Mass Effect Andromeda Review

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Welcome to my review for Mass Effect Andromeda! Andromeda is the latest entry in the Mass Effect series. In this review I will be giving my thoughts on the game talking about what the game plays like, what to expect from this game and who this game will and won’t appeal to. First off, I am  going to talk about the graphics

Graphics: I’ll be talking about what I found good about the graphics in Mass Effect Andromeda. First off, the area designs in the game are incredible. In particular, the vault areas you go through are really well done in art design. They look incredibly futurisitic high tech and mysterious as you would expect a futuristic setting type of game for a area where you battle enemies. The effects for your attacks are also generally well done and look very clear.  Some of the planets you travel across are pretty cool in terms of their atmosphere as well.

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For example, the planet in the opening of the game has lightning thundering down all over the place along with floating rocks flying through the air of the area and weird mysterious alien plants growing all over the place. That being said, the area designs I believe are where 95% of the graphics budget went I believe. I say that because the animations for the characters are absolutely terrible. You’ve probably already seen people mocking and making fun of the character animations in the game. The mockery is honestly well deserved. All of the character animations are as bad as you’ve heard.

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For me the character animations in the graphics of the game were so terrible they affected my enjoyability of the story. During a sad scene in the story my main character had this stoic  expression on his face when he should have been sad and it made it hard for me to take the scene  serious because of that and broke my immersion I had into the game. Despite that, the area designs are quite good.

For example, areas like the Remannt Vault areas look incredible while other areas are kind of boring and generic. Some planets in the game would look like a boring generic desert type of area that lacked much of the originality and creativity seen in other planets and environmental areas of the game. Overall, the graphics are mixed. The area designs can be mostly incredible and resemble what one should expect from a triple A game, but the facial animations are simply unacceptable for what is presumably a high budget triple A game. Next up is my thoughts on the gameplay.
Gameplay: Mass Effect Andromeda is primarily a third person shooter. You run around environments shooting at enemies and taking cover behind walls or various objects you find that can protect you from being shot at. The game has some open world elements in it as well. Throughout the game, you have different planets you can select to land on.

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These planets are fairly big and you can travel across them in two different ways. Either on foot or using a vehicle resembling the Mako from Mass Effect 1. Fortunately,  the vehicle of Andromeda called the Nomad has far better controls than the Mako from Mass Effect 1.

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The good news is I never had issues controlling it and controlled smoothly. The Nomad can boost, hover in the air for a short while to go across gaps and has two modes. A regular driving mode and then a all terrain mode for traveling up steep hills. Also, the game has quests as well like a lot of open world games. Like other modern games, you’ll get a quest and select to track it and a waypoint will appear on the map. You will then go to the waypoint to reach your destination and to progress in the game.

Most of the time, you’ll be exploring around in your Nomad and when you come across containers with items or enemies you’ll then exit the Nomad and do battle on foot. As mentioned, Mass Effect Andromeda is a third person cover based shooter. You’ll shoot at enemies with guns and reload when you run out of ammo. During combat, you can run up to a piece of cover like a wall or boxes or various other objects to take cover behind them and protect yourself. In combat, you have a shield that regenerates and then a health bar that lowers once you run out of shields and if you keep taking damage.

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Your shields regenerate if you go for a short while without being shot, but health only regenerates partially and has to be restored with health containers generally found in combat areas. Ammo is also obtained from ammo containers found in combat areas. One great new gameplay mechanic added in Mass Effect Andromeda is the ability to boost through the air or boost to the side on the ground to maneuver around the battlefield more quickly and to dodge attacks.

This feature adds a new way to play the Mass Effect series and improves upon the gameplay by giving the player the ability to dash around in combat at quick speeds. Unfortunately, a really terrible decision by Bioware and quite possibly the worst gameplay decision  made by Bioware in the entire game is you can no longer control your squadmates. In Mass Effect 2 and 3 you could tell your squad mates what powers to use and what enemies to use it on. However, in Andromeda you can now only tell them who to target or where to move to, but you can no longer pause combat and issue direct commands anymore.

I tried to put myself into the developer’s perspective and tried to see why they would make this kind of gameplay change to the game and I simply couldn’t come up with one good reason as to how anyone thought this was remotely a good idea. This weakens the gameplay by removing the ability to further tactically plan and carry out strategies during combat. This was by far one of the worst things about Mass Effect Andromeda’s gameplay. It was a completely bad decision by Bioware to do this. Back to some other good things though, like the exploration.

Exploration in Mass Effect 2 is pretty interesting. You land on planets with different environmental hazards like a ice planet where you have to stay warm by going to heat lamps scattered throughout the area and keeping yourself warm there in between traveling through the freezing cold of the planet. This makes exploring a little bit more interesting. Also cool as mentioned is the boosting and hovering ability which adds some platforming into the game as you go across platforms which is good as well. In terms of character customization, Mass Effect Andromeda takes a few steps forward and a few steps back.

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Upon making a character, you’ll see that character classes are now gone. You no longer choose a class. Rather, you have several different skill trees you can go back and forth between and invest skill points into in order to learn new skills. This is good and believe it or not in a way you still really have to plan out a build. Mainly because by the end of the game, you will be around level 25 or so. So you’ll have to choose carefully where you want to invest your skill points into since you’re only getting likely around 20 to 25 levels of skill points and there’s tons and tons of skills you can learn in the game. On the negative side though, the  equipment customization is severely lacking though.

Sadly, like Mass Effect 2 and 3 Bioware has dumbed down the RPG mechanics of Mass Effect Andromeda. You can’t customize your squad mate’s equipment and only the main character’s equipment. Less  options is never a good thing when it comes to gameplay. Fortunately, you can craft weapons using resources gathered from mining while exploring on planets and obtain mods to attach to weapons to give weapons various effects like more headshot damage, more bullets per clip and so on. Some other bad aspects of Andromeda’s  gameplay is the enemy variety.

Early on, the game seems like it has good enemy variety. You begin fighting different enemies like wolves that try to melee attack you, alien soldiers whom shoot at you and robots that call for reinforcements and use shields along with other tactics to take you down. Unfortunately, later on you realize at about 5 hours in you’ve seen literally 90% of all enemies in the game outside of boss fights.

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The first boss you face in the story the Cardinal becomes a regular enemy and you have to fight this enemy type about 10 times over and over again throughout the game. Needless to say, it becomes incredibly repetitive and it’s not fun fighting the same exact enemy repeatedly especially when the enemy is annoying to fight and takes a long time to take down. As you travel through  planets helping people there and defeating enemies you’ll get Andromeda viability points.

Once you acquire enough andromeda viability points your nexus levels up. Once it does, you can go back to the Tempest your ship which serves as a hub area where you can speak with your squadmates or use your andromeda viability points to wake up people from cyrogenic sleep like scientists and get upgrades like being able to obtain resources automatically or to increase exp you get from enemy encounters etc.

I found many of those upgrades to be of little help though and most of them barely did anything like maybe I got some minerals I could use for crafting randomly, but it would be like barely any and I could easily get far more by just going out and exploring. In terms of side  side missions, they’re mixed. I admittedly didn’t do too many of them since I save sidequests for a 2nd playthrough most of the time.

However, some side missions were very good in that they had multiple outcomes along with a story that made you care about  them and they made you think instead of being generic go kill 5 monsters type of quests that plague some open world games nowadays. For example, one sidequest someone gets framed for murder and you have to try and see if they’re innocent and you go and speak with witnesses, watch camera surviellancefootage and look at evidence to see if they’re innocent or not. That was a interesting sidequest since the story makes you invested in it. Another though, was a generic go scan 5 dead corpses on a planet and then go back to the person who gave you the quest for a reward type of sidequest.

However, there’s some cool sidequests where you fight bosses. Loyalty missions fortunately return from Mass Effect 2 and they are pretty good. You learn a lot more about the characters from them, unlock a new skill for the character which is great and many of them have multiple quests to them and multiple different areas and story scenes you see during them. This was one of the best parts of Mass Effect 2 and I am glad they brought it back after removing it in Mass Effect 3. With all that being said, let’s talk about the game’s length.

For me to finish the game mostly focusing on the main story and doing a few, but not many side missions the game took around 24 hours. If you do the sidequests though, I could see the game easily being at least 50 hours though as there’s a fair amount of optional things to do. Meanwhile, in terms of difficulty the game is fairly difficult. Early on, the game felt challenging since I didn’t have many powers, but as I leveled and got more abilities leveled up the challenge went down a lot. Despite that, the game remained fairly challenging throughout the entire time and I died a fair amount of times in the game on the normal difficulty.

