Strangers in a murky paradise set foot in the Galaxy of Andromeda; brave men and women from species all over the Milky Way. This is a game where we are not the ones who are seen as heralds of intergalactic democracy nor are we a dominate faction in this game world; we are the aliens, the extra galactic threat that must be dealt with.
Mass Effect Andromeda is a game we have been personally waiting for ever since the conclusion of our story as Shepard from the original trilogy. We looked eagerly towards the horizon hoping to return to a game world full of life and story; now we can.
The Galaxy is dangerous and unknown. First things first: Andromeda hates you, loves you and fears you. You are an alien among a galaxy that suffers from its own afflictions and it’s own ‘reaper-esque’ threat. You step into a Galaxy that you have only seen through long range scans and best guesses; only to find that everything has not gone as planned, the fecal matter has indeed hit an industrial fan. We start our journey in typical fashion of, “What can go wrong, will go wrong.” There is no reset, there is no going back home. This was a trip that was to be an establishing point for a future lane between the two galaxies.
Now as one of the two Ryder’s we must strike out to figure out the obstacles and circumstances that have turned all of our suspected ‘Golden Worlds’ into lands of ruin and to figure out what this ‘Scourge’ (AKA Dark Energy, Mass Effect 2 anyone?) has to do with it all. Now the path is less blue and red than with previous entries into the Mass Effect family name. Ryder is a person who is in a lawless land, a new wild west if you will, and it is up to them to figure out what is right and what is wrong in a galaxy of foreign make; one separated by only hours and 2.537 million light-years of distance. The game does a superbly, phenomenal job at casting you as a stranger among individuals who have their own agenda’s and culture. One that radiates a vastly different structure than what we are used to, according to Milky Ways standards.
Using only what resources you have at disposal from the Citadel-like Nexus station and from the established colonies that you help plant firmly onto Terra firma, Ryder must fight to the heart of the issue and put an end to what ever the Kett might be plotting with the Remnant technology. The game does such a phenomenal job at the story telling that we find it so hard to not find ourselves watering at the mouth for this title and hope that its future DLC expand upon a lot of the new lore that has been set in place by the talented group of writers at Bioware. This is not a story about Shepard and that is what I feel makes Mass Effect Andromeda more enjoyable; irregardless of the bickering about the ending to Mass Effect 3. This is a story about finding a place to call home, no matter how rough that home may be.
The in universe Andromeda Initiative is the games Alliance, Turian Hierarchy and the Council fleet. It is a collection of species that are setting out for one common goal and for the hopes of a new start at life. It is the dream of one person that started this massive journey, this one small step for man and one giant leap for all Milky Way kind. It is a wonder of ours what the game might have turned out to be like, if the initiative had gone as planned.
The gameplay is as solid as its characters. We always fret over new titles as we have to sit and hope that old and yet familiar mechanics still feel and act they way they do in this new shiny title. Well I can tell you that most of what we loved from all three former titles does worm its way into the new title, as well as a few new tricks that make or break the experience; just depends on the person. We absolute applaud the combat and it is the one system overhaul that I think many Mass Effect fans will appreciate and enjoy over and over again. The shooting mechanics feel solid and weighty, the powers are better than ever with arcing abilities and a new prime and detonate mechanic that allows for destructive combinations; all scream quality.
Vertical spaces also have a role to play in the larger scope of the game world in the form of a jet-pack that allows our Ryder to navigate obstacles and to hold superiority in any given combat situation. It can make or break a well thought out plan of attack or it could leave you as a lump of charred flesh. Take it as you will, the jet-pack is here to stay and we want more of it. Another great aspect is the fact that you are no longer locked into picking a class to play from. You can play them all or you can play a hodgepodge of the all. What’s even better SAM (Your AI partner in crime and fun) is able to store several profiles for you to change to on the fly, each with a unique load-out of abilities and weapons; much love.
