A reviewer should sometimes take on a tasks that no one asked them to take. A test to see how they can balance both their own bias and preconceptions of a thing to criticize and/or compliment.
As a fan of Bioware and someone who was looking forward to the Mass Effect series continuing, I was as shocked as everyone was seeing the gameplay and reviews of Mass Effect: Andromeda. But now that the dust has settled, can there still be a good game in here? Is it worth playing, or is it just another piece of EA trash, easily tossed away and forgotten?
Well have no fear, the Cheap-Ass Gaming Garbage Man is here, saving you from answering those really hard questions.
Our story begins with space arks, containing sentient races of the Milky Way, arriving at their new home in the Andromeda galaxy. The plot revolves around you, the AI voice in your head named SAM, and a bad man named the Archon. Some say he is ascended, but I think he just watches too much porn. He wants control of Meridian, a mysterious force in the Andromeda galaxy.
The bad Archon man also transforms his former race into an army, hellbent on taking complete control of this galaxy and its new inhabitant. Can you, SAM, and a wacky cast of characters save this uncharted space from the Reapers 2.0? Probably, probably.
The main character of Ryder is why this game is reviled as it is. His “humor” consists of weird observations, he says all the wrong things at the wrong moments, gives pathetically laughable speeches, and the crew never really seems to respect him. The most God-awful, corny lines to have come out of a voice actors mouth were written with Ryder in mind.
And background of Ryder is as equally awkward. With Shepherd in the original Mass Effect, you got to pick their personal history and then base Shephard’s responses into that.
Story-wise, you could feel that it was attempting to become epic, a game beyond even that of the original Mass Effect. I admire that. But what I don’t admire is sloppiness and bad timing. Every time there was a near perfect scene, akin to something that this game was hoping to achieve, some random character, or even worse, the main character, say some shit line that ruins the whole fucking thing.
This thing was picked from nearly every other successful sci-fi gaming franchise, there is traces of Halo, Star Wars, Star Trek, (Borg especially), and probably a shit load of others, like ALF for the humor or something. Actually, I’m sorry, this game could have used a few half-dead heroin junkies on its writing staff, might brought some life into this game.
The most glaring and prominent problem though is the facial and character animations of cutscenes. If EA cared half as much about the facial animations of their games as they did about microtransactions, the uncanny valley would have been crossed by now. It’s bad. Bad enough to provide some of the most unintentionally hilarious moments of any recent video game.
The more I played of this game, the more I found myself wanting to return. I wanted to get back out there in the Nomad vehicle, traversing the terrain and getting to destinations, no matter how far away they were. The driving is fast-paced and fun. From floating long-distances on low-gravity asteroids, to climbing up a desert mountain side in a futile attempt to reach a checkpoint, it was never boring or a chore to drive the vast expanses of terrain in the Andromeda galaxy.
The gunplay is comparable to that of Destiny, very tight and responsive. Every hit given or delivered is felt and the variations between gun types and their own individual levels, make any rifle, shotgun, pistol, or sword a different experience in play, changing both tactics and aggressiveness in battle.
By hour 20, I was hooked till the end. I had craved some good shooter action and this game satisfied that. It is hard at times, hard enough to make you rethink a strategy or entrance point, just anything different from whatever it is that keeps killing you. I died a lot, and that’s okay. Welcome, even.
The RPG mechanics are basically that of armor, gun, and skill tree implementation. You can change roles on the fly, giving differing abilities and bonuses to Ryder. You can both research and create new recipes on the Tempest, your surprisingly well-designed and dense starship.
The backgrounds and landscapes are beautiful, some of the best I’ve seen in a video game. One part looked like the backdrop, something similar to the original Borderlands backdrops, but the it turned out that I could DRIVE to and through it. I was blown away. Level design can be bit cluttered, but there is always something to look at.
As I continue to list the problems and positives of this game, you can see it become divided between the two categories of really bad and really good. There is some in between, like sound design is alright and the music is okay. But it really boils down to combat and driving versus story and characters.
It deserves all of its shame. A hoity-toity publisher like EA thought they could squeak this on by, that the fans would somehow overlook these glaring mistakes. If the game wasn’t finished, they should have shelved the motherfucker for another year. Sure, fans might send death threats, but as Miyamoto said once, “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”
It has been over a year and a half since the release of this game, and EA has done nothing to address the problems and complaints. As a company that touts “live service” as a business model, this does not fill me with any confidence that they’ll continually fix a game, even one as revered and respected as the Mass Effect franchise, and will completely ignore it once it becomes non-viable.
Instead of being a multi-billion dollar corporation and fixing its mistakes, gaining both trust and increased market share from their consumers, EA acted like a kid who ran home crying because the other kids made fun of their drawings.
So much is so perfect, while so much is so, so bad. It makes it hard to review this game. I still want to hate it, even after 30 hours of enjoyable gameplay. I want to curse its name and spit on its face for what it did to the franchise. But, in more than one way, it evolved the series forward, taking some aspects of the first Mass Effect and perfecting them.
If they had a more talented and larger group of writers, editors, voice directors, maybe add another year to polish the dialogue and cutscenes, this game would have scored with everyone.
After the backlash rescinded, the reaction videos forgot, can Mass Effect: Andromeda still be played and enjoyed? I think so. You have all been fairly warned about the faults of this game, and when you go into it with that knowledge, it really softens the blow. It can actually be kind of fun, like watching a funny B-movie. It’s bad, but the actors and story pretend like it isn’t bad. That adds up to hilarious moments, easily good for a laugh or five.
If played to the right tune and mindframe, this game elevates itself from a 2 to a 3 out of 5. A few tweaks would have made this a super-duper 4 out of 5, playing to both my love of the franchise and deep RPG/shooting mechanics. But the lines, the God-damn cheesy line of dialogue. And the distracting character models that are still goofed all the fuck out keeps this it to a 3.
I had fun shooting my laser rifle, watching alien bad dudes fly far into the cloudy skies. I felt the thrill of speed as I shot my web and sailed over the New York city landscape, making me truly feel like Spiderman. I cursed aloud as my Nomad couldn’t climb over the very last peak of a mountain and slowly fell back down, tires spinning. I lost myself in the humor of Ryder hitting a steel floor face-first from two stories up and then getting up like nothing ever happened.
It was a memorable game with quite a few faults, quite a few really fun parts, and your usual Sci-fi RPG universe in-between. I’d recommend Mass Effect: Andromeda for fans of Mass Effect, upgradable combat shooters, and open-world driving.
Do not get it if you want a well-written story. If you do like cheesy, MST3K-style movies however, then this is for your laughing pleasure as well.
I can accept mistakes. I can accept that games are becoming increasingly hard and more expensive to make. I can even accept lies during development, so long as everything is fixed and I am given an apology and a promise that it won’t happen again. But nothing of that sort was done here.
Instead of salvaging it, instead of re-releasing it with improved character models and facial animations, cleaning up the dialogue, tweaks to the main characters overall personality, and this game becoming the comeback story of 2017, EA said they would fix the problem, then quietly took Mass Effect: Andromeda behind a woodshed and strangled it to death.
The problems are still present for Mass Effect: Andromeda; A game that tried to do too much and ended up failing with nothing to show, even with all the good it tried for the series.
Check out the entire game, starting with episode 1 of the Garbageddon: