Remember Battlefield 3: Aftershock, the 'companion' game so bad EA pulled it a few months after its release? It seems the publisher hasn't learned with Mass Effect: Infiltrator, a generic third-person shooter set in the same universe that adds nothing to the main storyline.
You play as disgruntled Cerberus employee Randall Ezno, who discovers that the pro-human organisation is much more corrupt and twisted than he originally believed. While visiting his advisor Inali Renata - who clearly graduated BA (Hons) from the Dick Van Dyke University of Terrible Accents - alien prisoners begin to escape from the Cerberus base, and for some reason Inali is snatched and brutally experimented on by the director of the facility. With help from a Volus who spews out bizarre statements in an infuriating Cheshire Cat manner over intercom, Randall must fight through both escaping inmates and Cerberus forces to try to save Inali and uncover the truth.
But the execution is sloppy, with the characters afforded little in the way of context and backstory. You simply walk from room to room, attacking everything in your way, and the script, often seen as one of the high points of the series, is dull and uninspired. Randall himself has no personality, and relies on Nukem-esque catchphrases at the end of fight sequences. This is perplexing for a series so reliant on story and character attachment, and adds nothing in terms to Commander Shepard's arc. The signature dialogue wheel is also nowhere to be seen, yet the developers at IronMonkey include the options to make a Paragon or Renegade decision when it comes to dealing enemy agents. These, perhaps unsurprisingly, feel tacked on, and have no real influence on the course of the game.
Randall benefits from some of the decent cover mechanics Commander Shepard inherited for Mass Effect 3. Sweeping the touchscreen in a given direction allows Randall to dart between or vault over cover. The system is responsive, and Randall generally goes where you want him to. Combat is satisfying for the most part, with the game sporting both guns and biotics, but the controls are fiddly, with the biotics in the top left of the screen and weapons in the top right.
Choosing a power doesn't pause the action - unlike in the main games - until after you've selected it. It takes some getting used to, but it eventually becomes second nature and speeds up the pace. You can unlock new powers and guns through the upgrade screen, and customise how you play your game accordingly. The real joy comes from the sniper rifle, which can deal massive amounts of damage if you time the shot just right with a mechanic akin to lining up the perfect shot in a golf sim. It adds a fun spin to otherwise traditional sniper fare.
Your frequent altercations are ranked, with a maximum of three stars awarded by executing quickly and with style. It's a nice way to keep players coming back, though the game doesn't currently support Game Center so you can't show your achievements off to the world.
Eventually microtransactions rear their ugly head. You earn credits from completing fight sequences or finding wall safes and terminals hidden around levels, but the best guns, armour upgrades and biotic powers cost quite plenty of cash. If you don't fancy grinding through levels for extra coppers, EA luckily has a handy store available from the upgrade screen to allow you to purchase credits. These prices range from £1.49 to a whopping £34.99 for 200000 credits.
Downed enemies also cough up intel points, which can be either exchanged for credits or uploaded to Mass Effect 3's Galaxy at War system. It's possible to farm your Galactic Readiness levels in a shorter period of time than the wonky Mass Effect: Datapad, which can take hours to get even just a 5 per cent increase in a single star system.
Mass Effect: Infiltrator is a generic third-person shooter that leaves out the best aspects of the franchise. While the combat is occasionally fun, it can quickly become repetitive and fiddly. But if you're looking for a boost to your Galactic Readiness, or just aren't ready to let the Mass Effect universe go just quite yet, Mass Effect: Infiltrator might be worth a purchase...
... when it's on sale.