Bioware is back with a new Mass Effect game and this time it seems to have gone more for size than a compelling story in its latest space-opera combat role playing game Mass Effect: Andromeda. Diehard enthusiasts of the role-playing shooter game, which began in 2007, were left dissatisfied with the controversial ending to the story of Commander Shepard in the original trilogy, compelling Bioware developers to come up with a product that would assuage fans while also offer a universe so gigantic it would send your heads reeling at the enormity of it (a more polished version of No Man’s Sky, one may say).
Is it worth your time and money? Let’s have a look!
A Familiar Premise Set After The Events Of The First Game
Eager to sidestep the nebulous end-state implied in Mass Effect 3, Andromeda is set in 2185, after the events of the original game (though before Mass Effect 2). Under the Andromeda Initiative, 100,000 cryogenically frozen colonists from the alien races of asari, salarian, turian and human are aboard massive arks, embarking on a 600-year journey to the galaxy Andromeda, where exist multiple ‘golden worlds’, which are planets that can support life.
You awake as Pathfinder Ryder (you can play either gender- Sara or Scott, both of which are extremely customizable) to a rude shock- the arks have been scattered by a huge and dangerous cloud with mysterious origin known as ‘the Scourge’ and the much promised golden worlds are no longer habitable. Moreover, hostile genocidal aliens called Ketts and murderous robots called the remnant are running amok, giving you something to shoot at.
As Pathfinder Ryder, it becomes your job to be humanity’s new beacon of hope, a leader who will stave off emotional conflict, deal with logistical troubles, and inspire colleagues to find planets and set up new colonies that will be suitable for providing a better future.
Laser And Explosions Enwrap Profound Character Development
Character depth and growth has been a central theme in the Mass Effect games and Mass Effect: Andromeda weaves around its narrative pretty much along the same. With your intrepid crew of smugglers, scientists and warriors, you gather supplies, hang out with them and watch a movie. With a running time of nearly 100 hours, it makes for a deeper and more absorbing experience, providing a touch of realism and poignancy through multifarious personal stories that is rarely seen in space operas today.
Fans familiar with the franchise will be at home with the explosive action-sequences enveloped around scifi guns, telekinetic powers, and jet packs to dodge incoming fire or to reposition quickly. The thoroughly annoying Mako rover is no longer there, though the replacement planetary vehicle called the Nomad is not altogether totally kickass.
It is faster and offers greater mobility, but lacks tactical finesse as seen in previous versions. Coordinating with teammates is much difficult while pulling off combos and ambushes, though the furious battle scenes hardly leave any time to mourn any loss.
The action scenes serve as the perfect foil for the overall cerebral tone of the game- the supporting cast is magnificent and each character has their own personal narratives, such as Suvi, a deeply religious science officer, or Drack, a 1,400 years old Krogan who is looking for a last act of glory.
The personal relationships that you build and the heartfelt dialogues you have are the high point of the game. After all, peering into the souls of your family, friends and comrades is how the boundaries of life can be expanded further.
Glitches Abound But Let’s Wait For DLC Patches
If you read reviews of Mass effect: Andromeda from different websites, it has not quite garnered the response that Bioware would have liked it to have. This is because opting for a massive open world of cosmic proportions will most certainly be replete with several technical glitches.
Let’s talk about the inventory system first. It is still a mess with various range of weapons that have additional tiers (I-VI), as well as weapon and armor modifications. They can be crafted through R&D, which again call for different resources, making the entire process a tedious one.
The animation has stoked up a huge controversy, with several sexist idiots blaming a female developer for the issue. That said, the animation is indeed not up to the mark and most characters look quite odd to look at. Also, there have been several frame rate issues on the PS4 Pro for the visuals.
However, the major stink for me was the awful writing and scripts. Bioware has always had an issue with quality writing and in Mass Effect: Andromeda, this problem is exacerbated with the mechanical dialogue-delivery. Characters only speak in terms of pure plot exposition or reciting snarky sounding canned replies, making it all seem fake and stilted.
The good news is that Bioware is actively listening to feedback and purportedly plans to roll-out patches to fix the bugs and issues that have irked fans. If they get that sorted out, then the top notch action, fantastic third person combat and exhilarating open world exploration may very well be a solid reason to pick this up.