|System: PS4, Xbox One, PC|
|Pub: Electronic Arts|
|Release: March 21, 2017|
|Players: Single player campaign, four-player online|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Violence|
When all the AAA, RPG-lite trimmings one would expect are this troublesome, coupled with major technical issues, you better believe Mass Effect: Andromeda makes a poor first impression. The whole thing just feels dated and clumsy. Even moving around in the hub worlds feels off. Protagonist Ryder runs with a sluggishness and otherworldly momentum that makes The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild feel like a technical masterpiece, despite its own issues. The combat is fine, but it’s still the same stuff from the previous games. Only now, there’s a worse camera and this weird focus on a jetpack-like jumping function that doesn’t bring much to the table besides weird platforming segments and banal jumping attacks. Some of the biotics are cool, and combat is notably fueled by a super-flexible skill tree. If you can stomach sifting through menus, Mass Effect: Andromeda is definitely the most flexible experience in the series. Even when you pick your background, you’re still open to blur the lines between the designated character classes.
I wish that flexibility extended to the flow of conversation and how you interact with the story. Considering Mass Effect’s position as one of the biggest profile choice-based video game out there, I don’t feel like I’m having much of an effect on anything happening in Mass Effect: Andromeda. There are a few instances where the wool fell over my eyes a little, but this is no The Walking Dead. Most of the dialogue consists of choosing the tone of your response, but not really the response itself. Much of an effort was made to lighten up the mood, compared to the original trilogy’s cast of mostly stuffy, military types. The intent seems to have been to give the characters more, well, character, but it feels more like the writers were on a big Joss Whedon kick, and decided to make everyone a bunch of indistinct, quippy doofuses when they aren’t puking out exposition. It doesn’t help that much of the dialogue is stilted, awkward, and doesn’t feel organic. It makes much of the cast really difficult to relate to, and much of the drama feels unearned as a result.
There’s a decent game in here somewhere, but Mass Effect: Andromeda feels like a collaboration from Mass Effect fans rather than a group of known and established developers. It’s like that cool thing everyone loves, a decade-plus removed from its creators and pushed down an assembly line. Mass Effect: Andromeda didn’t need to reinvent the wheel, but the wheel needed to have that special sheen that’s evidence of five years of polish and care. Instead it feels well meaning, but sloppy. There are little things to appreciate here and there: gorgeous environments, fascinating alien technology, and a healthy dose of Nolan North. But the majority of the experience is a head-scratcher. So much went wrong in so many places you wouldn’t expect from a game with such a pedigree,. But alas, Mass Effect: Andromeda is ultimately a disappointing reminder that sometimes the games industry attributes more value to a brand than the individuals who created it.