Mass Effect: Andromeda

This is my critique so there may be SPOILERS though I haven’t finished (and may never finish so I’m not sure how much I can actually spoil).  So here goes —
Playing Mass Effect: Andromeda has begun to feel like doing homework. Not fun and like my parents will be really pissed if I don’t get my work done after I spent money for this so I better play some tonight.  
Wondering if it was just me I went looking for some reviews and, my god, they are scathing. Almost every complaint mirror my own. Tiny things first — the navigation is impossibly hard and incredibly annoying. I waste so much time trying to find stuff, and I hate the straight line radar rather than the circular radar screen in the Dragon Age games.  I also end up with so many waypoints that I can’t remove that I’m constantly getting lost.  I think I’m heading for a lost drone, but find out I’ve ended up where there’s a dead body instead.  I know I need to scan the body, but damn it I needed to recover that drone and that’s what I wanted to do.
 
I’ve found all the companions to be really dull.  Apart from Drak and the engineer Gil they are tedious and annoying though Jaal does have a voice like dark velvet. The voice actors are average to mediocre — not something I expect from BioWare who usually have such outstanding voice talent.  I don’t want to romance any of these people.  
The game is filled with boring fetch quests that don’t seem to accomplish much in terms of the larger narrative, and I don’t give a damn about the main storyline.  I don’t believe the people on the Nexus are going to starve if I don’t get all the vaults up and running.  I have no relationship with anyone on the Nexus and I’ve got a cool ship so why should I care?  My sister in a coma has no relevance to me since I’ve never interacted with her from the moment the game begins.  She’s just in a coma.  I seem to have a more personal relationship with the AI.  There’s this big ship eating cloud that wrecked the human arc, but it’s no where as interesting as Tali investigating the death of the sun in Mass Effect 2.  You tell me the Scourge is a construct that suddenly appeared, and bits of Scourge appear on planets and will hurt you even through your armor and shields, but then it just gets dropped.  It seems like the Scourge is the thing that messed up the environment on or colony planets, but that doesn’t appear to be the point of the main quest.  It seems to be the Kett — who are just low budget Reapers in that they change their prisoners so they fight their own kind.  The other major alien race the Angara are barely developed they just seem to be gentle with big eyes and mystical.
Some of the little easter eggs — finding out Zaeed Massani had a son was a momentary buzz but all it did was remind me how much more I liked the first game and how much I miss those characters; Rex and Kaidan and Zaeed and Anderson and Liara and Garrus — always Garrus — etc.
I hate the voice actors for the male and female Ryders and the dialog seems flat.  Maybe that’s due to the delivery, but I don’t find the conversations all that interesting.  My Dragon Age Warden and my Inquisitor and my Shepard became very real for me.  They had lives and backstories and hopes and dreams outside of the game.  Hell I ended up writing a 140 page novella that was my ending for Mass Effect 3 because I was so annoyed with the ending BioWare provided.  That is more than a bit of identification with a character when a professional writer takes time from paying work to give their character a satisfying ending.  Ryder is so dull he’s just a puppet I’m pushing around the screen.
The fact that the animals on every planet are basically the same whether it’s a desert, jungle or snow planet was just lazy and the there is a stultifying sameness to the vaults.  I’ve now opened three of the damn things and it’s the same damn dungeon crawl every time.  The combat is good, but if I just wanted to shoot things I’d play Halo.  I’m playing a biotic this time who has weapons skills, but it’s really hard to figure out how to change my skills.  In the old games it was easy.  I brought up the combat wheel and picked.  Now it’s mapped and I haven’t figured how to switch to say a tech power use rather than biotic.  I hated this change in Inquisition too in that once you’ve mapped the skill you are stuck with it until you stop and remove and remap them.  At least I figured out how to do that in Dragon Age: Inquisition.  I’m still trying to figure it out in Andromeda though truthfully I don’t care enough to try all that hard.
It’s just heartbreaking to see a once great company becoming mediocre.  I had some hope after the debacle of the end of Mass Effect 3 and the mess that was Dragon Age: 2 when  Inquisition seemed to regain their mojo.  I had hoped they would show the same return to form with Andromeda.  Instead this game has left me utterly cold and I think I’m going to give up and either finish my replay of Inquisition, replay the first Mass Effect trilogy which was brilliant apart from the final 15 minutes or download Witcher 3 and start that game.  By the way, I replayed Dragon Age: Origin while I was home in NM and that game is still the gold standard despite the advancements in graphic design and game play — Because The Story Is So Good.
Yeah, whether we’re talking movies or games it doesn’t matter if you’ve got whiz bang effects and big boss fights if the story is shite and you don’t care about the people.
Hey studios both movie and game studios — It’s the Story Stupid.

One Response to Mass Effect: Andromeda

  • Tim S says:

    Witcher 3 has definitely set a precedent for quests and storylines in future games. It’s a massive, gorgeous RPG, and every single side quest offers its own little contained story – although sometimes, a simple quest on the side weaves elegantly into the main plot later on 🙂

    Can recommend the indie game To the Moon for a short, sweet and poignant story.

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