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Old 05-28-2017, 04:11 AM
Sorce Sorce is offline
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It's probably about that time.

Mass Effect: Andromeda
Unlike Arkham Knight, this is not more of the same. It's both less and more simultaneously though, which makes for an interesting experience. But let me get this out of the way first.

The (technically) second planet you encounter is way more of a pain in the ass than it should have ever been. Just... fuckin' hell. Back to the review.

You play as one of the Ryder Twins, whose father dragged them 600 years in the future and the next galaxy over from the Milky Way, Andromeda. Specifically, you end up in the Heleus Cluster aboard the Humanity Ark, the Hyperion. Right from the get-go though, you find out how accurate the 'cluster' part of Heleus Cluster is, because almost nothing goes right for the Ark you're on, and the landing party you're a part of to find a place to call home.

That said, I'm not entirely sure we got the game that was promised in those trailers. What we got was not bad, however. Ryder, as a Pathfinder, had to find a new home for the Humans (~20k) that came over on the Hyperion, as well as finding the other Arks of other species that attempted the jump at the same time. The game succeeded at that, no problem. Most of the game proper is Ryder finding planets, making them viable for supporting life, and plunking down colonies for people to live in. Also meeting the local aliens and attempting to make friends, because it's always better to be nice to the people you have to live next door to. The real issue that comes up is of course that bumps up against the other plot going in the game, where a certain alien race is trying to do something similar (but in an evil way). So then obviously everyone must kung fu fight. This is where the story drags a bit for me, because it felt like the people behind the game were trying to get a Main Big Plot going, but there wasn't enough there to make the main villain a real threat. Plus he looked like a Funko Pop Doll, so that was distracting as heck. This is also a franchise that prides itself on the protagonist being able to make choices that affect the world they inhabit. This is not an inherently bad thing, because it's something that we do in our daily lives, so why not in our fiction? Everyone likes the Choose Your Own Adventure books, right? The thing is that the choices that Ryder faces in Andromeda aren't really choices that they should be making, or are even qualified to make. I should be clear though, this is not all of their choices, and these choices are clearly setting up a larger world in the frame of "sequels please", but a couple seem a bit off.

The bright spot in this game is the single-player gameplay. Everything "feels" pretty good, from guns to powers. I had some issues regarding cover and medi-gel, but once I got past those I was golden. The... removal? dissolution? re-jiggering? of the game's character classes opened up the battlefield in interesting ways. Your active powers are down to 3 (from Shepard's ~8), but you can have 4 different layouts, that can be swapped to on the fly. Now there's a cooldown whenever you swap, but the fact that you can combine active powers from what would be trees that had never interacted previously makes up for it. Like combining the ability to freeze an enemy, with the ability to become invisible, with the ability to throw yourself at an enemy like a cannonball.

"So if the game's story is okay, and the gameplay is pretty neat, why did you say the game was less than what came before?" Because there's a But. And it's kind of a heavy But. And a multi-pronged But. First, I'll go back to what I mentioned earlier and say that the second (technically) planet you land on is just a slog. It's where you have to adjust to the gameplay, the missions are kind of bad, and you're kind of underleveled for the whole thing. Also it takes a very long time to actually get off that planet to forward the story.

The second prong is that there are missions that are untrackable. All of these missions are side-quests, which makes them eminently skippable, but if you're a completionist, you're probably going to have a bad time. See, they'll show up in your quest log, but they rely on random spawns to complete, so you can be wandering around a given planet for a couple of hours trying to complete it. Now, there's something to be said for exploring a planet, but on the off chance that's done already, or that you can't find the thing you're looking for because you haven't explored the planet (and have a rough idea of where things could be), again, you're probably gonna have a bad time.

Lastly, the glitches. Oh gosh the glitches. Bioware has been diligent in trying to quash these errors, but there are many. They are legion, but not to be confused with Legion. This also doesn't mean Bioware is in the same spot WB was in with the launch of Arkham Asylum on PC. The game is playable, even at launch, but death from a thousand cuts is still death, even if it's just in immersion. A couple of side-missions are glitched too though, so getting a 100% completion is virtually (if not actually) impossible.

So end result? It's a 6/10 game (reaching for a 7, though. Reaching hard.)

No, I'm not going to be talking about the multi-player. I'm only talking about parts of the game that consistently work.

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