Mass Effect: Andromeda Review

I remember the first time I heard about the Mass Effect series. I was hanging out with a buddy of mine after church and we were headed to the local Walmart (apparently, my memory is vivid of all those years back) to get some food and such, so we could hang out and play games and such. I had just gotten a Xbox 360 not too long ago at that time and was just randomly talking about good games for the console I should try out. He asked me if I had heard of Mass Effect. I said no, that I hadn’t, and inquired what the game was and was all about. He mentioned everything he mentioned (ok, so I don’t remember EVERY detail…) and something caught me for sure: it was a Sci-fi RPG where your choices mattered and carried in the game. To that point I never really played a game like that before, but I loved space ever since I was a little boy and things like Star Wars. And your choices in the game making a change as you play, and will continue in other games?! Oh yeah, I loved that idea, and I soon afterwards bought the first Mass Effect. That was the beginning of a new gaming chapter in my life.

We all have those games that really move us and jump high on our favorite games of all times list, and Mass Effect was just that to me. Immediately I was sucked in. It had so many great elements! RPG elements, conversations that DID actually change the flow of the game, romantic options, moral choices that affected certain key moments, SPACE, other planet travel, and more! All the types of things I’d love to do in real life, things that have facinated me for years. I never looked back once I started the first Mass Effect. As time went on I got the 2nd and 3rd games but I didn’t just play the games. I noticed there were comics and books based on the universe, so I took a look at those. It really enthralled me and kept me even more sucked into the Mass Effect Universe. In so many ways you just can’t go wrong with Mass Effect; the games are critical masterpieces, the books/comics are engaging, fresh, and interesting. There’s really not much to hate on when it comes to Mass Effect! …until now, that is.

Mass Effect: Andromeda takes place in another time from the adventures of Shepard, and that’s a good idea, since your choices from all the original games don’t carry to this one. There’d be no way to shape the current adventures from the past so may as well ship everybody off to another galaxy some 600 years later. The general premise of this game is actually pretty cool to me: you’re on the way to explore and expand in a different galaxy as part of the Andromeda Initiative (in the year 2185). Basically 20,000 people on a one-way journey that takes some 600 years (better not be up like Fred Randall the entire time…please get what I’m talking about guys lol) to complete. You play as either a boy or a girl, one of two twins, Scott or Sara Ryder. Per the usual you can edit the characters and make them look as you want. But things don’t go as planned, I mean do they ever in a game like this? Basically, a hostile alien race shows up and causes trouble (with a villain leading them), forcing a change of plans, and you have to find a habitable house for the frozen folks on board, get a stable government set and things like that. The premise isn’t totally awful to be honest.

The game itself has some differences from the main Mass Effect games. Some of note: there are open world elements and the emphasis on exploring space. So, while there are threats and such there isn’t Armageddon happening in the Galaxy. Meaning you won’t have to feel too bad for taking your time and exploring, you don’t have Reapers coming at any moment, that type of thing. The Paragon/Renegade system has been reworked. You don’t have the LT or RT moments, the Blue or Red conversational choices. This time it’s more up to you to decide how you’d react in reality, and I have to say while different I don’t mind that; in reality you don’t know if what you say will net a good or bad result, you just have to say what you’d say. The game works the same way. Your choices in conversations are important you just have to rely even more on what you’d pick in reality, and I do enjoy that. So, that’s cool to me, and the idea behind the game I don’t mind for the most part. But that’s about where the good ends for this one.

What’s the problem? Here’s a few: the story (outside of premise alone) is boring. The side quests are boring. The facial animations are awful. There are glitches. It’s just plain boring! The game is not fun to play at all, certainly not compared to the original Trilogy, and it’s even harder to swallow after playing Zelda and Horizon Zero Dawn. Oh my goodness, I just cannot state enough how boring this game is. Sure, it has its moments, the romance works if you’re smart (or look up how to romance people lol) with what you say and do, and things of that nature. It’s just a dreadfully boring experience. The game, if it wasn’t being compared to the original Trilogy or the recent massive hits, wouldn’t be quite as bad, but even still it’s just not much fun at all.

I will say that, sure, there are tons of conversations to engage in, and if that’s your thing you’ll like that in this game I think. But running around the worlds, doing missions, etc is just plain not fun. And I hate that. I love Mass Effect and I want to love this game, but I just can’t. I mean I wouldn’t throw it in the trash or anything but I almost feel like taking a nap as I play, and I’m far from the only one saying that. Maybe better pacing would help? Maybe there will be great DLC that spices things up. After all, for as much fun as I had with Destiny right off the bat, it got boring quickly, but the DLC certainly elevated it tremendously in my eyes. The same thing can happen here and I almost bet that’s a realistic possibility. But as of now I just cannot recommend buying it for the full $59.99. If you’re able to get a discount or get it on sale, sure, but not now. It’s buggy, it’s ugly, the conversations are cringe worthy at times (in unacceptable ways in this day and age), and it’s just meh. The combat works fine, to me, I will say I don’t mind it where I’ve seen others complain about this.

The original Mass Effect games all had me hooked and gave me a lot of incentive and desire to make progress in the game. I wanted to see what happened, I was engaged very much in the games and what was going on. The side missions were fun too. This game just plain missed the mark. There are some moments that truly were fun, and I laughed here and there too, but unfortunately the laughing was more at the game than with the game. The crewmates aren’t nearly as interesting as the party members of the past. Garrus, Wrex, Grunt, and etc were much more enjoyable than the members you have to sit with in this game. There’s tons of nudity in the sex scenes this time around, I mean a lot, so I guess that’s a good point of the game isn’t? I’ll leave that up to you to determine on that part.

The game is just inconsistent; some moments are actually interesting, then the next several will have you checking the time, and that lack of decent balance definitely hurts this game. Scanning planets is a bore as much as it always was, so at least that stayed the same. The choices you make, in some ways, are a bit tough to see how they play out in your story, though other playthroughs may very well show a bit more depth in what changes between one set of choices and the next. There is some good here, and I’m sure we’ll see it get enhances via updates and DLC in the future. But for now I say: yes, it’s boring and not nearly as engaging or gripping as the original Trilogy. But there is SOME good in this game so it’s worth a pickup…. but not at full price. I wouldn’t recommend buying this at full price. I give it a 6/10 personally. Hopefully things get readjusted down the road and I enjoy it more, I sincerely hope that, but until the price drop comes I don’t recommend this one just yet.

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