Review: Mass Effect: Infiltrator (XBox Live)
Mass Effect: Infiltrator is another first person mobile shooter for your Windows Phone, but not everyone can get this title just yet. It's another Lumia exclusive from Nokia and EA, and in a way that's a shame, because it's perfectly suited to a mobile environment.
Version Reviewed: 188.8.131.52
One advantage of the developers taking their time to port the title to Windows Phone (the initial iOS release was in early March 2012) is that any bugs and issues with the graphical engine have been sorted out. As a result, the title on Windows Phone has the improved control system that was added to the iOS and Android versions.
It's still 16 months late coming to Windows Phone - but you can argue Windows Phone 8, gaming engines, deadlines, and time to code, all in the comments. What matters is that we have another high quality action game which looks great, comes from a solid franchise, and more importantly, it's not using Gameloft's 3D shooter engine.
I've nothing against Modern Warfare or NOVA 3, but their control systems did not agree with me. Infiltrator does agree with me, and it's a better gaming experience because of that. It goes for a more traditional twin stick approach, with movement derived from the left thumb, and looking around on the right. There's more linearity to the movement, and you can sweep across the whole screen if you want to - the key to the controls is where your finger was first pressed down, not where it ends up.
Targeting the enemy is a matter of tapping them (to 'lock on') and then fine tuning your aim while firing to make the head shot and the kill. Weapon changes are done by sliding from the top right of the screen, while special abilities are triggered from the top left. I like the addition of a bullet time effect to slow down the action when you make an impressive kill - all adds to the effect. All in all, the controls are some of the best I've seen for a 3D shooter on Windows Phone.
The graphics are also something to enjoy. There's a good mix of terrain effects on show, from ground and walls, to boulder fields, ammo boxes, and walls that create the levels to walk through. The Cerebus troops which you will be attacking all have a different look, and it's easy to spot which way they are looking - allowing you to creep up on them if you can.
And for some reason, there's a lot of blue and white in the first few levels, which of course are those played in the trial. It does get more colourful, honest!
There's some smart design going on in the game as well, from gunfire and explosions, to the grunts of pain from yourself as you get hit, to the shuffling movement of the enemy. Headphones really do help to bring you into the gaming world.
What is a let down in the game is the design of each level. It's boring and predictable, with very little choice on where to travel. Now there is choice in the level, but they are more along the lines of which box you want to take cover behind, rather than a fundamental decision about the course of the game. This does weaken the long term game for me - I like to have a decent illusion of choice while playing a game like this, and Infiltrator does not give that to me.
Loading times for each level are quite high, and this is compounded by the length of time it takes to work through a level (which is not long). Getting together a good flow of gameplay is very difficult with Infiltrator, and while the stop-start nature might be suited to a mobile game, allowing you to dip in and out of the title, the long loading times stop that being a possibility.
Mass Effect: Infiltrator is probably the best 3D shooter on Windows Phone, but there's still a fair amount of improvement that could be made. Controls work, graphics are good, but loading times and level design are lacking. There's a trial available, and given the title is in one of the higher price bands in the Windows Phone Store (£5.49 / $6.99) the trial is recommended to see how you get on. I think most gamers will like what they find.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at