Games

Review: Mass Effect: Andromeda: It’s Worth the Trip

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Like many Mass Effect fans, I have been starving for Mass Effect: Andromeda for a while now. I scoured the internet for every single morsel of information I could find on the game for the past five years. I watched early access videos. I made playlists (yes playlists) of songs that I thought would go well with the bits of story and information I knew about the game.

And then it came out.

For the past couple of weeks I have been playing Mass Effect: Andromeda, and it’s been fun. No it’s not perfect, but I have to say that the naysayers are pretty much full of it. The game did have a couple of glitches here and there but at this point in gaming history, it’s expected with open world games.

We need only look at the releases of Fallout 4, Witcher 3, and Dragon Age: Inquisition to know that this is true. Each of these titles were considered some of the best in the past couple of years and they had glitches.

And yes the faces are a bit … jarring to see but it’s not the worst thing in existence.

All these things I have mentioned are minor in comparison to what Mass Effect: Andromeda is doing really. Good.

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First, let’s start with the exploration. This is something that fans have been wanting since Mass Effect 1. We wanted to planet hop, to feel like we were discovering new things, dangerous new enemies, and solving a big mystery. And now this is exactly how the planetary exploration feature works.

It takes what ME1 started and builds on it A LOT. From the beginning, you’re plopped down on a planet and you realize that each planet has its own story and if you choose to stop and explore, you’ll find that the stories in many cases are pretty interesting.

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I found myself learning about the ancient Angara, the new race you encounter in Andromeda, and even learning small tidbits like their belief in reincarnation and how we could use it to solve an environmental crisis.

There where other quiet story bits that crept their way into my heart as I went further into the story. For instance, I was running past my email database when I came across an email with a poem that was sent my male Ryder, who is romancing Gil, the ship’s mechanic.

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You’ll find these little connections all over the place when you run past people who are talking amongst themselves, or squad mates who are giving each other s*** about their past.

This is where the game for me really comes alive, and sadly it seems pretty obvious from many major review outlets that they were too busy trying to rush through the game to appreciate such things. Or they were more than happy to jump on the bandwagon fueled by negativity.

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Speaking of Angara, the new race is definitely one of the more interesting aspects of the game. They are a race that shows their emotions outwardly which is quite a contrast for most people in the Mass Effect universe, for whom tend to be more stoic, or privately emotional.

This in-particular makes for some interesting and touching moments with Jaal, your Angaran squad mate.

Elsewhere in the story, unlike other Mass Effect games, you get a more personal character with a history. Gone is the decorated Shepard of the past, who we all know and love. Enter Ryder. Ryder is a twin. Ryder has a father. Ryder will give you tidbits about his or her past as you interact with others.

Ryder also has a more varied emotional spectrum than Shepard. This is something I felt was lacking in the original series until the third entry, when Shep started to show signs of wear and tear.

Part of your tale of discovery comes from learning more about your father, and your family as a whole. And this happens by going out into the universe and “triggering” memories. (Trust me, it makes more sense when you play!)

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Combat is the most refined it’s been in the series. I admit, it took some time to get used to it because Mass Effect 3 had a more snap and lock feel to its combat. Andromeda is far more frenetic and you have to be on your feet or you’ll be like me and face the “game over” screen many times.

While it is frenetic, I did eventually get better at it. For me, I’m not super reactionary so I always take Draak, the Krogan, with me because he’s a brute and kills the enemies that get too close to me. There is also still a lot of strategy involved in it as I found myself going for a more supportive role with Engineer.

While the game does a great job at allowing you to combine whichever abilities you want, I found it easier for me to just stick with the traditional Engineer. To each their own.

There’s been woes about the story being underwhelming in comparison to the previous games. I have to agree but only to a certain extent. The previous game had three games to tell its tale. The second and third games became more story-centric and less exploration centric. And lastly, I think that those who do pick up an exploration game have to realize that the more traditional point A to point B storytelling style is thrown out the window as you take on this type of game.

So if you happen to go from point A to B you’re most definitely going to miss out on big parts of the story and you’ll feel like it’s lacking.

In the end, yes Mass Effect: Andromeda has its parts that could shine a little more but I think the game itself was packaged pretty darn shiny to begin with. And for those who think that this isn’t enough, I would like to direct them to Bioware’s twitter where they mentioned that they are going to work on fixing many of the criticisms.

If that isn’t enough to prove that Mass Effect: Andromeda is worth it than I don’t know what is.