Content of the article: "There is no getting around it; Mass Effect Andromeda is a poor game."
It seems like every year since the game came out there is hot debate about whether the game is 'really that bad' and if it 'deserves another shot with fresh eyes' and I'm going to say: It's pretty damn bad and it isn't really worth the time it asks of you.
First and foremost my full disclosure that I'm a huge Trilogy and extended universe fan. The first 3 mass effect games were not perfect but on balance as collection I can't think of a more impactful trilogy of games or a more well crafted sci-fi universe.
When Andromeda was announced I had mixed feelings. Sure I wanted a new Mass Effect game because I loved the franchise, but I did question if I needed a new Mass Effect game. Was I really ready to re-invest my attention, love and time into a new cast of character who almost certainly wouldn't be as memorable as the first?
I decided to just accept that I'd play it sooner or later so I wanted to give it a chance, I wanted to try and build cautious excitement for it. I should probably also say I completely ignored the development 'backlash' re-the facial animations and the Ess-Jay-Dubyoo reactionary shit. I never let these things colour my opinion of a game. Not FF7 Remake, not TLOU2 and certainly not a Mass Effect game.
So when I finally got the game I really wanted to give it a fair shake, despite there being things right off the bat I didn't like.
I really didn't like the opening, it felt cold, disconnected and frankly kind of rushed. I found it hard to get invested in the Ryders because they frankly just lack the subtle charm of Shepard. I also was not crazy about the 'Important Father' plot device that annoyed me in Fallout 3. But I stuck with it.
Then, finally after about 25ish hours into the game I gave up. I was bored and I saw no reason to keep playing. Andromeda was the first game I ever returned after getting halfway through it. I left it feeling angry both that I wasn't able to see the game through and that I wasted time trying to like it in the first place.
It wasn't the worst game I ever played, but it was a pointless, messy slog that missed the mark on basically everything that made the Trilogy special.
Now I think I should mentioned that I didn't find the story of the original Trilogy to be anything groundbreaking. It was a fairly standard 'ancient evil' action-adventure. But what made it stand out was the world building, and the story-telling. Andromeda lazily tries to re-hash the entire story of the Trilogy into one game and sacrifices any sincere attempt at world building which leaves the conflict feeling weightless.
When i played the Original Universe I felt I was part of a living breathing universe that was turning and developing independent of me. Andromeda had me colonizing empty, boring, barren planets in a universe devoid of any life or personality while I fought the most insultingly one-note B-movie race of 'baddie aliens' the Kett.
There is no getting around it, the Kett suck. They have no proper introduction so for a lot of the game you're wondering why the hell you are shooting at them other than the fact they are shooting at you. This is where I start disregarding arguments that it's a good game but just 'not a good mass effect game'. No. The Kett are just bad sci-fi villians, they belong in an a retro arcade shoot em up like Galaga, not in a Triple A franchise of any genre. But because they ARE apart of Mass Effect you are left wondering how they went from Saren to that.
I honestly don't hate the all of the cast of Andromeda that much. I really don't like Ryder, but then shepard casts a large shadow. Liam or Cora bored me but then so did Kaiden, Ashley, Jacob and Miranda.
Peebee was tolerable but kind of annoying and a clear pandering to the 'bet you can't wait to romance her!' crowd. Drak was okay, but I couldn't shake the feeling that if he was in the original Trilogy he'd be a quest giver character with maybe 20 mins of dialogue, and for that he just feels like a stretched out extra.
Vetra was my favourite. Garrus and the Turian race in general set high expectations with their unique writing and development and I think Verta did the race proud. She was funny, relatable and probably the only one who I looked forward to talking to, or was interested in what she thought.
Jaal sucked. I hated Jaal. Similar to the Kett he feels like watered down versions of what was interesting in the OT specifically Javik and Thane. Jaal is nowhere near as interesting or unique as either of them, precisely because he is so shamelessly modelled after them in personality and character. Apart from the annoying passive-aggressive Scottish religious woman I can't for the life of me remember any other character, so they must not have stood out.
Let's talk about the combat! This is the 'saving grace' of the game isn't it? It's so expansive and customizable, and it gets back to the more RPG roots of ME1, right?
Well, no. The combat is indeed more developed and there is far more freedom between class powers but this doesn't nessecarily make the game more fun when you look at the context it grants you these freedoms. Yes you have more powers to play around with, but when you spend you time fighting waves and waves of cookie cutter Kett mooks and the occasional bullet sponge charging beast the combat loses its tension.
Mass Effect OT had fairly simple combat in terms of functions but there was thought out map design for each encounter. When I was pinned down by enemy fire and being actively flanked by foes who could do some real damage up close I was having fun, I had to think on my feet, I had to think about which team mate could assist and from which angle. I had less freedom but more engagement.
In Andromeda if any enemy is giving me trouble I can leap out of danger or abuse some poorly designed structure or landscape to cheese combat encounters. No tension or excitement just different way to throw colorful effects at repetitive enemies.
This also becomes more glaring when you realise just how much damn combat you go through. Because of the nature of the planets and the awful 'go there, kill that' quests you burn yourself out on the encounters and fighting just becomes a slog. Combat encounters in mass effect should never feel like 'gameplay filler' they are supposed to immerse you in the dangerous world. Andromeda just plays like a subpar looter shooter. Nothing has any meaning.
Being a vast open universe isn't enough if there isn't places I want to explore. I spent time reading about planets in the original 3 games because the universe was bursting with character, it made the lore something to give a shit about. Andromeda just has worlds the look like standard video game levels.
Again I want it to be known I don't think Andromeda is the worst game ever made, I just think it fails to do what it's trying to do. There might have been an acceptable sci-fi romp game in there somewhere but the execution was terrible. And because of it, the series is literally dead now.
- SIB Star Wars Knights of the old Republic?
- Mass Effect 1 is a gaming classic that should be recommended more often (No spoilers)
- WSIB? A good story RPG?
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