Have you ever gotten excited about a new title that just came out from a game shop that you admire and love, only to play through the game and think: that’s it?! I got all worked up for THIS?! Well, that just happened to me. It took me all of 3 hours to beat Mass Effect Galaxy. No, I didn’t cheat. No, I didn’t take shortcuts (I actually spent longer than I should have on some parts). And, no, I didn’t skip any cut scenes (tempting as it was). If that isn’t enough reason to refrain from buying EA and Bioware‘s most recent release, keep reading. Otherwise, save yourself the $2.99 and spend it on a Frosty or something.
In Mass Effect Galaxy, you are Jacob Taylor and your mission is to stop a gang of alien terrorists from, well, terrorizing. You spend most of the game walking through a mildly interesting storyline and conversing with various intergalactic friends and foes. In each conversation, you decide what Jacob says: you can be a dick and tell the other person to get out of your way or you’ll blow their head off. Or, you can politely engage with them and dodge a fight altogether. I recommend the former, because you may not get to shoot anyone if you diplomatically avoid confrontation. And the game is short enough as it is; there’s no need to rob yourself of the few times you can actually play it.
That said, the gameplay wasn’t a complete disaster. For the three hours that I spent on it, at least 30 minutes of it was worth my time. The gameplay was unique and interesting, but it got dull after the first three battle scenes. As a change from the traditional Mass Effect game, you view the screen from a top-down perspective. You are able to see all of the enemies ahead of time and plan your attack strategy from there. Not that you need an attack strategy: I was able to beat almost every battle scene by just running and gunning my way around the room. You control Jacob Taylor via a tilt-motion, which is a clever use of the iPhone’s accelerometer for first-person shooting games. But it got stale and I felt myself a bit disappointed with the way it handled. You just can’t engage yourself in a top-down first-person shooter.
The real problem with the controls was that it AUTO-FIRES. Someone once told me that movies use voice-overs because the writer couldn’t come up with an interesting way to tell his story without it. Auto-firing is like the game developer’s voice-over. Unless there is a DAMN good reason for it, games should never have auto-firing (or auto-accelerate/brake for that matter).
To top it off, the game takes like 30 seconds to load between each cut scene and battle scene. Given the fragmented nature of Mass Effect Galaxy, it is absurdly annoying to see the loading screen so frequently. Definitely one of many things that should be fixed if EA ever decides to build a complete Mass Effect game for the iPhone.
Although never intended as a full-fledged iPhone game, Mass Effect Galaxy was still a major disappointment. To EA and Bioware: if you’re going to use it as a marketing vehicle for Mass Effect 2, then make it free (and cut out some of the features), or charge $0.99 for it. Regardless, as our Devin Coldeway predicted, this game simply dilutes the Mass Effect franchise.