Mass Effect Andromeda Review – The mediocrity of space

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Mass Effect Andromeda
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I’m surprised to be reviewing this game if I’m honest. As it happens, this game is free with EA Access. The only reason I played this is I accidentally renewed my EA Access. Should’ve cancelled it, I know, but I forgot about it. So, without further ado, lets take a look at a new game. I know right! A brand new game to be reviewed! Oh, how I wish it was any good though.

Lets just get all two, yes, two, of the positives out the way. The main one being that the combat was substantial. That’s all it was. It wasn’t amazing, it wasn’t terrible. Somehow the combat manages to amount to just a simple acknowledgement of it actually being available in the game. At least it worked. Of course, at the same time it was the same run of the mill we’re expecting. But when compared to the rest of the game some solid shooting was an absolute godsend.

Alongside the barely substantial combat was actually the fact that when you fell off of things you would instantly respawn. Honestly I don’t know how that is a positive to the game. At that point I was scraping the bottom of the barrel for positives and that was what came out. Yeah, so there’s maybe about a second of time between death and respawn when falling off of objects. Now the only reason I found out about this was because I dropped my controller because I’m a clumsy tit. Still, a nice little bonus I suppose.

You’d be mistaken for thinking these are just general background characters, considering they wear exactly the same outfit.

 

What I noted before I even began the actual game was a lack of customisation options. Not an entire lack, however compared to the previous games in the trilogy it really pales in comparison. In the original games you could basically change anything you like about Shepard, as far as memory serves me you could anyway. I really must get around to reviewing the other two in the series. Anyways we’ve got a sore spot overall and we can choose from nine different presets and from there change our hair and that’s about it.

For those that haven’t played the series before, then fear not! An exposition fuelled, lengthy cutscene will play. And don’t worry, they’re all one after another. After twenty or so minutes the cutscenes are really dragging themselves on and I didn’t bother looking for a skip button. Mainly because I was trying to invest myself in the story, but to no avail. To get a good stance on the story, you can’t just slap a load of lengthy cutscenes together. That isn’t how pacing works.

One of these many cutscenes actually attempted humour at one point. I’m sure what could have been a very funny joke was thwarted by a deviously bad voice cast. More on those later. But humour is attempted to a certain extent throughout. Not very well I suppose, but I don’t know if this is down to the voice acting or the writing itself. To be fair, it depends what your sort of humour is, people have varying degrees of what they find funny. So why try it in such a broad game? This is a serious space shooter with a light hearted twang apparently.

A serious lack of images for Mass Effect Andromeda, similarly there’s a distinct lack of humour too.

Actually, we can use that image above to signify what I think of the graphics of the game as a whole. Personally, I didn’t think the game looked very good at all. You may be fooled by the screenshots, but believe me if you played the game for yourself your opinion would soon change. It might just be my eyes to be honest. I play such a large variety of games and at this rate it just blurs together. The cutscenes looked even worse than this. It was just a shimmering and dull display of what the game couldn’t offer in actual gameplay.

This game is hugely known for being so bloody comical. Mainly because of its horrific lip syncing. Apparently it’s disgustingly bad, and yes, I agree with these statements. It’s down right disturbing how it can be so bad. In the opening scenes of the game, you need to set the tone. So a glossy, terrible looking Star Trek rip-off with the novelty of a paddle-ball thing. Actually, you’d probably have a lot more fun with those, mainly because they’re better crafted than this tripe. Overall, they’re sort of like that 50s Godzilla where the mouth just unhinges at the jaw and flails about like a wacky inflatable tube man.

Poor syncing aside, they somehow managed to mess up the different options available during speech. There are now four different options for speech, and only two of them are available sometimes. So if you want to go for a playthrough where you lack compassion and knowledge, well, tough shit. You have to pick one of the four options, and only two are available most of the time. On top of that, it’s always going to be a mix and match of what you choose. You will never be able to go down a specific route of dialogue choices.

What I’ve noticed is that the character you play as is a hell of a lot less charming than Shepard. Shepard was basically a robot who would range from being an over emotional cretin to a tough as boots captain. There was no in between and it was comical genius that went with the game so well. On the other hand, you play as Ryker. Or Ryder. I’m not sure, I couldn’t remember because it was so forgettable. Regardless of bland generic man, I couldn’t shake the loss of Shepard and that really hindered the game for me.

I know this is a small thing to pick up on, but you have to hold Y to interact with basically anything in this game. It was an absurd change that never sat well with me through playing this game. Maybe it’s because I’m used to one click of the A button doing everything. I guess these are the times we live in. Maybe I just have to wait those extra few seconds or buy the A button with microtransactions. Who knows to be honest. It was annoying to a weird extent.

