Mass Effect: Andromeda Reviews

AuthorReview
StephenGamesXB1
187,616 (114,292)
StephenGamesXB1
TA Score for this game: 1,631
Posted on 14 April 17 at 15:39
This review has 7 positive votes and 3 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Mass Effect is a series with a remarkable DNA to it. Story, dialogue, unique characters, and cover-based combat ooze out of the original trilogy. It's unfortunate then that Mass Effect Andromeda would come along and do one thing fantastically, one of these mostly well, and have the other two make you worry that something went wrong.

Mass Effect Andromeda sees humanity and other races of the Milky Way galaxy create the Andromeda Initiative and leave their home for the closest neighboring galaxy, Andromeda. The story launches them towards Andromeda in the middle of the Mass Effect trilogy, ensuring that choices made in the previous games aren't made void by an overwhelming canon. Six hundred years pass and the humans end up arriving in Andromeda to a wake-up call forcing your character, Ryder, to wake up and take on the seemingly impossible: find a new home.

The story has Ryder coming upon multiple facilities called vaults that he can use in order to shape the nearby worlds and make them a home. Trying to bar the way towards colonization is a race of beings called the Kett that serve as the game's primary villains. You also make a rival out of a particular Kett known as the Archon. On paper facing the Kett is a welcome challenge, however, it doesn't take a lot of your time. The main story should take most players 20 hours or less if you want to breeze through. The side missions however are padding to the game's time. Take for example my playthrough. With a completion percentage of 91, I spent nearly 68 hours in single-player. Side missions are plentiful enough that you will rarely have no objective you could meet, but they come at you fast and hard. But the number of side missions makes me believe that the main quest line could've been beefed up. However, the beginning and end of Andromeda stand out as great dramatic acts that pull you in.

Much has been made of the technical issues that have risen at Andromeda's launch. And while part-way through my play through a patch was released that eased on some of the issues, many still linger. Among the issues still persisting, textures failing to load correctly, abnormal camera angles after fast traveling, and a few game crashes of unknown origin. On one particular set of missions, I also witnessed a squad member unable to fight as she was stuck in a basic model pose the entire time I was on the planet. It was amusing, sure, but if there were bigger fire fights going on, I would've had a bigger issue on my hands. It still feels like a laundry list of issues that should've been worked out already, or led to a slight delay in Andromeda's release. Despite these issues however, the environments of the Andromeda galaxy are truly wonderful to behold, and are easy desktop wallpaper fodder.

Sound and music in Mass Effect Andromeda are for the most part great. Sounds of combat and loud and ferocious and draw you right in with gusto. Along with that, voice acting across the board is superb with special recognition from me going to Nyasha Hatendi for voicing Jaal, and Christine Lakin for voicing Peebee. Both of these characters had the added benefit of having some of the better dialogue in the game, but also the best performances. The same however, can't be said for the music of Andromeda. I found the music serviceable in combat, but during moments to be filled with wonder or triumph it seemed lacking, especially when compared to the memorable themes from the trilogy.

More than any single component, Mass Effect Andromeda gets it's combat spot on though. Cover is still an important aspect, but steps are taken to encourage the player to move around the battlefield instead of picking a spot and calmly picking enemies off. It serves to make the combat very enjoyable, slicker, and faster then before. Unlike the original trilogy, you also don't need to worry so much about your class, as you can swap between them on the fly to strengthen certain abilities. As you earn levels, you can unlock all of the available skills if you so choose. It makes for incredible versatility especially when you realize that you can change these at any time through the menus.

Though when you do need to go through the menus it is a tedious task to find what you are after. The various quests are split between 4 different menus and you can't simply push a button and browse the different categories. Further, the quests aren't organized by time, you acquired them, but alphabetically. It leads to a little bit of confusion and a lot of frustration. Further, you can only track a single quest a time, making it difficult to work on the huge number of side quests. However, I came upon multiple issues of quests not tracking correctly and either not showing me points of interest to complete the quest, or showing portions I already finished.

Mass Effect Andromeda's multiplayer though is very light on the menus, and big on the fluid combat featured in the main campaign. The objectives are very much the same as they were for Mass Effect 3, you work with three other players to face waves of enemies with some objectives and a final extraction to mark a completed mission. I greatly advise that if you want to try the multiplayer, to get most of the way through the campaign first. Not understanding how the combat works and not knowing what your preferred play-style is, turned out to be a recipe for disaster. Despite the great playability, I don't presently see much reason to come back to the mode beyond an initial curiosity. I have hope that this will change with worthwhile DLC.

Achievements for Mass Effect Andromeda can be described as generous. A good 19 of the 55 achievements are tied to major quests, while the majority of the rest reward experimentation in combat by mixing and otherwise using the various powers available to you. Only one achievement makes any mention of "multiple playthroughs", and other achievements are able to be unlocked through single-player or multiplayer. I find this to be a plus, since it allows for many different play preferences to possibly unlock all the achievements.

Mass Effect Andromeda tries so hard to win the player over, but throughout it's technical issues, and extreme padding with side missions mar a solid shooter core, and a mediocre RPG layer. Andromeda in fact, may have the thinnest RPG layer in the Mass Effect series to date. Instead it is first, foremost, and specializes in being a third-person shooter. Fans of previous moral quandaries (such as my favorite side quest from ME1, Samesh Bhatia) will be disappointed as well, as I noted only two truly gray decisions to be made in my playthrough.

Andromeda doesn't feel like it's aiming for any one goal but is here because it was expected to be. As a result, the RPG portions of Andromeda suffer, despite how wonderfully realized the combat is. There's a true discord in Andromeda, and I can only hold out hope that a renewed RPG focus takes center stage in the inevitable sequel.

Graphics: 6/10
Sound: 8/10
Gameplay: 7/10
Achievement Difficulty: 5/10
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FullMoonBeaver
453,603 (279,691)
FullMoonBeaver
TA Score for this game: 650
Posted on 16 April 17 at 10:38
This review has 8 positive votes and 6 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Mass Effect: Andromeda Review
Developed by: Bioware
Published by: EA

Mass Effect. A trilogy that Bioware have lovingly crafted with depth and structure giving us a story on an intergalactic scale, following the journey of Commander Shepard as humanity venture forth into the unknown of the Milky Way. From the First Contact war with Turian, to the destruction of the Reapers. Forming friendships an enemies along the way with the various species the Milky Way had to offer. From Quarians, to Krogans and more. A wide variety of cultures rich in diversity and their stance towards humans. Shepard became an iconic character within the gaming industry, and Bioware stamped their mark on narrative driven games. Now the Shepard era has drawn to a close, and it's time to introduce us to a new name. Not just one though, but two. Scott and Sarah Ryder. The Offspring of Pathfinder Alec Ryder, whose job it was to deliver an Ark of humans to Andromeda who have been kept in Cryo for over 600 years. Signs were good, the races of the Milky Way had marked worlds for colonisation and left the Milky Way for good. Safe in the knowledge that they would have a new home once they woke.

This is when your adventure starts. For the sake of spoilers, I will look to avoid talking to much about the story. But whether you choose Scott or Sarah, they will become the new Pathfinder for Humanity. The journey to Andromeda despite travelling at FTL speeds, still took 600 years, and in that much time, things can and inevitably will change. What comes to be known as The Scourge has affected the Andromeda galaxy on a massive scale. Not only that, but a mysterious race that is known as the Remnant have left their mark across the galaxy. Chaos and​ disarray are rampant once you're out of Cryo. Civilty has gone, people have gone rogue and mutinied resulting in exile. This is not the wake up call you expect.

The first thing you will notice about Mass Effect Andromeda, is the detail on the first world you land on. Running on the Frostbite engine, you just know that you're in for a visual experience that not many other developers can offer. Controlling Ryder is different than it was from the previous trilogy also. Gone is the short sprint, and replaced with a constant spring in you decide to stop. A jump feature is implemented thanks to a boost from your armour, allowing you to reach high ledges or cross otherwise impassable gaps. Finally, you have been given a scanner to, well scan environmental objects and creatures within the thriving game world.

With the variety of the Milky Way's alien species totalling 11 if I have my facts correct. Andromeda is less populated by alien species. The Kettle and the Angara are who you will encounter within the galaxy. But what about the species that come with you? Surely that adds some variety? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Gone are the Batarians, Drell, Hanar, Elcor, Bolus and the Varen. They have been left behind and almost all but forgotten. Aside from some mentions from a conversation I heard between Peebee and Drack. This pairing ha great synergy with each other as I traversed alien worlds with the Nomad. Which I have to say is far more enjoyable an experience than the Mako. So Andromeda does feel empty by comparison, which does leave interaction with Anagaran's as the mist alien to you. The reason for a lack of Milky Way species is given early on, but never mentioned thereafter.

The game has remained a lot of what made the original trilogy fun for me at least, and given it a makeover. The journey between systems now happens in real time, an since release has been given a patch allowing you to skip this if need be. Exploring systems is still allowed, but now it's on current gen consoles, it looks so much better. So what's changed here? Well scanning planets is not the way to acquire resources. That is down to exploring planets you can land on, and calling in mining bots to drill for resources. No big deal right? Well, there does seem to be fewer locations to land on and explore. In defense of this, worlds are bigger, and there are more missions to undertake. But with the lack of new species and worlds to discover, you will be left with little reason to visit new solar systems. Scanning planets was a fun objective to kill some time, an now it feels like an after thought. Very little in the way of information has been included about these new worlds, and this became less important to me as the game went on. Also, nearly every planet seems to have a set of rings orbiting it. A bit much and boring to see after a while. Another missing feature that I enjoyed, was when searching the Codex, that well known voice over reading the information to you has vanished. I would regularly listen to this as I ate my tea, or busy tidying up after the kids. Not a huge loss for some, but it's those little things that can add so much.

With that out of the way, there is still a lot of good about this journey with the Ryder clan. The Tempest is now your vehicle of choice, and is more streamlined in every way. You can access different floors without the need for a loading screen, and have a full crew to interact with and earn loyalty from between missions. Aside from them, only 2 pilots and an engineer make up the rest of your crew that cannot be taken with you on missions. The layout is not confusing either. But what has been included is the Research and Development console. Make sure you have your resources though if you want to craft bigger and better weapons. There is also a traders console nearby, so you don't always have to go and find a merchant on a planet.

As with previous installments, the voice acting is comprised of a wide cast and performs well. I chose male Ryder, and despite hesitancy at first, given I was a big Shepard fan, Scott Ryder performed admirably an he grew on me as Pathfinder. In fact, the crew on the whole was great. Each bringing their own unique personality to the table. Betta, a female Turian is no Garrus, but then she means never meant to be. Different in every way except race. Peebee, your Asari squad mate is also different from Liara. Fun, random and a breath of fresh air with her inquisitive nature. Drack is your Krogan, and like other Krogan. But different again with his old age making him the butt of jokes and jibes from Peebee. He's around 1000 years old after all. Talk to them, an even if you aren't their biggest fans at first, you will find that they slowly grow on you.

The amount of game time for the Story is vast. I clocked in at just under 50 hours, and that's without completing every mission and still leaving 2 planets without 100% viability. There is a huge amount to undertake, and you can easily lose yourself. Sure there isn't as many new locations to visit as there could have been, nor is there a rich selection of alien life either. But Mass Effect Andromeda isn't a game you should miss out on either. No doubt we will see more with the obvious DLC that will happen, as is Bioware's tendency to give us more. But I do hope we see more single player content being added. A new race would be ideal, as would new planets to explore. Not that the ones we have are a disappointment, as they are all diverse in their own way.

The story itself is well written and executed, building up to the finale in a way that pumps the adrenaline. But once the Archon has been dealt with, it left me feeling kind of deflated. An anti climax I guess you could say. A great villain, but the means of his defeat is what I had issues with. But the setting of Meridian is stunning, and the build up more than make up for it.

