Mass Effect finally returns some five years after the Mass Effect trilogy ended in 2012. Now Mass Effect is back but set in a whole new galaxy and with new characters. Does Mass Effect Andromeda hold up the series good name or has the series taken a turn for the worse?
Mass Effect Andromeda in terms of its gameplay handles much like its predecessors. So stepping into your characters shoes certainly feels similar, if you can remember past experiences from the original trilogy. However this time in certain areas it feels different, and sadly not for the better. Of course, the shining light here is Andromeda’s combat which is fluent and fast, all while being the tactical shooter we remember.
The combat here really puts players in situations where your tech and biotic powers are a must to use in battle, and I honestly can’t remember using them this much in the previous trilogy. Andromeda really does shake up the combat here so you always have various ways you can go about a fire fight you’re in. As a result of these combat changes I found myself exploring the world more and trying out many different varieties of combat styles with tech and biotic powers to help me get through conflict.
The downside sadly is that you’re only given 3 mappable powers to choose from during combat, and it can be a real struggle to know which 3 to select when there are so many to choose from. Another helpful tool addition to your arsenal is your jump jets that allow you to jump and dash, which really comes in handy during combat. You’ll see yourself leaping from behind cover and lunging out to reach your enemies, all whilst taking advantage of those biotic powers to finish off your enemies. This makes the combat go from being a tactical shooter at times to a fast paced battle using biotic powers which is a great combat mechanic. Aside from the various different guns on offer here that you can use, you’re also still able to take part in melee combat. Further into the game you can also use a sword of sorts instead of your omni blade during combat which is pretty cool.
At the beginning of the game you’re allowed to choose from one of the games standard male or female characters that you would have seen in the games main trailers, or you can create your own custom human character. Of course, the character design tools you’re given aren’t great, even some of the custom designs you can chose from are very strange looking. Thankfully you can play around more with the design of your Armor in game, which adds just a little bit more of that personal touch. Andromeda makes up for these small shortcomings when it hands you the keys and allows you to customize your character’s statistics to your liking. You’re not stuck to just one type of class, you can switch it up and see what style you best like to play with.
As you venture out to discover new worlds, some of these worlds you land on are truly massive and contain a lot of side missions and team based loyalty missions for you to find and complete. Loyalty missions help to strengthen the bond you have with members on your team. There are plenty of things to do on these planets so you’re never stuck with having nothing to do. Planet exploration is a huge part of Andromeda and a lot of it is done by driving around in your Nomad vehicle which can be a lot of fun. You can also go around mining resources to help with upgrading and selling items at stores in hub worlds.
In terms of the user interface which I personally found to be a cluttered mess which was quite daunting at first. You’ll eventually get used to it but I feel there was a better design choice that certainly could have been made here. A potential draw back (depending on your perspective) was the repetitive platforming puzzle dungeons that have strangely enough Sudoku puzzles to open locked doors. I guess these ancient races really liked their Sudoku! The villains in Andromeda aren’t great and sadly to me at least, the main heroic characters aren’t much either. I always found myself thinking “boy I miss Sheppard and the team”. But I will say that your character has much more charm than Sheppard ever did. So much so that the male character sounds a lot like voice actor Nolan North, which it isn’t but thankfully at times the male character reminded me of Nathan Drake which broke the mould at times. Sex..ahem.. is very present here, if romancing aliens or fellow humans are your thing then you get a lot of it here.
Multiplayer is back and Mass Effect 3 fans will be pleased with what’s on offer here. Whether multiplayer is something you feel Mass Effect as a series needs, it’s a feature that’s present in Andromeda by popular demand. For me personally the multiplayer aspect is something that I don’t actively pursue, however it is nice to see it back on offer here for those who enjoy it. It’s a horde mode of sorts so for fans of that style of multiplayer you’ll be happy with what has been implemented here.
Graphics & Sound
Mass Effect Andromeda has certainly not lived up to the standard set by previous titles in the series in terms of the games animation. Andromeda is by far the worst of the series in terms of the quality of that animation which includes lip synching issues as well. This is rather disappointing given the development time was well over 5 years and the games budget was a staggering $40 million dollars. I must ask, what the bloody hell happened? Andromeda is simply not up to the next generation standard that gamers expect, and that expectation is not unreasonable especially when previous titles already achieved that standard. Certain character models looked like they hired the character designer from The Sims 3. The worlds can be bland as well.
At the beginning of the game whilst on board your shuttle, you go past asteroids outside that look like somebody just downloaded a badly pixelated image off of google and threw it in the game. There are numerous bugs and glitches as well. I can’t believe what has been released. It seems almost unfinished and that is completely unacceptable. Bioware says fixes are on the way, however at the time of this review the patch is simply not available. During my play through my character has fallen through the world and my characters neck has somehow managed to extend to super human lengths. Sound at times died during the game as well, Andromeda really comes across to me as an unfinished game thanks to all of these issues.
Mass Effect: Andromeda has the potential to be a great game with solid story and excellent combat mechanics. However this is overshadowed by the poor dialogue, voice synchronisation issues and interactions with other characters which let the game down immensely. Essentially Mass Effect: Andromeda feels in many ways like an unfinished title that really should not have been released until these issues were addressed. Yes a patch is on the way shortly that will hopefully address the issues, but for the many gamers that purchased Andromeda at launch, it’s too little too late. I had high hopes for Andromeda but unfortunately having suffered through these shortcomings it’s a title that I cannot recommend until many of the issues are fixed.