gaming

Mass Effect Andromeda initial thoughts

So, I have played 5 hours of the Mass Effect: Andromeda campaign. Here are my thoughts.

I tried to keep things less on the spoiler-y side, focusing on aesthetics, combat, and dialog. But since the game does not launch until the 20th, by the very nature of things there will be minor spoilers.

Meet Dick Ryder! I am SO sorry, my beautiful daughter, but I can never pass up a pun.

Aesthetics

Yes, as the naysayers have reported, there are quite a few awkward animations.

I have noticed that when you engage in conversation with some of the characters, sometimes they oddly twitch in a way that behaves like an involuntary, jerky shoulder shrug. There is another unnatural motion where characters stretch their arms outward while holding conversation as well. I thought maybe the first time it happened, Dr. T’Perro was being protective… and then other background characters also made the motion?

Your arms are gonna get tired, honey.

These things are not exactly game breaking glitches but I can see them as breaks in immersion. Kind of like that wonderful glitch in Mass Effect 3’s Omega DLC where Aria T’Loak did a 360 for no apparent reason while talking with Shepard.

I tease because I love.

The facial expressions are limited, though I find that common in BioWare character design. People have been comparing ME:A to series like Metal Gear, which is something I do not find exactly fair.  Instead, I will compare Andromeda to the other games in the Mass Effect series.

The look of the game itself makes me think of it as Mass Effect 2.5. The teeth, in particular, can be distracting because they look like white… blocks as Ryder speaks. That is bothersome in a game where the characters do a lot of talking. It has been seven years since the release of Mass Effect 2, how is it that they took such a step backwards in their own design?

Mass Effect 2 (2010) vs. Mass Effect: Andromeda (2017). PLEASE tell me I am not the only one who looks at teeth while people talk.

I did not find the look of sweat particularly good looking, either. It is fairly amateur and almost plastic looking? I suppose it fits the more cartoon-y style that BioWare employs, though.

My biggest complaint about the facial models is that they still have clipping issues with their eyes and eyelashes. At times, the eyes and eyelashes of a focused character sinks into their head, which is majorly distracting. It even happens to aliens, such as turians! This issue is not new to BioWare because I can remember eyelashes sinking into skin all throughout the first Mass Effect game. But THAT launched in 2007, we should be past that now.

Papa Ryder was a huge offender for eyeball / eyelash clipping.

Not everything is awkward movements and texture popping, though. There are some absolutely stunning views. I always found BioWare particularly capable at developing lovely environments and Andromeda is no exception.

There are some gorgeous scenes on the first planet you visit; this is when you first land. There is even more beauty to be found further into the planet but I am not sharing in this review because it is much more spoiler-y.

The mysterious alien enemies are also very nicely designed. They look otherworldly and very threatening.

Combat

The combat in Andromeda is fast paced and a lot of fun. It is reminiscent of 3. The generic key commands are also easy to work with; V to holster/unholster, left mouse to shoot, 1 and 2 are your active abilities. It is a good change from the cumbersome ability wheel. I also enjoyed the new Pathfinder scanning ability (G); I ended up pretty much wanting to scan everything in my path*!

*This comes in handy because the points you earn scanning tech, objects, and organics come in handy in the near future.

Like Mass Effect 3, no matter what background you choose to be, you can use whatever type of gun you want. I deal in Biotics (Adept) and mostly wielded an Assault Rifle.

Instead of playing multiplayer to raise your “war assets” like in 3, you have a terminal with side missions where you can launch into playing a multiplayer match yourself to complete the mission or you can send a group of specialists in your place. The specialists you are assigned have a 0-100% chance to succeed at the bonus missions, which all have different hazards.

Story / Dialogue

There are times where the dialogue has awkward pacing. There is a scene in particular where you meet a salarian and human duo for the first time that has practically became an internet meme because it is so cringeworthy.

Even Ryder gives that scene some serious side eye.

But it is not all bad.

I found myself with tears in my eyes at the conclusion of the first mission. Moments like that? It is why I am such a huge Mass Effect fan in the first place.

Conclusion?

There are kinks in the game, for sure. But hey, considering my love for Bethesda games, I am used to putting up with some graphical and coding oddities, WINKWINK.

The five hours I spent was enough to hook me into wondering where the story goes from here.

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