Reviews// Mass Effect: Andromeda

Posted 3 Apr 2017 15:45 by
Then there are the characters themselves. With a few exceptions everyone seemed less interesting than those in the original trilogy. There was the grumpy Krogan, the logical Salarian and the caring Asari but it all feels like Saved By The Bell: The New Class.

I wasn't hoping for a step forward in the series. That's too much to ask. I'd built the first three games up in my head based on over one hundred hours of play. But I wasn't expecting a step back in so many areas that seemed to have been nailed by the previous titles.

Perseverance, however, pays off. The longer I played the less I was comparing it to Mass Effect. I'd come to terms with the fact that this was sub-par and soon enough my disappointment faded. What I was left with was a similar feeling to the one I have when I play a new IP that looks to have something worth building on.

I found myself getting home from work most days, loading it up and sitting for hours. I was thinking about getting back to Andromeda during the day, wondering where the story would go next and planning who I was going to talk to.

The further into it I got, the more I would avoid the main quest line and dip into the huge list of sidequests I'd acquired. I'd play for longer than I intended. I was openly seeking out certain people to chat with post-mission. I was enjoying myself.

That's not to say that the problems went away. There were still those moments of sighing at another issue that Andromeda suffers from, but it soon became apparent that everything the game does wrong can be overlooked and beneath its rough, unfinished edges is a game that can grip you without you even noticing.

It's hard to pin point how it grabbed me. The main story isn't as focused or interesting as I'm used to with Mass Effect games, the main protagonist nowhere near as engaging. But Andromeda still manages to maintain a layer of Mass Effect magic.

There's a simple formula that works for these games. You do a mission, return to a base, talk about the mission you've just done before talking about what mission you're doing next and repeat. Sounds simple, but the process works. It makes everything you do feel more important and changes decisions you may make along the way.

If a character that you're feeling more of a connection with takes one side of a moral choice argument, you side with them. If another mentioned a side quest they want you to go on, you're more likely to deviate to accommodate. Soon enough I found myself invested.

That's what Andromeda gets by on and it's something that can't be there until you've got a few hours of play behind you. It's something that builds and before you know it you won't care too much about the game's failings.

There are also enough nice touches to sweeten the frustrations a little. Revisiting planets you've already explored is worthy of your time, be it to polish off a few side quests or check in on how things have progressed since your last visit. Your actions no longer just change what people say to you but can have an effect on a world.

Retreading old ground isn't as dull as it has been in the past and offers an interesting way of conveying how important your actions are. It works and is something that should be taken forward if we ever get to return to space again.

But as much as I liked my time with Andromeda, those niggles and shortfalls stuck in my teeth. I couldn't fall in love with this as much as I have the others. There are too many things holding it back from being a great game. Fans will want to forget this and although there are still elements to like, I can see how it can slip into the forgettable.

It's a hard thing to consider when reviewing a game like this. Every complaint I've read about it is valid, every moan justified. Clipping some footage and showing it to you will never convince you that I actually enjoyed my time with it and playing the game out of context will certainly turn you away for life.

But I can't join those who are writing it off as a massive failure, because despite it not reaching the heights of the series it still manages to hold your attention. Mass Effect fans deserve more than what Andromeda has to offer, there's no doubting that. But if you let your guard down, there's enough to make this worthwhile.

Pros:
+ There's still magic in the Mass Effect formula
+ Some character stand out and will have you invested
+ Progression is rewarded

Cons:
- Weak combat
- A huge list of glitches

SPOnG Score: 7/10
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