Mass Effect Andromeda was released a couple of weeks ago with fairly positive feedback from most of the gaming community. Andromeda is a spin-off to the series and set in a different galaxy following a band of explorers aiming to populate the Andromeda galaxy and explore its mysteries. Take a look below as I decide whether or not it is a worthy successor and whether or not you should give it a try, or give it a miss.
Starting with the Story
It took me a little bit of time to get into the story and there was the odd time where it failed to engage me as much as I’d have liked and as effectively as the previous instalments. However, there are times when the story is really great. At times it grabs your attention and makes you want to know what happens next and push on. But then other times I found myself losing interest easily.
The story in my opinion doesn’t start as strong as they have with the previous games but it does have a good sense of adventure and mystery to it. Even though the story is strong, in my opinion it just doesn’t live up to the previous games. They set the bar pretty high and people have a lot of expectations for Andromeda but for me, the story just isn’t as good.
How does it look?
Graphically, Andromeda looks beautiful. I played on the PC and the game performs very well on high settings for my setup with not very many framerate drops. There is clearly a lot of attention to detail especially in the open world sections. Get to a nice height and on some planets you can see for miles. This is yet another game that gives you various instances where you just stop and admire your surroundings.
Lets tackle the big downside though, as many people have also said, upon initial release some of the character models and animations left much to be desired. The facial animations on some of the models lacked the realism and detail we’ve come to expect from the series. The past games offered so much more in this aspect. It does seem as if some characters have had attention but then others have just been ignored. Bioware have actually released a patch for this. As of the 6th April they have greatly improved the facial models and movement and plan to improve more on this in future updates, which is great to see.
I have also seen reports of issues for PS4 players with graphical instability and framerate drops. I was originally planning on getting Andromeda on the PS4 but several people advised against it due to the poor performance ruining the overall experience.
Gameplay and controls
The PC version now also has controller support. Something that was missing in Mass Effect 3. Having played the first two Mass Effects on the Xbox, then switching to PC for Mass Effect 3 I found the keyboard layout to be over complicated and non-Standard. I struggled to get used to it even though PC is my main platform. With Mass Effect Andromeda though you don’t need to worry about that should the controller be your weapon of choice. I played it with a controller and found the controls to be easy to use once you got to know them and respond quite smoothly.
There is still a skill system in this game and it seems a lot more in depth than in the past, different skills and power ups can be combined to various effects. Although you only have 3 power ups at a time, you actually get the option to switch between various skill sets to spice things up a little bit allowing the use of different powers. Most of the system you will find familiar if you have played the previous games.
How is the combat system?
Combat has been improved upon since the previous games and the most noticeable changes are the sound effects. Weapons actually sound like they pack a punch and are realistic, which helps to immerse you in the situation. Jump jets add another dimension to combat and work to give you a tactical advantage if used right. They have slightly changed the way you command your team mates. You now just have basic “Go here / Come back to me” commands, there is far less you can do with them now which is a bit of a shame.
Combat and movement feels a little bit clunky up close. Melee is quite slow to respond. There is a cover system but this has it’s flaws. If you have your weapon drawn and you approach a wall or an object it will automatically take cover. You have no control over this. If an enemy then appears behind you, and you turn around to take care of them, the game automatically stands you up. This takes you out of cover and leaves you open to fire from all directions. It can get quite frustrating at times. Hopefully this will be patched in the future.
Finally, the Mako Returns…Sort of
Along with a new ship you also get a new rover. The Nomad is a 6 wheeled surface vehicle similar to the Mako that is used for driving around on planets. One of the things I loved about the original Mass Effect was being able to land on planets and drive the Mako around so this does bring back some memories and a lot more excitement to being on planets.
The Nomad has speed boosters and thrusters used for jumping, just like the Mako. Although this one is a bit more realistic and less physics defying. There are two driving modes, All-terrain and Standard. Standard, on by default gives you speed and agility whereas All-terrain mode uses all 6 wheels and allows you to tackle these steep hills at much slower speeds. The Nomad has no weapons so isn’t useful for killing enemies with other than running them over. It also has a mining computer. When you enter an area that has resources to mine, you can use the mining computer to locate what type of resource it is. You can then deploy a mining drone to gather these resources for you.
Exploring the Galaxy
This time around Bioware have opted for a more open world game rather than a strict linear path. This is reflected by the huge worlds that you can land on and explore using the Nomad.
The galaxy map hasn’t changed much. There are some slight changes such as a first person view of your ship travelling between systems and planets. I’m not much of a fan of this myself. I preferred how it was in the previous games. It does add a bit more of a cinematic experience to it though rather than just seeing a little model of your ship flying across the stars.
When you come across planets you can scan for anomalies and launch probes to find resources. The same can be said for when you enter a new system. There are not as many planets that you can land on as I was expecting, which is a slight disappointment to me. But the planets you can land on have huge open worlds to explore which makes up for the lack of other planets.
So.. should you play Mass Effect Andromeda?
Although it has it’s flaws, Mass Effect Andromeda all in all is a good game. It has beautiful graphics with large open worlds to explore, plenty of missions and side quests to do as well as a good storyline and a great soundtrack. There are a few issues that put me off but they are not enough to make me want to stop playing the game.
The biggest issue for me is the character animations but you do learn to overlook this. Andromeda is not as good as the previous 3 games. I don’t think it lives up to the Mass Effect name as well as I’d have expected. Hopefully if a sequel is made Bioware will have learned from this one and I’m sure they will produce a game that equals the originals. I do recommend you pick up Mass Effect Andromeda despite it’s setbacks as you will still enjoy the story and the world that has been created.