Mass Effect: Galaxy is a game developed by BioWare for the iPhone (a first for the company), set in the Mass Effect universe and positioned chronologically between the first and second main games. Players take control of Jacob Taylor, a biotic soldier for the Earth Alliance Navy that survived the geth attack on Eden Prime at the beginning of Mass Effect. The story of the game has been described as a “side-story” and is not required to understand the plot of Mass Effect 2. Narratively, it primarily serves as an introduction to two new squadmates that appear in Mass Effect 2: Jacob Taylor and Miranda Lawson.
Unlike other BioWare games, Mass Effect: Galaxy is not a role-playing game. Instead, it is a top down action shooter that controls using the iPhone/iPod Touch’s accelerometer capabilities to guide Jacob around on the screen, as he automatically locks onto enemies and shoots them. The developers of the game stated that they wanted to make a game that focused more on combat for the iPhone platform. However, the game isn’t a complete departure from the recognizable touchstones of the series. Like previous Mass Effect games, the player will have dialogue choices to make at certain points that will affect the game’s story, though they have been streamlined quite a bit from the core Mass Effect games. BioWare has stated that Galaxy is their first attempt to expand the playable Mass Effect universe beyond the trilogy of games that make up the core of the series.
Weapons and Abilities
Mass Effect Galaxy features a few simple upgradable powers and abilities similar to those found in the full Mass Effect game.
Jacob is armed with the standard Mass Effect assault rifle with sound effects lifted from the PC and Xbox 360 game. Unlike the full game, the weapon never overheats.
Heavy Weapon/ Grenade
Similar to the customizable grenade in Mass Effect, this abilities causes Jacob to fire an explosive projectile in a straight line. It explodes upon impact with an object or enemy. Unlike firing the assault rifle which features lock on auto-targeting, firing the grenade can be trickier. It is always best to fire a grenade at an enemy near an object or confined to tight quarters. After finishing one of the three galaxy map missions introduced by Miranda, this ability is upgraded causing more explosive damage.
The Biotic Statis in Mass Effect Galaxy freezes a character in place. They cannot move or fire while under the influence of this ability. While in stasis, Jacob can continue firing on an enemy, killing them with no resistance. In Mass Effect only the Sentinel with the fully leveled Bastion specialization could damage enemies while in Stasis. Jacob also seems to have this ability. After finishing another of the three galaxy map missions introduced by Miranda, this ability is upgraded causing the stasis to last longer.
Again, much like the Overload ability in Mass Effect, this power discharges an enemies shields. After finishing another of the three galaxy map missions introduced by Miranda, this ability is upgraded causing more of the enemy’s shield to be depleted upon impact.
The game begins with Jacob Taylor on vacation on a cruise ship. The ship is attacked by Batarian pirates, so Jacob utilizes his Alliance military training to take it back. Jacob is sent to the Citadel where he meets with his former Commanding Officer, Major Derek Izunami who hires him to investigate the Batarian agenda in the Terminus Systems and throughout the galaxy. The Citadel is in an uproar, as a Batarian ambassador, Jath’Amon, will be arriving to negotiate a peace treaty. The people on the Citadel fear for their life, as a number of terrorist threats have arisen to halt the talks.
Jacob is sent to see a woman named Miranda Lawson in the Nemean Abyss to gather information, but is sidetracked by human pirates who have captured Cartagena Station. After defeating the leader of the pirates, “Black Eye” Clint Darragh, Jacob is given the choice to allow him to surrender or to kill him outright. After the battle Miranda expresses her appreciation for Jacob’s abilities and gives him three leads which can be investigated in any order.
On Bekke, Jacob finds the Batarians building an army; extremely odd for their race, as they normally utilize small terrorist cells when organizing attacks. Miranda’s scan reveals some kind of hazardous material in the area that only gets stronger as Jacob advances through the level. They eventually discover this material to be Element Zero, which enhances Jacob’s biotic abilities but could result in his death if he doesn’t leave quickly. He is extracted and the Element Zero is recovered safely.
On the Ahn’Kedar Orbital Platform, Jacob discovers the Batarians have taken it over and is forcing kidnapped human doctors and scientists to work on some kind of biological weapon. He teams up with Nax, a Krogan searching for a missing Asari scientist named Batha. Nax rescues her while Jacob releases the other hostages. The scientists claim that the Batarians are dying of a blood plague, and that are working on finding a cure, but Jacob is convinced this is just a ruse to get the hostages to go along with their plot. Once the prisoners are freed, Nax distracts the terrorists while Jacob confronts their leader. The Batarians have engineered the plague themselves and are planning on releasing it on the Citadel Council, with Batha’s cure as self-defense. Batha is allowed to continue her work on the cure on Miranda’s ship.
Jacob travels to Tortuga to find a Turian arms smuggler, Illo Nazario. Once there, he meets with Miranda’s informant, a Salarian named Ish. Ish tells Jacob that Illo hasn’t shown up on his radar in some time, and that he might be up to something. Ish gives Jacob the passcode to Illo’s hideout, and warns him of the thugs that Illo hires as bodyguards. Jacob infiltrates the base and confronts the smuggler, who reveals that he is dying from the Batarian’s engineered blood plague, and refuses to share his information until he is given Batha’s cure. Once cured, he holds up his end of the bargain and tells Jacob everything he knows. He reveals that the Batarians have no reservations to releasing the plague on the Council, because they have the vaccine and the Ambassador Jath’Amon is secretly the terrorist leader, who plans to unleash the plague on the Council himself.
Jacob and Miranda rush to the Citadel, where they foil the terrorist plot and save the Council as well as the lives of any of the Citadel’s inhabitants. Jath’Amon swears his revenge on Jacob and humanity in general, before being taken away by Citadel Security. Jacob returns to his vacation, with Miranda at his side.
Mass Effect: Galaxy’s art style differs from the core trilogy’s art direction significantly. While the main trilogy utilizes a mostly photo-realistic look, Galaxy has a “graphic novel” look to it. This include 2D animated cutscenes between actual combat levels in the game as well as exaggerated character models. This art style was chosen both to meet the specific graphical limitations of the device the game is being developed for, but also to allow certain unique identity to separate Mass Effect: Galaxy from the core titles. The effect for the cinematics is a presentation that resembles what a Mass Effect Saturday morning cartoon might look like.