The skill trees are deeper this time around, and distribution skill points across Combat, Tech and Biotic can help you grow your Ryder exactly how you want. Gone is the option to be stuck with just one profile, such as Vanguard. You can change on the fly, which offers different buffs to Ryder. If you're not happy with your choice, then just visit the medbay of the Tempest and change them.

Summary
I did encounter frequent frame rate problems when driving the Nomad, where the game would freeze for a second or two. Aside from this, I didn't notice anything that would cause problems for anyone. Ryder as the protagonist is well designed, and likable. Voice acted more than satisfactorily, and becomes a character you know will go on to greater things in the future. The cast of your crew is also fresh and exciting, giving Mass Effect Andromeda a platform to stand on for others to take notice. Will it succeed the incredibly popular Mass Effect trilogy that preceded it? Only time will tell, but it's off to a good start in its new home. Just needs some fleshing out and new species, whether that be in the form of DLC or the next installment.

Pro's
• Fluid movement and controls
• Skill trees are far superior
• The Nomad is a joy to use
• Visuals are immense
• Peebee is funny and witty

Cons
• Lack of planet information
• No reason to go and explore new systems
• Lack of new planets to explore
• Lack of new and old species
• Frame rate when driving the Nomad

Gameplay - 9
Audio - 8
Graphics - 9
Replay Value - 8
Value for Money -9
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Le Schwab 117
76,414 (53,456)
Le Schwab 117
TA Score for this game: 978
Posted on 23 April 17 at 21:17
This review has 5 positive votes and 3 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
After playing for 64 hours, I finally beat Mass Effect: Andromeda. I wrote my first impressions in an earlier blog post pointing out the positives and negatives of the game. Now that I’m finally finished, I will note my overall opinions of Mass Effect: Andromeda.

http://www.gamingwithdepression.com/mass-effect-andromeda-re...

For the first five or so hours, I did not like Mass Effect: Andromeda at all. I had no clue who I was or what I was doing. I was thrown into the action right away, but there was little explained to me along the way. This may have had to do with Bioware wanting to jump right into a new galaxy and having players experience the sheer chaos of it. I can understand that, but I would have liked a little more explaining while I was playing.

The settling of Eos was a great highlight for me. Going around the planet in the improved Nomad was really fun. Solving the Remnant puzzles and defeating the Kett really made me feel like I was taking back a planet to colonize. I decided to settle Eos with a military outpost instead of a science outpost because I wanted to make sure that the Kett didn’t come back and destroy the new settlement (The Kett wiped out the first settlement on Eos before Ryder visits for the first time). I was interested to see if this decision would affect other parts of the game, but it did not. One of the first big decisions I made didn’t make a difference at all.

The other planets suffered from doing more of the same. Each planet needed to have their atmosphere changed through Remnant space magic, and after that happened the Nexus would send down a settlement. It was rinse and repeat for five planets.

The planets themselves were all different and had different environmental hazards which was fun to deal with because too much radiation exposure would kill you in seconds. However, with life support consumables, the environmental hazards seemed like an afterthought. At one point during the game, I had over 20 life support consumables, so it took away the environmental threats I faced. The planets also suffered from having the same Kett outposts scattered all over the place. They literally looked like they were copied and pasted from other planets. I don’t like seeing reused assets in games because it just tells me that the developer is lazy and doesn’t want to create something unique.

Combat

While traveling across the Heleus Cluster, I encountered all sorts of enemies that I had to kill. Mass Effect: Andromeda really shines with its combat. My Ryder was a hybrid of combat and tech skills. My Shepard was a biotic in all three games, so I wanted to try something new. My profile was the Engineer that had a little EMP drone that would detonate when enemies got close. This was effective for me because my Ryder was focused on long-range attacks. If an enemy got too close, they would be stunned so that I could kill them easier. I used Overload, Incinerate, Assault Turret, and the Remnant VI as my major skills. I also maxed out my Assault Rifle, Pistol, and Shotgun skills. This combination was pretty effective in taking out enemies with armor and shields.

