Mass Effect: Andromeda sees the series in its fourth instalment. I have completed 1, completed 2, but never even played 3. Even though it is meant to be one of the better games from the series, it was timed poorly for me and I ended up playing other games instead. Since the release of the PS4 and Xbox One, I have felt less compelled to go back and play a last-gen game. So when I was given the chance to review No.4, I was excited for the opportunity.
Mass Effect brings its own style of game with the blending of Sci-Fi and the RPG genre carefully tied together. It works with perfection, to the point that this game (as well as previous Mass Effect games) has reached a far greater audience than most would have thought.
Before playing, I’d read a lot about it due to the 4-hour play you could get through EA Access. There’s no ignoring the fact that this game received a fair bit of hate. I am going to cause controversy with this review. Either way, I write this review someone is going to be annoyed – however, today, it’s going to be the haters who get the hump as I think this game is sheer class; flawed, indeed, but sheer class.
The story, although complex, is incredibly gripping. It starts off with you waking up from a 634-year sleep (that’s how long the journey took). Shortly after waking up, the Hyperion runs into a dark energy cloud which messes with the freezing of Ryder’s sister. Ryder and his crew, led by his dad, go off on an exploration mission which gets interrupted by sudden bursts of lightning. The crew become separated and, as they explore the planet they have landed on, they see some new high-grade alien technology and a new race. Suffice to say, this race aren’t too friendly and shoot on sight. A few dead crew members later, you run back into your dad who convinces you to go in for the final attack. Then, what can only be described as a dramatic twist… your dad dies and passes on the pathfinder status/ability to you (probably not the first choice).
Everything then unfolds with you having to partake in all the pathfinder tasks of uncovering new lands for people to make their home. Alongside your daily duties of the pathfinder, you meet a plethora of new crew members, unravel their stories, your father’s stories, your own stories as well as so much more. This game offers variation in abundance and although hard to follow at times, the story seems to unquestionably grip you.
Addressing the obvious and most noticeable faults: first of all you have the facial animations and, most annoyingly, the movement of the eyes. The graphics themselves look good and offer a high sense of realism, but the eye movement is completely off and incredibly freaky. As a character is standing and talking to you, their eyes may be moving at a rapid rate up and down like they’ve have been on a night out in Manchester and delved in to far too many drugs (DVDfever Dom adds: Don’t forget the Jagerbombs!)
Or they could be permanently staring at you like they’ve been out in Manch.. Oh yeh, we’ve been here. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. Hopefully Bioware will be able to patch this problem and all signs point to this happening. Irrelevant of whether they fix it or not, this is a clear fault. What I don’t need to accept is how much of a game-changer it is. Quickly, I adapted to not looking at the characters’ eyes or just laughing about how silly they looked. When you decide to look around the environment, you realise how fascinating the background is. Bioware have given all areas an excellent look and the more you look, the more of the finer details you will notice.
Secondly, you will quickly notice that the lip-syncing is a long way off. This isn’t the case with all of the characters, but is most of the time. Once again, I hope that this is something that they manage to fix in time, but for the moment we can’t ignore it is a problem. Laughing was my first response, then it just gave me flashbacks to watching dubbed anime. Overall, I found the speech a slightly more irritating problem compared to the eye movement, but it didn’t stop me from playing the game, nor from loving the game, nor from enjoying the voice animation. Mass Effect: Andromeda uses a great array of voices and they help immerse the player into the game. Along with the fantastic voice acting is the excellent music . I spent 20 minutes on the Nexus in my bedroom listening to this. For me, this is the side of the game which keeps me gripped. You see gaming is about the experience and as well as a fun and enjoyable game you need all your other senses stimulated.
The last significant issue with the game is the least important in my opinion. The story isn’t particularly original or original in any way. It revisits something that has already been done (a new race with new technology), but that’s not a problem. If the story is good, then it doesn’t matter if it is brand new or something revisited. I often think that sooner or later there won’t be any new stories to write and everything will share similarities with something else. Plus, it was so long ago that I actually played any other Mass Effect game – and I have played so many others since – that I have pretty much completely forgotten what happened in any previous Mass Effect games, so even though I was getting a sense deja vu, it didn’t annoy me in the slightest.
After rubbishing all the reasons why people have slated the game, it is time to explain why the game is so good. I have mentioned the sound, how the graphics are good and how the story is gripping, but there are many more fantastic features to Mass Effect: Andromeda. You have complete control over what you want to do; you really can shape your character to behave the way you want him to – you can flirt, argue, agree and even provoke during dialogue and this will all change the course of action. The game offers so many side missions and even side missions for side missions! Some people will find this frustrating, but I find it more lifelike. You can explore different galaxies as well as different ships. There really are a lot of things going on in this game. In addition, it offers a good variety of weaponry which all have their own perks: you can mod your weapons as well as your armour and this convinces the gamer to complete the side missions as well as explore as many different areas… as your wife allows you to.
I’ve heard people say that they only took 40 hours to complete this game, but I’ll be disappointed if I don’t clock up well over 100 hours (my wife will be fuming, however!) You can also unlock new skills and improve areas of your character. This gives you more control over how you shape him/her. As well as this, it allows you to unlock some pretty cool moves which destroy enemies throughout your journey. Some media have moaned about the lack of facial/body changes you can make to the character at the start of the game. I have one thing to say to said people: get a life! If you spend that amount of time creating a character, then there is a serious problem with you. Random pick – that’s the way forward.
There’s also an online mode which you can play right from the start of your adventure – although I would play a bit of the story first. The multiplayer is fun and a little different, but uses all the same mechanics as the solo game. There are so many reasons why this game will defy the haters and do well. We have waited a while for Mass Effect: Andromeda… and yes, it has its fair array of bugs and issues but forget about all of that and play the fantastic game which hides beneath its frailties.
Bioware – Thank you – true gamers will love Mass Effect: Andromeda.
Graphics: 8 – I’ve heard some people dislike the graphics but I feel they offer great detail
Sound: 8 – Apart from the lip syncing – you have an unreal soundtrack
Gameplay: 10 – Different modes, different mods, different moves: variety at its finest
Enjoyment: 10 – I will be playing this for months to come
Overall: 9 – It has its faults but nothing compared to its successes
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Developer: Bioware
- Players: single-player, multiplayer
- HDTV options: up to 1080p
- Sound: DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Director: Mac Walters
Producers: Fabrice Condominas, Johanna D’Amato, Mike Gamble and Fernando Melo
Writers: John Dombrow, Cathleen Rootsaert, Chris Schlerf, Joanna Berry, Sheryl Chee, Hall Hood, Lukas Kristjanson, Ann Lemay, Neil Pollner, Samantha Wallschlaeger, Jay Watamaniuk and Courtney Woods
Music: John Paesano
Alec Ryder: Clancy Brown
Scott Ryder: Tom Taylorson
Sara Ryder: Fryda Wolff
I have been a video game player since 1993 and a music fan since I can remember. I studied Film and Journalism at university and ended up becoming a Primary School teacher. Video games changed my life and sent me on the right track and have stayed with me ever since.