So, just about 8 days after release, I finished the game. Origin is saying 107 hours played. Since, I’m on the other side now, and my fear going in was that I may regret spending 90$ CAD on a pre-0rder and my greatest fear that the game would just turn into Dragon Age: Inquisition in space. Let me express it in explicit terms, I most certainly do not fucking regret anything. This is a worthy successor to the Mass Effect Trilogy, that should be commended because of the sorry state of the original 3 colored “lots of questions for everyone” BUY MORE DLC endings left the franchise with. Andromeda even manages to incorporate most of the Mass Effect Trilogy with the Arks departing before the Reapers and Star Brat destroy the milky way galaxy.
I’ll reiterate some of my first impressions, along with some newer points:
- The Facial Animations, this is the very definition of overblown and internet hyperbole. It’s like a decently painted portrait hanging slightly askew, for some people this is maddening, some people don’t even notice, some people don’t give a shit, some people don’t give a shit but have to tell you its a problem and shout be fixed before you hung it, and other as breaking (turian councilor reaper airquotes here) “immersion” that effect are so great one can only express their disgust by posting memes and exclaiming “dey bork muh ammershun” in the same vein as the south park’s “they took our jobs.” It’s definitely an issue, don’t get me wrong as you can fix a portrait hanging slightly askew with little effort, as Bioware Montreal should fix this issue and with quality control should have caught this issue some time during this games 5 year development cycle.
- The Story and Characters, this a more flexible and credible criticism/critique because taste and preference are completely subjective. So, if you hate scifi, you aren’t gonna like the story anyways. If you hate pronounced character flaws, you’ll hate the characters. If you hate some cheesy or odd ball humorous delivery of dialogue, you’ll probably hate the characters and story. I actually liked the story, it delivered on a number of fronts, it was compelling and did a fine job integrating the Planetary Viability and your choices into a coherent story with likable, and interesting, characters that ended in a satisfying way. To me a bad story is one that relies heavily on contrivances and handwaving explanations or just a lack of imagination, Andromeda has relatively few contrivances and even less handwaving explanations/story elements. So to me the story was not bad at all, it was actually a very decent story with some very compelling moments. The Characters were a little rougher to get to know and like, as what can one game do to compare to the original trilogy’s memorable and loved core characters. As I progressed through the game I enjoyed all the characters to some extent, I thought Peebee and Liam were pretty bland and even unlikable at first but progressing through their loyalty missions, another great aspect of the game, I actually started to like them. The non human crew were easily the most interesting and likable characters, especially Vetra and Drack. Jaal was also pretty good. From the human crew, I thought Gil was the most fleshed out character. I found Cora’s hero-worship of the Asari a little offputting but it made sense for her character. I kinda hated Liam at first, as I didn’t think some one could be that stupidly near-sighted and implusive but over the course of his loyalty mission, which was extremely good, I grew to like him.
- The Voice Acting. I thought this was another well done aspect for the most part. Compared to the original trilogy, it definitely holds up. Clancy Brown is great, Kumail Nanjiani is pretty good, and it’s hard not to like Natalie Dormer as Lexi. Fryda Wolff and Tom Taylorson had difficult act to follow from the excellent voice work done by Jennifer Hale and Mark Meer, but definitely hold their own in comparison.
- The game environments, skylines, and the galaxy look great.
- The Custom Character Creator, this one is definitely a disappointment, it feels like misstep, or more a backstep than a side step, when compared to Dragon Age: Inquistion’s Custom Character Creator. It felt very limited, with only a few choices that looked decent.
- The Combat, easily the best of the franchise. This game took Mass Effect out of the cover based 3rd person shooter, and turned it into a satisfying experience where you aren’t limited by a class system that imposes talent choices and weapon preferences. And you can be extremely effective with a more mobile frenetic playstyle with very fun evade and jump/leap/hover abilities. For Example, Melee combat is around 90% viable, you’ll have use a gun or some type of ranged ability for some enemies but you can cut through enemies in an extremely fulfilling way. The limit of 3 equipped abilities was definitely a questionable call but it plays out very well in the profile system. In my play-through I mostly stuck to a variant of the Vanguard set up, using Charge, Annihilation, and Lance with my weapons of choice being Shotguns and an Assault Rifle for mid to long-range. You remember the Volus in the ME2 saying he was a great biotic wind? Well My Fem-Ryder was a fucking Biotic hurricane.
- A well done conversation/dialogue system that is an improvement over the Super Boy-scout or Space Jerk paragon/renegade system of the previous games. I liked the different tonal responses you get for conversations as it adds the replayability. along with the choices and interrupts.
- Exploration and Settlement Building. This was another well done aspect of the game, you get a decent sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in setting up a colony and making it viable. This aspect of the game was incorporated into the story and done extremely well. You really get to explore massive levels that doesn’t feel empty like the majority of the DA:Inquisition levels did with its very shitty mmo type quests.
- The Inventory system. A bad design choice, no one was clamoring for an inventory limit, and a small one at that even with the AVP perks that increase it.
- The Music and Sound. This was something that was a little bit of a let down, as the ME trilogy had some great music/soundtrack. The iconic Vigil theme from Mass Effect, the End Run and Suicide Mission tracks from ME2, the gripping An End Once and For all of ME3 and Andromeda while decent has none the memorable themes/music.
- Crafting and Mod system. This was something satisfying to do, it was nice to be able to craft equipment and weapons and being able to impart some cool additional effects to abilities or add a very nice damage buff.
- The Multiplayer. I’m glad it’s not directly tied to the story or affects it outcome anymore, I heard it’s even pretty fun. I wouldn’t know because I play Mass Effect games for the single player story and could care less about a multiplayer aspect being added into a single player RPG.
- A singular ending with different variants based on your choices. I prefer an ending like these/this because they can be more in-depth and impactful. They also tend to be more flexible in terms of sequels and off stories.
For the tldr’ers, this a good game with some flaws, I liked and enjoyed nearly every aspect of the game. It’s a worthy successor to the original Mass Effect Trilogy, and a good Mass Effect game that delivers on every element that Mass Effect games are played and loved for, namely interesting and likable ship/squadmates, a decent story, and interesting choices to make with consequences. Also, the ending sequence was great. The game has some flaws for sure, the animations being the biggest issue. The questionable inventory limit and the limited custom character creation being other glaring flaws.
If you are numbers type of person. I’d give it an 8/10, a good game with some flaws, with more merits than flaws.
This is game I think that will be appreciated more later, when the meme vitriol and die-hard bioware haters lose interest and jump onto the next fashionable thing to hate on comes along.