Mass Effect is one of those games that I learned to love the hard way. The original shooter/rpg montage almost repulsed me and it took me a long time to actually start playing the original. Eventually the scope and deliverance of the story won me over and I can say with conviction that ME stands among my favorite games of all time. The scope and complexity of Mass Effects lore rivals that of the media it drew it’s inspiration from like those of Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Battlestart Galactica and who knows what else and ensured that the universe would have content to provide both story and actionwise for years to come. Naturally I looked forward to the next entry in this franchise, Andromeda. After two hours of gameplay which left me with the first mission finished and path opened, here are my issues and awes.
I was not impressed.
Storywise the journey of Pathfinder and his retinue of 100 000 explorer to the Andromeda galaxy begun much like the original Mass Effect: with a bang. Nostalgic feelings aside, the start of troubles though served a platform to kickstart the story in running, did leave a rushed and predictable taste in my mouth. The only reason I was surprised by the ending of the first mission and the sacrificial nature of it was that I expected more from the developers. This kind of story has been seen again and again and almost all of the aforementioned inspirational media sources have provided such gimmicks to prop the story along. As such it would have been refreshing to see something a little more original this time. We have the usual tropes around. Mysterious alien race that seems to be the main antagonist. Old ancient ruins left behind by some old race long since dead. Sounds familiar? Yeah.
Every bit of memeing, hate and downright critisism that the facial features of the characters have received are justified. Due to this incompetence or lazyness of the developers the overall impression of the game is that I am not playing a Mass Effect game. I am playing a Laugh Effect game. A Satire. A parody. This feels more like Baseballs instead of Star Wars. Character interactions, the best portion of any ME game in my book, is cringeworthy and soulless due to either empty expressions of character or just plain weirdness of it all. I wasn’t expecting Bill Nighy or Jim Carrey level facial muscle movement but I was hoping for at least a Teal’c level eyebrow raise. That would have been a cool homage.
Mouse smoothness is a constant woe of all pc players and recently it seemed that game developers have gotten the message and given an option to get rid of that lag. Andromeda developers apparently thought that screwing up the mouse is old school and went with normal movements instead. Turning around looks like I am turning a truck around. The slugginess is not as apparent in combat since I was too busy figuring out what does what and how to kill the bad guys but propably contributes to it. Humans have forgotten how to jump in their 600 year sleep and instead require a jet pack. Reliance on technology much? Remember scanning from Mass Effect 2 and how boring and repetitive it was? Well you are in luck. You can now scan everything with your omnitool. Maybe it’s necessary, maybe not but it does bring out a new annoyance to basically have to bring out the tool to scan something just in case it looks like there might be something there. Oh and PC master race can howl their sorrow since this is a pc port of a console game. Meaning someone has to make an UI mod like they did for Skyrim for the controls to feel any intuitive at all. Combat itself familiar though it still took me some time to get my bearings but a veteran of Mass Effect will quickly fall back into old routines making combat one of the better parts of the game.
Hopefully with updates and more fixes this game will improve but I’m not holding my breath. I’ll finish this game but the next ME game I will buy from sale instead of the full 60€ price.
Mass Effect devs: I expected more.