RATING: Flawed but enjoyable and captivating
Mass Effect: Andromeda takes place after the events of Mass Effect 2 in a nice little sidestep from the galaxy changing events of Mass Effect 3. The Andromeda initiative transports several Arks of Milky Way races on a 634 year journey to the Heleus Cluster with a goal of settling new worlds. Things naturally don’t go to plan, because… well… video games. This is where you come in. You play Ryder, who along with your twin follow your Pathfinding father in to the initiative, presumably in an attempt to finally win his love and affection. When shit hits the fan you are there on the frontlines and get thrown into a story involving an evil race seeking total domination and a separate ancient, long gone race who have left lots of misunderstood technology lying around (sounds a little familiar right?)
“The truth is this is just more Mass Effect, which is no bad thing in my opinion.”
It is fair to say that Andromeda has had a decent share of negative reviews, with its substandard animations alone causing countless memes. Then there is the generic side missions, the character graphics and the new dialogue system. I will be straight up and admit all the negativity surrounding Andromeda had very nearly dissuaded me from taking the 634 year journey from the Milky Way. I persevered however, the original trilogy meant too much to me to throw it all away on some negative press. And you know what, I’m glad I did.
It all felt so familiar, more of an expansion than a reboot for the series. I think this is how a lot of people have misjudged Andromeda. By expecting a massive reboot to the series bursting with new features, a whole galaxy of new races to interact with and “romance” (using romance in the loosest possible terms here) and combining this with next gen graphics set the bar very high for this game. The truth is this is just more Mass Effect, which is no bad thing in my opinion. Plus by adding the new cover system and a refreshed way of upskilling Ryder, this made combat a lot more enjoyable. A new addition which didn’t impress however was the dialogue system. The traditional Mass Effect Renegade and Paragon system has been scrapped in favour of a new 4 part system separating responses in to: Professional, Casual, Logical and Emotional. The new dialogue options felt like they made very little difference to Ryder’s personality, or by extension, other characters responses. Sometimes the citizens of Andromeda need a good Renegading which instead I just had to imagine myself doing. I couldn’t even act violently to the Nexus reporter!
“Sometimes the citizens of Andromeda need a good Renegading…”
After 50 hours I was still working my way through some pretty standard and somewhat unimaginative side missions being dished out by some uninteresting and instantly forgettable characters, which quite frankly I didn’t really see any benefit for including in the game. But I was still doing it! Why?! There was something so captivating that kept me going. Perhaps it was the beautiful planets (which are stunning by the way, particularly Havaarl), or maybe it was the impression that every little damn thing could impact the ending (a thought process instilled in me after the Mass Effect 2 final mission). Whatever it was I just kept grinding, and once I reached completion and witnessed some pretty impressive cinematics in the closing mission, I actually felt satisfied. What more can you ask for from a game with such harsh press? It may not be the series reboot that people wanted (or for that matter the studio wanted) but it’s still worthwhile for fans of the original and will definitely get a replay out of me.