Mass Effect: Andromeda (Game Review)
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.” -William Shakespeare (Henry V).
I will admit this at the beginning: I was not looking forward to the new Mass Effect universe. Call it an attack of nostalgia or a case of narrow-mindedness, if you wish. I care not. I am simply stating that the idea of another Mass Effect game seemed to me to be nothing more than a case of Bioware milking itself and its creation for every ounce of its worth.
That said, on discovering their plans for the game, my mood was somewhat improved. Indeed, I was glad that they did not simply carry on with another Commander Shepard story line, or indeed remain in Shepard’s galaxy. In fact, the idea that they have moved the entire game into a new galaxy and away from the Shepard universe is perhaps one of the games’ greatest saving graces.
Now the game, for those that do not know, takes place some centuries after Mass Effect 3, in the Andromeda galaxy -hence the title of the game. (Personally I would have called it Mass Effect 4: The Quest For More Money). Now into this new galaxy you add a number of “ark” ships packed with all the old familiar aliens who have moved to a new home with the intention of setting up a new Citadel type society. Obviously there are a number of new alien races -some nice, some not so nice, all a little familiar. (Think ersatz Reaper/Geth hybrids, an alien version of a watered down Cerberus, and some sort of half-arsed Collector type species.)
Now on top of this wonderful mix of new races, places, weapons, biotics (They took some of the classic ones out), armours and a lot of systems to explore, they have given you a new Sherpard-esque human character, named Scott or Sara Ryder, to lead the peoples of Andromeda towards a better future by unlocking a grand backstory, helping the poor, saving the innocent, exploring new worlds, doing side-quests and… It sounds pretty much a Commander Shepard story arc without the Reapers and the threat of intergalactic genocide, doesn’t it?
Anyway, regardless of the games extreme familiarity with its cousins, Mass Effect: Andromeda does have a number of new and interesting additions. For one, they have given you a massive galaxy to explore. There are numerous systems each with a large number of worlds to have a look at; each of these worlds has vast areas to poke around on. (Some of these areas are larger than anything from Dragon Age 3).
There are a host of new friends to spend your time with -and even romance. (No space strippers though.) There are a myriad of quests -some long, some short, some that lead you to a dozen more. God, there must be over 100 hours of questing and exploring available. Who knows how much the DLC’s will add?
Another nice element is that the game has done away with the old fashioned character “specialisation” instead allowing the player more freedom to create a personal biotic/gun welding human-weapon.
Now the game does suffer from a number of issues. The multiplayer is, at present, a right balls up. The game can become stilted and rather tedious. (100+ hours of flying around and doing quests could get a little annoying). Some of the graphics look horrendous or at the very least badly rendered; and a good number of the races and characters look like they are made from the cast-offs from Mass Effect 1 to 3. There are also no more scantly clad alien ladies in pubs. This is not a major issue, but it has upset some Asari lovers.
I’ve also spoken to a number of friends and colleagues who, although getting joy from the game, have questioned its rather hefty price tag. R1000 (100 Dollar-Pounds) is quite a substantial sum of money for a video-game that is rife with bugs, inconsistent levels and gameplay, and a rather hackneyed and cliche storyline. But if you have nothing else to play, then you might just want to have a go at it.
That said, Mass Effect: Andromeda is a decent little game that is full of entertaining characters, incredibly fun and interesting quests, unique concepts, all of which help give any fanboy a massive shot of Mass Effect nostalgia that they can inspire into their biotic filled veins.
Bottom line, it’s fun and entertaining. It’s not the best game ever made, but it is far from the worst. If you like Mass Effect, then get this game.