The ability to jump and horizontally evade enemies was a great addition to the game. Mass Effect 1 – 3 were grounded, so it was a breath of fresh air to be able to move around the world in a new way. The combat kept me coming back because it was so smooth and addictive. Each enemy encounter was different and required me to use different skills and weapons to take out enemies with my squad. However, enemies that appeared in the distance seemed to be moving at a frame-rate of 10 frames per second. It was really jarring to see them moving so awkwardly, and trying to shoot them at a long distance proved difficult (not using snipers).

Thoughts on the New Squad

Speaking of the squad, at first I did not like the new characters. The previous trilogy had an amazing cast, so my expectations were high with the new cast.

Cora: A very powerful asari commando who sort of worshiped the asari. At first it was a little weird because she’s a human, but as the game went on I understood her respect for the asari and their culture. I generally liked her, but it took some time. Her loyalty mission was also really great.

Liam: I didn’t like Liam at all. For a serious mission to settle in the Andromeda Galaxy, he didn’t seem to care and his humor fell flat. I never used him in combat. His loyalty mission was okay, but it basically summed up why I didn’t like his character.

Vetra: I liked Vetra and the interactions she had with her sister. It was cool to have a female turian in the squad because it was something new. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see how turian females were treated in their society, but that’s just me nitpicking.

PeeBee: At first I hated PeeBee, but I warmed up to her. I played as a female Ryder and decided to romance PeeBee, and it was a really cute relationship. PeeBee has a very distant attitude throughout the game, but when you learn more about her and develop a romantic relationship, she gets nervous and is very teenage-like when it comes to romance. I thought it was cute and I was glad I romanced her. For some reason I always romance the asari.

Drack: I loved Drack. There’s something about krogans that make them great characters. He was the funniest character in the game, and had great dialogue with other squad members. I used Drack a lot in combat because he’s a Krogan tank who packs a punch.

Jaal: Jaal is a member of the new Angaran race. Jaal was a pretty interesting character because there was so much to learn about the Angara. They are a race with a long history of fighting the Kett, which has led to infighting in their own people. Jaal wasn’t the best in combat, but I did use him the most because the Angarans had the most experience living in the Heleus Cluster. He reminded me of Javik.

The one thing that I hated about my squad was that I couldn’t customize them at all. I was able to customize almost every squad member in Dragon Age: Inquistion, so I don’t know why Bioware took that out. I couldn’t even tell my squad what powers to use in combat, which was really disappointing because it took away the RPG elements of the game. I want to be able to customize and control my squad so that we are all optimized to take on any challenge.

Quest Issues

One issue that I had with Mass Effect: Andromeda was that there were too many useless quests to do. A lot of game developers think that more content makes the game better, but Andromeda suffers from having too much to do. For example, there are a ton of quests that are known as tasks. I did quite a bit of them because I like to be a “completionist” and learn any new information about the overall plot, but the tasks were completely useless. They were fetch quests that provided nothing of value. Scanning minerals and collecting stuff is not fun.

The only quests worth playing are the main plot, character missions, and planet specific missions. Skip the tasks completely because they are a waste of time. These tasks are essentially fetch quests, and what led me to compared Andromeda to Inquisition. Dragon Age: Inquisition suffered from having a lot of filler content, and so does Mass Effect: Andromeda. Just because there is a lot of content in the game, it doesn’t mean that it’s good content.

My Face Hurts…From the Animations

Many others have pointed this flaw out, but the animations are terrible. It’s hard to believe that a game released in 2017 looks like this. The facial animations are awful, and the lip-syncing doesn’t match what the characters are saying. For a game that relies on cut-scenes and character development, the performances are terrible. There are Xbox One launch titles that have better facial animations. The Frostbite engine is incredibly powerful, so it boggles my mind why Bioware was unable to make the characters look real.

Mass Effect: Andromeda Rating

I had a lot of high hopes for Mass Effect: Andromeda, but my expectations were not met. The animations, frame-rate drops, and general performance kept this game from being something special. I did enjoy the plot and characters once the game started moving forward. There is a good foundation to build upon, but I fear that fans will be turned off from future games because of their disappointment with Andromeda. It will be interesting to see how well the sales do because I fear the franchise might be canned if it doesn’t perform well.

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