had here, but at $6.99 it just feels like too much price for too little game. If I want to improve my Galactic Readiness, I am going to do it with Mass Effect 3's multiplayer, which gives me very little reason to pick up this better but still flawed iPad entry to the Mass Effect series.