Mass Effect is a series that has received critical acclaim and commercial success for developer Bioware, the same company that gave us the Dragon Age series and one of the best Star Wars games to date, Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic. However when the original Mass Effect was released back in 2007, the title was looked over by gamers more than Bioware would have liked; but eventually the title did begin to pick up until it became a major hit. I for one cannot remember how many times I played each title in the series, which is its major selling point: Mass Effect is a title where if you want to play the entirety of the game, you must complete it multiple times as there are parts in the series where the choices you make will have lasting consequences and permanently set you on a path you can’t come back from, unless you play it over again or on a different save.
So in comes Mass Effect Andromeda, which was released earlier this week; however I was able to get it almost a day early, thanks to GameStop’s early release. Being the Mass Effect fan that I am, I immediately went home, stocked up on some Monster and began playing it….and was not very impressed to say the least.
Andromeda takes place in the Andromeda Galaxy; the human race, along with three other major races of the Milky Way Galaxy, created the Andromeda Initiative in an attempt to create a new life and settle in the Andromeda Galaxy. Due to time dilation and the extreme distance between our galaxy and Andromeda, the game actually takes place 634 years after its predecessors (the Initiative was actually created and launched in between Mass Effect 2 and 3). You play as Ryder (being your character’s last name that everyone refers to), who you have the choice of playing as a male or female version and customizing them; whichever version you choose to play, the counterpart, being your twin sibling, will also join your character in your adventures. As Ryder, you are given the title Pathfinder, which is basically the leader of the human race’s side of the Andromeda Initiative; it is your job to traverse the Andromeda Galaxy and find what are known as Golden Worlds to allow the human race to live on, all the while defending against a new alien race and threat simply known as the Kett.
Let’s just get this out of the way: the game was over hyped. Yes I couldn’t wait so I bought the EA Access membership so I could get early access to the title; I was thoroughly disappointed with the early access content, which still was very significant in scope and the amount of things you could do and the missions to complete. So when I finally got the game earlier this week, I noticed that some graphical issues were corrected and game fluidity was enhanced. However that was about it.
The game is massive in scale, perhaps rivaling Mass Effect 2 and 3’s content; various solar systems are unlocked as you progress in the main storyline, allowing you to discover more and more of Andromeda. However I still wish that the scope of the original Mass Effect be somewhat incorporated into this title, i.e. you could almost land on any planet you came across when exploring the Milky Way, which truly gave you a sense of vastness in planetary exploration, even if the newly discovered planet didn’t warrant any type of missions, it was still a nice thing to do. You can also see that the attention to detail in regards to character progression with your teammates has been revamped as well as you can get more personal, and yes intimate, with your crew. However one aspect that has been taken away is the paragon/renegade choice options that you got to experience in the previous three titles, which to this point I really haven’t noticed while playing Andromeda. But in a way it is kind of nice because now you don’t know if you’re making a right or wrong choice that could affect gameplay later on thus making you pay more attention to the choices you make in the game.
However I do have one bone to pick with Bioware: why the hell does the game look almost like an Xbox 360 title? Yes, if you put Andromeda up against any other Mass Effect title you can definitely tell the difference. But in some parts of the game, especially background content and even some of the characters you interact with, there are blooming and texture issues that almost make you think you’re playing the latest game on Xbox 360. It’s an aggravating thing to experience; you buy the next-gen consoles in order to play the latest titles, so you kind of expect the best out of the developers to deliver on their promises of releasing next-gen titles and content. And we’ll just say now that your player’s ship, the Tempest, is no Normandy, which is your player’s ship in the first three Mass Effect’s; and the Nomad, the vehicle you use to drive around on a planet, is just horrible to use. The damn thing can barely go up an incline, forcing you to use its 6-wheel drive. It makes me wonder why Bioware thought such a vehicle, and its mechanics, was a good idea to make.
Andromeda has a solid story and fluid pace when playing the main story line, however like any other Bioware RPG there is plenty to do when you you want to take a break from progressing in the story and want to explore and interact with various ecosystems and alien life. And when you truly want to flip the script you can play the multiplayer part of Andromeda, which in a way is like Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer and can influence your progress in Andromeda’s main story line, but only slightly. It’s still a fun aspect to play, however I was never big in the multiplayer part, but I would daresay that it’s a little fun to play.
Despite all the negatives that I have found so far in playing Andromeda I am still having plenty of fun engulfing myself with nostalgia from my earlier Mass Effect days and truly love how you get to experience a whole new galaxy that you don’t know what to expect from when exploring it. With a rock solid story, the vastness of the Andromeda Galaxy and the overall revamped gameplay, those that have played and played the Mass Effect titles may still be happy with Andromeda.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is out now.