Speaking of new mechanics, crafting makes a massive leap forward and is a primary focus of bettering your gear and that of your sexy new Mako successor, the Nomad (We will visit you in a bit my six wheeled friend). These crafted weapons, armor and components are key to making sure that you have a leg up on the Kett during your time spent in the Heleus Cluster. Oh and there is also the new ship, The Tempest. She’s sleek, she’s fast and she doesn’t have an annoying elevator that has to load in-between cells; Thank you, so much. While she is no Normandy-Class, she has one of the fastest class engines and best stealth technology that you can find in both the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies.
Sure you could purchase an upgraded weapon from a vendor for a hefty sum of hard earned currency, but the crafting component opens up choices for weapons that are only available through the system; if you want that uber cannon (not a real weapon…. maybe) you got to craft it yourself. While this may come off as a tedious system, long time RPG enthusiasts will feel at home with the crafting mechanics; trust us, it is not as convoluted as it may seem.
The Nomad is the Andromeda Initiative vehicle of choice for exploration and mobility when scouting planets. Fast, nimble and safe, the Nomad is a worthy successor in our book to the much beloved and short lived Mako. It is as customize-able as your characters are, but within limits. It lacks offensive weapons, but makes up for that by being able to run over what ever lies in your path; it even has six wheel drive! Take that lousy four wheel drive.
When it boils down to filling this living ecosystem with characters that desperately need help, Mass Effect Andromeda brings us some really solid side quests and invoking main-line quests that really scratch a five year old itch. I’ve enjoyed the few side quests that I have done and while you may run into one or two similar quests, they are varied enough to provide enough fun. Bioware has definitely paid attention to other triple A titles like, ‘The Witcher 3′ and their own in house developed, ‘Dragon Age’ series. I feel that we have only just scratched the surface of what Mass Effect Andromeda truly has to offer prospective explores. The characters are what makes the game and frankly the cast is just enjoyable. While some characters fail to live up to expectations, others like Liam and Vetra are two of our absolute favorites and ones that we find ourselves dragging along for most missions; combat load-outs be damned
Now the game isn’t without some lack of polish in the gameplay/mechnics category and much of the grief stems from the… peculiar animations when it comes to the Asari and Human cast members of the game. From odd lip formations to dead eyes, many a fan has cried and unfortunately lashed out in the worst way imaginable. While the animations quirks do leave us staring at our character in interest and confusion, we still find that it is such a small footprint on the overall experience. Frankly we never ran into something that was just so detracting that it caused us to lose concept of what was going on; it never interfered.
Never doubt a strong and supporting soundtrack. Frequent visitors to our humble site should know by now that we absolutely love musical composition in all forms. It invokes deep emotions and can turn a lackluster moment into one that is unforgettably beautiful. The Mass Effect Andromeda composition is conducted by John Paesano and this title marks his first foray into the world of gaming composition. This individual has done composition for the massive film adaptation to the book series, ‘Maze Runner’ and will be taking the helm for the scoring of the upcoming, ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’.
While this is his first trek into waters unknown I have to say as a long time fan of the original trilogies scoring, the man is faithful to the source. There is carefully placed notes, melodies and queues taken from the old soundtracks and they are gentle woven into the new fabric that is the covering for the musical composition of Mass Effect Andromeda. There has always been something about a Mass Effect title composition that stirs up strong feelings and leaves our hairs standing on end. It is the careful attention to detail with how much a score can affect a gaming experience.
Does this game have what it takes to cement itself in a legendary library of titles? While the ongoing issues of odd animations will continue to permeate the internet until fixed, I feel like this is being made into a larger issue than it actually needs to be; the community definitely did not need the community to harass Allie Rose-Marie Leost, for her hand in the animation development. Short answer is… Yes. This game is as solid as the rest and while it has it’s ups and downs with the side quests, we definitely have enjoyed our tour with Mass Effect Andromeda and look forward to investigating every tiny nook and crevice that we can fit our Nomad into.
Mar 21, 2017
PlayStation 4 / Xbox One / PC (Microsoft Windows)
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