Mass Effect: Andromeda Review
What can I say other than the first two thing you need to know.
- I am a Mass Effect diehard (slut) fan and love it deeply.
- I am just as disappointed with the animations as you all are as they’re very immersion breaking.
By now I’m sure you’ve heard about all the animation problems with the game so it makes we really want to love the game more but I really can’t. So with that being said, I still like the game, the story is decent, the combat is excellent, and of course the graphics are good (if you can run it that is.)
The basic, non-spoiler plot of the game is that an expedition was begun before Mass Effect 3 to colonize the Andromeda galaxy. You play as either Sara or Scott Ryder (the other is still in the game as your brother/sister) as the expedition finally arrives, 600 years later to begin colonization. But of course things go wrong right off the bat and you have to deal with them.
I would consider this game a “soft reboot” in that they’re not restarting the whole series they’re just starting new somewhere else. And if anyone played ME1 we know that starting from scratch can be…difficult. I’ve heard that Bioware has a hard time “starting” a new game (I only say “heard” because I haven’t played every single thing they’ve ever made, just Mass Effect) so with this “new” start it’s not at all surprising to me that the game is having trouble finding its footing. Nonetheless the overall plot feels decent and the goal of it is simple: find places to colonize, fight the bad guys, make friends.
With that in mind the game has gone back to its (original) RPG roots. You loot items off bodies and randomly find stuff throughout the world. You can modify your equipment how you like, more bullets, melee buff, better penetration, etc. You can craft as well and if you’re not in the mood for it you can just go out and buy it or hope you randomly find it. The downside is that the menu system, ignore the power wheel in combat, is extremely clunky. A painful example is researching, among others. If you research a level 1 gun you get that that research tag, then level 2 you get another research tag along with the previous guns tag. So that means instead of just upgrading that one gun, you’ll get 10 different tags for 10 different levels of that SAME GUN. And say you find three of the same gun while out on a mission, you’d think it’d say “Weapon x 3,” but in reality it says “Weapon,” “Weapon,” “Weapon.”
You get the Nomad, which is an improved version of the Mako from ME1. But of course you either loved that vehicle or you hated it in that game. I liked the idea of the Mako, being able to run around on planets and find things however the execution of that Mako was bad. There was no “direction” or hint to go out exploring, all the stuff you needed story-wise was already marked and anything else was just achievement hunting and with most of the planets having “Mount Everest style” hills everywhere there was no reason to spend the next 10 minutes going up a hill just to find another one on the other side. My hope was that the Nomad would be an improvement in that aspect and besides the fact that they took weapons completely off the vehicle they’ve done at least a little of what I wanted. Major point of interest (in other words stuff that matters to the story) are either already marked on the map or the “mission” you’re on shows you the objective marker. Drop pods that show up around the map, when activated/dropped, show you where mining zones are and if you get an upgrade you can see more if not all mining zones on the map. I like the Nomad, I like how she handles, and the classic “Mako Mountain Climbing” is still possible. Not with every steep climb but still a lot of them the Nomad can handle. The ability to switch between 6 Wheel Drive (slow, climb) and 4 Wheel Drive (Unable to Climb/Speed) as well as the upgrade to enable/disable traction control I like simply because the Mako ALWAYS felt so painfully slow, even when you were on completely flat ground it just felt like “Is there another gear? Please go faster.” But of course I completely understand the annoyance with this vehicle from people. If she was just another Mako copy (climb, crappy speed, weapons) I probably wouldn’t say anything other than “avoid this vehicle,” not that you could because the game is all about exploration so its main exploration vehicle is…say it with me: The Nomad. But of course it is just a reskin/upgrade/downgrade of the Mako but to me its better than that. Not amazing, but still better.
Okay lets get on the to smaller things then. The overall story is good to say the least. If it weren’t for the bad facial animations I could probably be more ingrained in personal stories like loyalty missions of squad mates. But when there faces constantly look like ghost faces (I call it that, permanently locked in shocked “I’ve seen a ghost” face) it really just ruins the moving moments I’ve had. I should be going “aw” or “oh” or “that was sweet/moving” and I think that but it doesn’t impact on a personal level cause all I see is “STOP THAT LOOK! THE GHOSTS ARE GONE!” For example, (minor spoiler here,) Cora is a bit of a “diehard fan” of her old Asari commando that she served under long ago (who is apart of the Asari group in Andromeda) and to Cora she can do no wrong. Then we find out what’s this commando has been doing since she got to Andromeda and Cora is shocked to the point she almost can’t believe it and suffice to say she has an emotional reaction to this commando of hers. All this time we’ve learned that Cora is more of a follower than a leader but she’s been wanting her moment of “it’s your turn to lead.” So when she comes to find out her Asari isn’t what she was, Cora has a moment where she realizes this, reacts, deals with it, moves on. (Spoilers end here) And even though her voice actor did a fantastic job conveying this with emotion, the animations just ruin this because it just seems like “I’m so pissed off!” Really? You just look like your face doesn’t know what to do. So even though some of the important scenes you see are “hand crafted” as it were, the facial animations still just ruin it. Some of the characters I like seem very fleshed out but the animations ruin any sense of “connection” with the player.
