Mass Effect Andromeda Review

Craig takes on our Mass Effect Andromeda review, was it a galaxy too far for Bioware?

Let’s get the obvious out the way: Mass Effect Andromeda has issues. At times they’re funny, other times annoying, but almost all of them are down to the game being rushed out the door.

Characters will appear randomly during cutscenes, glitch into all kinds of place during gameplay, and awkwardly talk to each other with as much finesse as a Krogan threading a needle.  There’s a real lack of polish throughout and within a few hours my glitch count was into the dozens.

We’ve already tried to established what went wrong with its development, but what about what we’ve got left? Is Mass Effect Andromeda actually any good despite the obvious issues?

Once you’ve accepted that it isn’t as polished as you’d of liked it to be and the fact that it doesn’t get close to the quality of the previous games, Andromeda is still one that has positives. It’s a sizeable journey, with a plethora of side missions and worlds to explore.

The setup is simple, you’re a pathfinder, and charged with being one of the leaders of the Andromeda Initiative. A program that sees a number of space craft venture out from the Milky Way galaxy and towards Andromeda in order to find a new home; sidestepping any narrative from previous games and, as a result, makes it easy for new players to jump into their first Mass Effect.

Your monumental task comes with numerous issues though, and it’s not long before the player character, Ryder, is thrust into the limelight.

Unlike previous games, you’re not the answer to everyone’s problems and you’re constantly questioned about the decisions you make and how you talk to people. You’ll still get crucial decisions to make during the game, but none of them really feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders like the previous games so expertly achieved.

Dialogue is stiff in most cases and really falls behind the likes of recent games such as Horizon, which has taken character interaction and motion capture to new heights. Andromeda feels like a PS3 game in its characters faces. They appear motionless, their eyes are empty, and the reactions just aren’t believable; at times making it feel more like a comedy than anything resembling a serious situation.

The Nexus and your own ship The Tempest will act as your most frequently visited hubs where you’ll talk to your crew and engage with the different races that will be your primary source of information and acquiring of side quests – of which there are many. Once you start visiting planets and completing missions, you’ll start the process of moving inhabitants to them from The Nexus. From here, you’ll be inundated with people asking you to either ‘kill this’ or ‘collect that’ from the other side of the map. Side quests are, on the whole, quite limited and fail to do anything interesting.

After completing a few missions upon landing on a planet, you’ll open up the play area and be introduced to a mini open-world area on each planet. It’s a change from the more linear Mass Effect planets in the past and allows you to take advantage of the Nomad – a six-wheel vehicle that gives you the ability to traverse terrain.

The Nomad performs well and is fun to drive as it can easily go over large obstacles like their not even there, but there’s not really any reason to stop. Unlike recent open world games nothing catches your eye and other than driving directly to the nav point of your mission, you rarely feel like you need to explore, leaving large parts of the planets feeling barren and lifeless.

As you traverse Andromeda you won’t encounter many new species and it feels like a missed opportunity to really make Andromeda feel unique, instead it relies on the usual Asaris, Turians and Krogans that Mass Effect fans will be familiar with. One of Mass Effect’s strong points was its ability to present things that you hadn’t seen before, but within a couple of hours you’ll have met both the new alien species exclusive to Andromeda. They serve their purpose well, but don’t have the impact that you’d expect from a completely new galaxy.

“… it feels as though someone made the decision to release it with the intention of patching it later.”

Despite the lack of new races, the story picks up after a dour few hours at the beginning and once you’re into a rhythm of completing story missions, talking to people at your hubs, and exploring planets to complete side content, Andromeda’s able to get players into a habit, if at times it’s an uneventful one. As I previously mentioned, some of the side content can get a bit monotonous – there’s only so many fetch quests you can do at once – but the story missions do offer intrigue, and I wanted to see the game right through to its conclusion.

Andromeda’s combat is an interesting combination of progressive mobility changes mixed with ability options that negate the importance of what you want your character to be.

You still have the ability to use strong biotic and tech skills like Charge, Throw and Shockwave, but you can freely change these at will. Equipping different skills and profiles during a fight allows you to have a level of freedom in how you approach battles. The problem with this is that most combat encounters feel like they can be won with any number of different approaches and it doesn’t matter which one you have as long as you use the new ability to jump and shift into cover when you need to.

Your new mobility allows you to traverse not only the land you walk on, but also get into cover quickly. You won’t need to press a button to get into cover as you only need to walk up to a waist high wall to see Ryder duck behind it, but at times it will feel like you’re not completely covered as the system isn’t full-proof. It’s another part of Andromeda that with more testing and practice could have been made to work infinitely better and is another drawback of EA wanting the game out the door as soon as possible.

Mass Effect Andromeda’s multiplayer offering, while not extensive, is a nice enough detour from the main game to make it worth your while. For those who are familiar with the multiplayer in the last game, you’ll feel right at home here. The wave based co-op nature sees you team up with up to four players and take on numerous numbers of enemies. You’ll be tasked with straight up killing, eliminating specific targets or holding points on the map; before finally going to the extraction zone.

It’s nothing special, and you can unlock new characters and weapons by spending points you earn as you level up on loot boxes – or you can spend real life money to unlock them quicker – but matches can become hectic towards the later waves and offer a fun alternative for those looking to team up with a few friends.

If you come into Andromeda expecting a thrilling sequel to the last entry in the series then you’re going to be severely disappointed. Mass Effect Andromeda has many issues; it feels unfinished, there are graphical issues and errors throughout, and your relationships with most members of the cast won’t be memorable. Sure, some of the side stories are also monotonous, but despite all this, there is a decent game in here.

You’ll have to endure the issues, but once you’ve accepted Andromeda for what it is rather than what it isn’t, you’ll find an action RPG capable of holding your attention for at least 30 to 40 hours.

Mass Effect Andromeda Review Conclusion

Andromeda isn’t the return to form for Mass Effect that we were hoping for. Its issues are obvious from the opening few hours and if you can manage to accept them, Andromeda is capable of providing an interesting and combat heavy RPG.

3/5

We tested Mass Effect Andromeda after purchasing a retail copy of the game and it’s available PC, PS4 and Xbox One now.

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