Review: Mass Effect Datapad - Complications Ensue
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Saturday, March 17, 2012

You can't "win" Mass Effect 3 without playing an online game. Either you have to play many, many bouts of ME3 multiplayer, or play many, many bouts of Infiltrator, or play Datapad. Datapad is the free iPhone/iPad app that Bioware is releasing so no one can say you have to pay extra in order to win ME3.

Datapad is a Farmville-style app, where you send space fleets on "missions" to raise galactic readiness. You quickly find out that in any of the five quadrants there are 3 missions that never change. Yep, same star systems, same description, same rewards. You have to send your fleets to do those missions over and over to get galactic readiness points. And when I say over and over, I mean literally dozens and dozens of times to get your galactic readiness to where you can get the best ME3 ending.

Which means, of course, that you have to check your iPad or iPhone constantly in order to make sure fleets aren't sitting still. Just like Farmville, the game intrudes into daily life. It will take days of playing Datapad constantly to get your readiness up. I've been playing constantly for two days and I've improved my galactic readiness by 5%.

This is not a game. No one would actually play Datapad if they weren't trying to avoid having to play Infiltrator or ME3 multiplayer. Datapad is a chore.

It could have been given a little flavor with trivial effort. Just write different missions for different star systems. And with a tiny bit more effort, there could have been jeopardy. (Your starfleets can be "crippled" but they fix themselves in an hour, which is tedious but hardly alarming.) But they didn't want to. Bioware/EA don't really want you to play Datapad. They want you to buy Infiltrator for $7, or play ME3 multiplayer (which requires an Xbox LIVE Gold membership). But they want to pretend that they're not forcing you to buy something.

So Datapad is free. And it's worth every penny you pay.

PS Aside from the Galaxy at War "game" on Datapad, you can also access the game's codex, in case you didn't read it in-game, and you can check a Mass Effect twitter feed.

PPS The programming itself is terrible. It keeps losing login information. It keeps claiming that my iPhone is not connected to the Internet. You have to hit the touchscreen repeatedly to get it to respond. No pinch-to-zoom. Incredibly slow to reload. It is a badly, badly made app. .

PPPS It's only free if you're playing the game on your first profile. You'll need to buy a second online pass if you're playing the game on a second profile.

PPPPS: Increasing "bonus readiness" seems to be the fastest way to increase readiness.

Labels: ,

10 Comments:

I've been using the Datapad for some time and after buying all the upgrades there were, one gets a new advanced upgrade option.
It is called 'Galactic Command Coordination' (it will increase the readiness rating significant), it has three levels and the first costs 500000 credits.
Going to take some time to grind up such amount. o.O

By Blogger Gascogne, at 4:22 PM  

I have not even been able to log in. I put in my EA Origin credentials, and it says it's incorrect. I test that same login on TOR and the Origin site, and it works just fine. I even changed the password - still no luck. So, I guess it's multiplayer for me :)

By Blogger Jim, at 11:14 AM  

You literally cannot get 500,000 credits. You'd max out readiness in all sectors after about 125 "missions," and that only gets you to 140,000 credits.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 1:13 PM  

You can, actually, reach 500k credits. I'm still a long ways off myself, but if you keep doing missions, you keep getting credits, and you can deploy your ships even if you've reached 100% readiness in all systems. Keep in mind that your readiness also decays at a steady amount, and you only get the readiness rewards from the mission upon collecting, not launching.

Also, the three tiers of missions have slightly different rewards, and as near as I can tell, different purposes. The short missions give a better readiness to time ratio, but the longer ones give you a better credits to time ratio.

By Blogger Teryx, at 10:20 AM  

@Teryx: If the purpose of the bonus is to increase readiness, and you've got 100% readiness, why would you keep playing to get the bonus?

That's really irritating about readiness decaying in real time. If I put a game down for a while, I don't want to have to replay it.

You'd need almost 450 missions to get 500 credits. That's a lot of signing in again because the app dropped your login.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 10:23 AM  

Well, personally, I don't play the multiplayer all that much. I've been using the app not to get my readiness to 100%, but to keep it there. It's working out fairly well for that. The credits I'm earning I'll (eventually) put toward the advanced upgrade that Gascogne mentioned, so I don't have to check it as often. I check in three times a day - when I get up, some time in the early afternoon if I'm available to, and before bed. Does the trick.

I have it on a first-gen iPad (my only iDevice), and I can't say I've had any problems with dropped logins, but I can say if I leave the app running for a few hours it crashes. A problem easily avoided!

If readiness didn't decay (I think it's around 0.155% per hour, from what I can tell from just cursory looking at the app), it wouldn't really encourage people to keep playing the Galaxy at War system in its various incarnations. It's also not very difficult to get to 100% readiness using the multiplayer - you don't even have to succeed to get some credit toward Galactic Readiness.

By Blogger Teryx, at 11:01 AM  

Almost got 100% now but only 100k credits.
500k feels way off and it is too much "grind" to get. =p

By Blogger Gascogne, at 6:44 PM  

hey, they just Nerfed the cost of the upgrades...I just bought all three for 100,000

By Blogger Tyroni, at 11:55 AM  

Heh they figured out the cost was too high.. =p

By Blogger Gascogne, at 5:20 PM  

So EA has decided to "shut down the internet connection" to this app, forcing people to play multiplayer. Figures...

By Blogger DarkByke, at 2:22 PM  

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