Overall, the gameplay of Andromeda has some really good and bad aspects. There’s some ways the gameplay really exceeds, but other ways the gameplay fails big time. Okay so time to talk about the writing. and story of the game.

Story: Mass Effect Andromeda’s story has you playing the role of the son or daughter of the pathfinder. A pathfinder being someone who is incredibly well experienced in exploring planets,  saving people’s lives and leading squads of people through dangerous areas safely. Shortly after the prologue, things go horribly wrong and you end up becoming a pathfinder after a series of events.  From that point on, you go on a journey to try and save the citizens of the Nexus a giant flying ship from starving to death and in the process run across an alien species called the Kett whom want to destroy the world.

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First off, I would like to say I think the main characters of Mass Effect Andromeda are likable. You have characters whom interact with the main character often and you end up finding out a lot about them throughout the game. You can figure out about their backstory and end up learning about what their future goals are especially through the loyalty missions. In this regard, you want to help the characters succeed more because you can relate to their goal of wanting to make the citizens aboard the Nexus survive. Unfortunately, beyond the somewhat interesting plot of wanting to keep the Nexus
and it’s citizens alive the rest of the plot is a generic good vs evil story.

The Kett are generic evil alien bad guys whom want to destroy the world because they simply want to. There’s no real morally grey aspects to the Kett or any motivations that the player can even remotely relate to for why they want to conquer the world. What is also lacking though, is the main antagonist.

The main antagonist who’s name is the Archon is basically the leader of the Kett. He wants to conquer the world because well he simply does. Yes that’s his entire motivation. There’s nothing more to his character than he’s evil and wants to destroy the world. Archon literally has no much of a backstory to him, no interesting or in-depth motivations for why he feels this way and no grey morality or ulterior motives
to why he wants to do this. As a character, he generally spouts lines of how the Kett alien species are superior to all else and how he must crush them all. This is something that has been done in games and movies and books a million times. It’s not original, it’s not impressive and the character of the Archon has no memorable lines that I can think of.

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So Mass Effect Andromeda has a half good story and half not so good. When focused on the main characters and not the good vs evil plot it’s quite good. The characters are cool, have their own stories to tell where you learn about their origins and can even end up romancing them if you wish like previous Mass Effect and Bioware games. When it focuses on the good vs evil and stopping the incredibly boring and generic evil alien species the kett then the game becomes less interesting. Last, is the choices. At times, you gotta make decisions in choice some of which are quite interesting.

For example, at one part of the game you’re at a Kett base and have to choose to destroy the base and prevent the Kett from torturing the prisoners there or save the prisoners, but leave the base intact allowing the Kett to possibly regroup. Depending on the choice certain people will get angry at you. However, it doesn’t have a major effect in the story. For example, a party member of mine named Drack got angry at me. Despite him getting angry though, he did not leave my party and nothing happened.

In previous Bioware games, like Mass Effect 3 a squad member of mine committed suicide after a choice I made in a evil alignment playthrough that I did. However, in Mass Effect Andromeda there was no severe real consquence for my decisions like that. That is a step back in player choice and the outcome of decisions in the game. Overall, like gameplay the story is very hit and miss in Andromeda.

Music: The soundtrack of Andromeda is this game’s weakest aspect by far. I can’t think of a single memorable song from the game. None of the songs did anything or were memorable in any way. Fortunately the voice acting in the game was pretty good. The actors seemed to understand their roles and the context of the situations in which they were voice acting.

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Overall: Mass Effect Andromeda is definitely not game of the year for me. I don’t even think it is close to game of the year. It’s a okay game and has some fun combat in it, but also some really strange and really bad design decisions in it like the removal of being able to give direct commands on what powers squad mates use. Furthermore, the story has decent writing for the main characters, but a really weak group of antagonists and fake moral decisions that don’t have actual real consequences. Given the tough competition Andromeda has this year, I cannot suggest Andromeda at full price or over other incredibly good games released this year like Nioh, Zelda or Horizon Zero Dawn. I personally would suggest to wait for it to drop down to 40 dollars or less before buying. It’s not an absolutely horrible game, but it definitely has a fair amount of flaws. Let me know what you thought about the review, any feedback is appreciated and let me know if you have played any of the Mass Effect series or plan to eventually. Either way, thank you ladies and gentlemen for reading my review and I’m out of here.

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