A bit over two weeks ago, while sitting in the Hartford, Connecticut, airport, I made my first foray into the world of mobile gaming. Even though I’ve had a smartphone for a while now, I had never actually played a game on my phone up until that point. It’s not that I’m one of those PC or console elitists who view mobile gaming as trash, but whenever I’m in a situation where it would make sense to get the phone out and play, I usually prefer to read a book, get caught up on the current week’s edition of The Economist, or browse online articles. This time, however, I decided it was finally time to give mobile gaming a try. The specific game I would play would be Mass Effect Infiltrator, referred to hereafter as just Infiltrator. I had gotten a code for a free download of Infiltrator earlier in the year and had been meaning to play it for some time, and with my flight delayed due to a fuel leak on the tarmac (the first time that’s ever happened to me) I wasn’t going to be getting on my plane any time soon. And so, with the opportunity right in front of me, I got the phone out, launched the game and played for the next hour and a half. Over the following days I put in a few more short sessions and at this point I feel ready to supply a few thoughts on it.
As a game, Infiltrator is ok but not great. It is a cover-based, third person shooter in which you blast your way from area to area, earning credits along the way which you can use to unlock and upgrade weapons and abilities. The touchscreen controls work just well enough but are nowhere nearly as accurate or precise as an actual controller or a mouse and keyboard. Consequently, there were a number of times where the game misinterpreted what I was trying to do and I ended up dying when I felt I shouldn’t have. On the plus side, the sound and visuals of Infiltrator are quite good. Granted, this is my first mobile game, so I don’t have a personal point of comparison, but it’s certainly better looking than other mobile games I’ve seen people playing. Sadly, Infiltrator’s storyline is razor thin, which is disappointing because the mainline Mass Effect games have such a heavy emphasis on story and character development. You learn next to nothing about the character you play as and nothing that happens feels particularly meaningful. When I stopped playing Infiltrator I had overall enjoyed my time with it, but I wasn’t eager to play it again.
At this point I suppose the question is whether or not I’ll being doing any more mobile gaming in the future. The answer is yes, but in very small portions. Having games on my phone would certainly be a fun diversion, but I do enough console gaming that I don’t really need additional video game entertainment in my life. Times like the one I had at the airport are also among the ones that I am able to get serious reading done and in the grand scheme of things I think I’m better off sticking with that rather than playing games on my phone. I can see the appeal of mobile gaming and I have nothing against it, but committing to it just doesn’t make sense for me at this time.