But again, the story is good, some of the squad mates are interesting, I personally love Peebee simply because she reminds me of an old “hyper” friend way back in high school but honestly, other than Liam (who isn’t expanded on at all,) the squad mates all have there unique personalities. But like previous Mass Effect game, in combat will have to be your personal liking. I bring Peebee along simply because I love her interactions with the other squad mates, especially Cora but Cora is a proper “I got this” squad mate combat-wise. Just as the previous games you should bring squad members that compliment your powers but if I’m honest, if you want to “win without doing anything,” bring at least Drack (Krogan) with you. He is very much a “anything that moves will die to my shotgun and blood rage” while Cora is a “anything that moves will die to my shotgun and biotic charge.”
But the combat system is a MASSIVE improvement over the previous titles. The only downside the auto crouch system and any rapid fire weapon (to me) seems to be pointless to have. When you pull out a weapon and get close to a wall you auto cover/crouch but you can’t couch otherwise by command and has been known to get you killed because you can’t get out of crouching easily.
As for the rapid fire weapons, those guns don’t seem to do enough damage against anything. Heavy pistols and snipers do a good job and the only rapid fire weapon I saw do a good job was an auto pistol that shoots at 950 rounds a minute but it empties all its ammo after about two or three targets but my favorite assault rifle (Revenant) seems to do almost nothing in the 90 rounds while the auto pistol gets half way through its 97 rounds and an elite is near death. Granted neither of these weapons are known for accuracy but it still feels wrong to have a pistol out damage an assault rifle.
APEX missions are nice. You can send out a group to go off and do a missions (protect a colony, find a spy, etc.) and if it was a success they come back with rewards for you. Credits, weapons, resources, it makes a nice addition to the game. Especially since some APEX missions you can play yourself in multiplayer and you can easily go to said mission without having to exit the single player and then load multiplayer. Multiplayer makes up for a lot too. If you liked ME3’s multiplayer, they’ve expanded it a bit. Instead of just a simple horde mode, now you have sub objectives such as “capture this” or “disable that” and if you don’t do it in time, the entire mission fails. And if you complete you mission, you get multiplayer and single player rewards, unless you sent out your team to do it for you in which case they only bring back single player rewards. There are only a few maps, more are on the way for free and maybe we’ll get some more missions that won’t just be horde missions. I’d love a mission that allows us to protect a squad mate who has to hack/open something akin to a heist or save civilians but we’ll see what happens in the future.
Now to sum up everything: this game is a love/hate relationship. I love mass effect, I love the powers and the guns and settings and all that, but the limitation of animations and only “decent” story line makes this game in the ME universe only so good. While the there are some good aspects of the game that make it stand out, the bad aspects make it not just “I don’t like it that part of the game” but an overall detraction of the game itself. If it had just been “the Mako sucks and some bad written dialog” like ME1 was it would’ve been okay but the animations are not just something you can ignore and very possibly will never be fixed until the next game.
With that being said, I am happy with the Andromeda. It’s a decent start to this soft reboot and hopefully they’ll learn from this and in the next one they’ll take the pluses and streamline them. But if I’m totally honest, I would suggest waiting for for the first sale to get this.
Please note: Now we have two Mass Effect games that need an exorcist. (Sorry no comparison shot, just enjoy class Shep.)
- Good Story
- Great combat
- Nomad (if you liked the Mako)
- Exploration heavy/No rush to finish story
- Multiplayer is good (Improved ME3 style)
- Can switch between classes on the fly
- More powers for all types of classes
- Beautiful planets and areas to visit
- Fantastic graphics
- Galaxy Map travel makes you feel like your on a moving ship
- ANIMATIONS! ((O)_(O)) "My face hurts"
- Space sudoku (to unlock alien systems)
- Nomad (if you disliked the Mako)
- Limited character creation
- Music is good but very much in the background
- Extremely clunky menus
- Animated transitions for almost everything
- CANNOT skip transitions
- Galaxy Map travel extremely slow, cannot be skipped
- Not 100% optimized
- Return of the exorcist shep