Talking to people was awkward for the sake of being awkward.

My thoughts on this game were set very early on. Mainly because it was just one of those moments that the game could never possibly recover from. When you have to scan a generator to see what is wrong with it, there was a floating woman. Just, floating. I’m presuming she didn’t mean to float, but she did. It wouldn’t have even mattered too much if this character was hidden to some description, but no, I looked up at the platform she was on and she was a good few feet off of the ground. Now I do have a point to explaining this, somewhere. I guess it just shows that the game has small problems that amount to bigger things. If you can’t put an AI on the ground then can you really be trusted to make such a big game?

Arguably the most important part of any game is being able to make relatable characters. Without those, the player will not be invested, like me. I wasn’t invested because the characters may as well have been cutouts of the cast of Scrubs but all voiced by Nolan North in an echo-y room. What I mean by that is that the game struggles to make anyone relatable in any way, but to be fair so did the first three games. Shepard wasn’t relatable, but at least there were one or two characters I did actually like, such as Garrus. This game is just filled to the brim with people trying to get into the spotlight when nobody really cares.

There was a definite sense of convenience for conveniences sake. You’ve been awoken from 600 years of sleep. How convenient that five minutes later you discover the planet you were aiming for. And of course because you just woke up and haven’t been offered a coffee, you’re thrown onto a ship, which crashes. Because if it didn’t crash then everything would have gone well and there wouldn’t have been a tutorial. It’s also convenient that your father is the one that raised you and your twin sister because your mother is dead for the revelation of plot development.

Why was the ship called Hyperion? Are they trying to rip off Borderlands or something? I can only presume and hope so, because that means they’ve tried to rip off a much better game. I suppose it also speaks wonders of unoriginality if we’re just cropping bits of Borderlands and smacking them into your own game.

There was a cutscene early on in the game that just spoke wonders of how little I was going to be invested into the game. Your helmet cracks, a moment of peril is presented. Don’t worry, you can auto-heal helmets. Well, in cutscenes you can anyway, you can’t break your helmet outside of gameplay. I’m not sure what the point of the cutscene was if the peril is dealt with in a moments notice. Riptor or whatever his name was just holds his arm up to his face and boom he’s fine.

I mentioned a while ago that the faces in this game are horribly comical. Well, don’t worry because the voice acting is too. An unsurprising turn of events led to the worlds most boring voice cast. Some audio qualities sounded a lot better or worse than others, and some were a lot more talented than others. Too bad the talented voice actors didn’t appear in the first few hours, otherwise this game may have been a hell of a lot better.

Aliens are bad. Why? Because we need a new enemy.

You know aliens? Right, they’re always bad aren’t they? Well that is the logic of Mass Effect: Andromeda. We crash land on an alien planet and our kneejerk reaction is to shoot the living hell out of every breathing thing. Mainly because humans are the best, but also because we need an enemy to shoot at. Without aliens what are we going to shoot at? Well, we could’ve had some depth to these characters. For a while they’re just known as “Unknown”. There isn’t a threat, but there is now because we shot at the poor sods. It’s a matter of shooting aliens because they aren’t human, and that isn’t grounds to start a new enemy for the franchise.

It’s just one cutscene after another. Your character progresses through major changes within cutscenes and you don’t get a choice. You could be asked what we should do about a planet and your character could blurt out “we should bomb them”, just because the developers couldn’t be arsed to code in a second option where you don’t do that.

Overall.

Overall, Mass Effect Andromeda was confusing, boring and just bad. There was far too much going on all at once and because of this it really made the negatives stand out more than they should have. The combat is really the only thing I can warrant a compliment and that wasn’t even very good. Still, it’s not degrading to the point of unplayable. The controls work to an extent, even if the jumping in this game works as well as a jam and wasp sandwich.

A dreadfully poor story when compared with the older games along with terrible voice acting allowed this game to amount to nothing. It takes a lot to make a man wish for a remastering, but can we just have the original trilogy on one disc now? That’d be fantastic, and I’m more than willing to trade this game in for that. Oh wait, I played the trial of this game. Now that’s ten hours I will never get back.


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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Mass Effect Andromeda
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Ewan Gleadow
I've been writing for various different places for roughly four or five years now. Currently focusing my writing on film reviews, politics and occasional game reviews. Hopefully you enjoy my work, be sure to contact me if you have any criticisms or praise.

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