A bit of a mess, Andromeda over-reaches but manages to offer an enjoyable space opera rpg nonetheless.
Ill-judging one’s resources rarely happens during a so-called AAA game development. Big budgets and a throng of middle-management usually steer the development to a calculated if predictable place. Mass Effect: Andromeda didn’t arrive in one of those places, and it feels like a case example of trying to do too much with too little. Created by the “B-team” of Bioware in Montreal, Andromeda aims for the stars but falls a few light-years short of undoubtedly high expectations.
The premise has a strong pull right from the start. A fleet of massive colony ships leave the Milky Way galaxy towards Andromeda to set outposts and ultimately build new civilizations amidst the distant stars. The 600-year travel time in stasis means, that while the original trilogy did happen, it accounts for very little in this game. You play as the human pathfinder’s (basically the lead guy in new planet expeditions) son or daughter. And as things tend to do, everything goes more or less horribly wrong from there on out.
The storyline isn’t half bad if a bit predictable, but the delivery is what can kill the enjoyment for a certain group of people. There’s so much voice-acted lines, cut scenes and side missions that some come across very forced or phoned-in. Some of the facial animations and models are outright atrocious. If you’re more into the revamped combat and general exploration, it’s possible to look past the flaws in narrative design. If you play Mass Effect games for the story, this will be a hard one to swallow. On top of that, only a couple of characters from the expeditionary force stand out as interesting individuals with relatable goals or ambitions.
Fortunately, the new and more mobile combat mechanics plus huge amount of explorable locations deliver. You’re still free to snipe from cover if that’s your style, but the new jetpack allows for vastly improved dashing across the battlefield. You can do proper Death from Above -moves with shotguns or zip from left to right in effort to dodge bullets and return a few back at the enemies yourself. There are no set character classes either, so the players are free to build their own fighting style from gunplay, biotics (Mass Effect universe’s “spells”) and high-tech attacks. The customization doesn’t stop there, though, as you’re also able to craft a large variety of weapons and armor to enhance their particular sets of skills.
If you’re willing to suspend your disbelief during the janky cut scenes and immerse yourself in the combat and customization, Mass Effect: Andromeda has a lot to offer. Terraforming planets is motivating and feels worth your while. It is pity to see, however, that the scale of the ambition with Bioware Montreal hasn’t been matched with a necessary amount of resources. The solid core is still there, but the rough edges are showing.
Title: Mass Effect: Andromeda
Developer: Bioware Montreal
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Released: March 21st, 2017
Genres: RPG, action, adventure
Age Rating: PEGI 16