Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 06/22/09 | Genre: Action
As a big fan of the Mass Effect franchise, I eagerly anticipated getting my greasy little paws on the iPhone title Mass Effect Galaxy. Galaxy is set to bridge the gap between Mass Effect and its upcoming sequel through the eyes of Jacob Taylor who must step in and help thwart an alien terrorist plot to attack the Citadel.
Mass Effect Galaxy begins with an impressive opening cinema. In fact, the visual look of the cinematic sequences and conversations is one not only the brightest moment of Mass Effect Galaxy but something other iPhone titles could learn from. After the opening sequence, you must fight off an attack on the Arcturian Jade--a Luxury Cruiser. This is where you see the elements of Mass Effect Galaxy that were not ready for primetime... mainly the combat.
Combat is used with the accelerometer to move your character, in a top down view, through the environment. You will automatically shoot at foes and have full use of special abilities by hitting the icons on the screen. The use of special abilities is a nice touch and will be reminiscent of the combat choices seen in the Xbox 360 and PC versions of Mass Effect.
Some players have a problem with the automatic firing of the combat. Sure, I can agree that by having the game automatically shoot for you that it takes away from the challenge. However, I fully understand the need to make the game easier for the casual fan. Despite the need of hardcore players to make things as challenging as possible, the large majority of players need an experience that is suitable for the platform. This fits the platform just fine.
The real issue with the combat is the game has not been fully refined and is mostly unplayable due to a low framerate. When combat loads up and there are multiple enemies on the screen, the framerate moves so slow that the game sputters and freezes. This takes all fun out of the combat. Worse than that, once you kill all of the enemies, it is sometimes very difficult to see how to navigate through the environment to make it through to the next room.
Players will soon see the combat as a necessary evil in order to get back to the dialogue sequences. Here, you get to experience a scaled down version of the Mass Effect dialogue system in anime style panels. While it is true that the dialogue options aren't quite as expansive as the original Mass Effect, you will find a lot of value for your money by just talking to characters, trying to open up dialogue choices, and learning about the story. After all, bridging the gap between the stories of Mass Effect 1 and 2 is what this title is all about.
In the end, I wish that Mass Effect Galaxy focussed more on the dialogue choices and offered more of a first or third person shooter on rails.
At the retail price of $4.99, I have a really hard time recommending Mass Effect Galaxy due to the framerate issues and slowdown on the iPhone 3G S. However, the title has been on sale for $2.99 and there is always hope for a future update to resolve the framerate problems. If you are a fan of Mass Effect and can put up with the combat, it is worth a purchase. For others, I would wait for a Lite version to try it out first.