[This review contains spoilers]
Mass Effect: Andromeda is a good game and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that. It certainly isn’t perfect, it can have pacing issues (depending on your style of play…however it’s also a bit of a design flaw); and the character animation can be clunky.
But the story has heart.
I love Jaal. In some ways he should’ve been the main character, because really, it’s more his story than the ‘Pathfinders’. He grows from distrusting you, your people (the ‘aliens’), to seeing the great things you accomplish. The things you do for peace. You change his mind with your actions, and by being his friend. He begins standoffish, but if you play far enough, he considers you family.
This is huge, considering the Angaran trusted the Kett and were betrayed. You’re the alien. You have to be better, otherwise you’re no better than the villains of the game.
This is where the game could’ve capitalised on it’s choice mechanic. Do you gain their trust, make Andromeda better for everyone, or do you fuck up? Do you become worse than the Kett?
The game never goes there and it’s a waste of potential. That’s my biggest criticism of the game. It’s good, but it could’ve been better. It should have been better. Your choices should shape the future for Andromeda. Yet it barely did, your choices, for the most part, were superficial.
Except for a few, like breaking up a romantic relationship or gaining an alliance with the Krogan. I’ll admit when I chose the Salarian Pathfinder over Drack’s scouts, he called me out on it. And it hurt, because in someway, I had betrayed him. It was a small thing, but it made me feel like he’d never truly trust me again. By putting the mission before him, I had made a sacrifice, and no apology was going to fix it.
It’s a shame that this doesn’t happen more often. That’s it’s the only choice I regret, but would make again. It’s the sort of thing that separates a good and great game.
The characters, for the most part are good. Drack is an old man that could kick anyone’s arse. Peebee is insecure, but with a confident bravado. Kallo is great, and will always weigh in on Salarian issues.
Then there is Reyes Vidal. He’s cocky, a crook, and the perfect lover. I mean he’s just the perfect flirt, irresistible. Though I love that you can punch him if you take the friend route.
The loyalty missions are fun. The main mission has a good story, the Salarian ark being a highlight. Again though, the game suffers inconsistent pacing. There are times where the main quest can be forgotten in favour for side missions, or when other quests are put on ‘Hold’. You’re not sure when you can ‘get back’ to them. This makes the missions lose momentum, and when doing other tasks, important details can be forgotten by the player. This makes the story just that much more disengaging.
The game design can also lead to this, with it’s long drives to locations, to only have a cutscene before needing to fly to another planet. This can become tedious, another disengaging aspect.
The ‘alien’ Sudoku should be noted as a take it or leave it feature.
The gameplay was good, but to me, was played best as a cover shooter. Though watching other players, and listened to other people’s comments, it seems to be a highlight for most players. Especially with the addition of the jetpack. I enjoyed it, but I thought games like Titanfall 2 had better combat.
The art design is where this game really shines. Each Remnant vault was a treat to explore, and a feast for the eyes. They felt epic, both in scale and meaning. The gravity well only adding to that experience, as if you had truly entered the unknown.
As I stated above, this is a good game. Yes the character’s glitch, yes it can be annoying. But, for the most part, the voice acting is good. The characters grow as people, and you grow with them. There is a true sense of discovery in this game. Of being on the frontier of space. The writing, though inconsistent, shines where it really counts.
I may play this game again, and that to me, is compliment enough.