I have poured more hours into the Mass Effect (ME) series than I am openly willing to admit. I have minor gripes with tiny mechanical issues here and there but have been completely fulfilled in playing each entry over the course of time. Since Electronic Arts have pulled the plug on the single player campaign support, it’s about time to give the real dish on the dichotomous nature of Mass Effect Andromeda (MEA). This ain’t the ‘I need to give this game the go-ahead review before release so the game companies like and sponsor me’ review. This the, ‘It’s been out for months and I have seen it at its best and worst moments, plus I paid half price for it for it because if I return it I only get back a Bazooka Joe, a floppy disk, and bus fare home’ review.
Gameplay and Camera
I’ve always been a proponent of the gender/sexuality options offered at the onset of character creation in Mass Effect. It’s still tightly bound to the binary of male/female, but I’ll give props for first steps. The ability to engage in romantic relationships in-game has become a benchmark of the series, and Andromeda does not disappoint. You can bag just about anyone on your crew with the right dialogue branch. “Ay yo, Turian with the lubricated mandibles and preference for sniper rifles! What’s good?!”
Removing the ‘Paragon/Renegade’ system was met with some community pushback (outrage), but without that dynamic, it becomes much easier to explore the many possibilities of the single-player campaign without racking your brain regarding the ethics or the constrained time limit to respond. I say this as someone who had WAY too much fun backhanding nosy ass news reporters in ME2. Replay value was high as hell after that. I digress… Movement in MEA is finally hella intuitive, Ryder almost moves exactly as your imagination thinks they should. The use of jump jets or biotics to dash, jump, and the ability to do both after a short cool down allows for some very exciting gameplay. The camera is attached to the gameplay in MEA, and handles well mostly, sometimes gets janky when trying to highlight interactive elements.
The arsenal is weighty, Ryder has a plethora of gats to choose from. The assault rifle, sniper rifle, and shotgun classes remain unchanged, the submachine gun (SMG) class now falls under the ‘pistol’ class. This minor change did not streamline much, there are still waaaaayyyy too many guns available. Given that the ‘inventory’ is a numerical weight system there’s no reason my stealthy Infiltrator needs eleven shotguns. I just don’t. NO ONE DOES. Having the ability to craft weapons, armor, and mods were fun for about two hours before I just wanted to buy them all to save time.
Combat gameplay is righteous, feeling like what I was wishing for in the first ME entry: futuristic Gun-Fu. The combat weight system returns but offers the option to hold up to FOUR WEAPONS AT ONCE. This is on some Neo in the lobby shit y’all, let me tell you.
Although, I should mention that the proximity-based AI combat in the single player campaign makes the sniper rifle class absolutely pointless: you will never be far enough away to make those shots satisfying. Never. Online multiplayer is more of the same sharp, team-based combat with a little spice and variation thrown in with APEX difficulty missions. Adding to the frontier aspect of the gameplay is the Viability dynamic, which offers the player to explore new worlds and make them habitable. It’s here that the campaign takes shape in making players feel the responsibility of Ryder’s role as Pathfinder. Choosing who comes out of cryogenic storage and why; making huge and historic decisions for the fate of humanity; all play a large part in how the game’s many narrative branches unfold.
Sound design in MEA a small blessing. Things that exist in reality sound like they are supposed to and all the imagined sci-fi, things sound like I imagine they would. Except for one looming concern: THERE IS NO AIR IN SPACE, SO THERE SHOULDN’T BE ANY EXPLOSION SOUNDS AND REALLY BARELY ANY EXPLOSIONS. That said, there is a badass moment with an Asari that has a sound that was worth defying the laws of known physics in Mass Effect Andromeda’s opening theme. Speaking of opening themes, MEA’s is a great and purposeful blend of classical scoring that transforms into a quasi-dubstep track with some ill, dirty bass drops. The combat music does it’s job: letting you know when you’ve merc’ed errrbody in a given battle and offering gravitas to boss battles.
Story & Voice Work
The story is sweeping and huge, despite some of the repetitions and fetch quests that feed it fuel. If you are new to the Mass Effect universe, you are in for one hell of a pioneering mission into the unknown. If you been down since the Normandy, you will have a challenging time getting used to the new rules but will be rewarded by story’s end. The writing is great, the voice work is up to par, and the hours of side conversation by squad members and NPCs alike flesh out the narrative and the universe itself. It all feels real in some ways.
While every game has bugs, this one has the mightiest. It has the kind of bugs that make missions incapable of completion (several missions, by the way). The kind of bugs that end a multiplayer session on platinum difficulty because you couldn’t revive a teammate (for no foreseeable reason). The kind of bugs that force a parent company to dissolve a studio and effectively cast a negative shadow on the legacy of one of the largest gaming franchises in the last ten years. EA patched a few. The bugs hamper things, rain on a few parades, but they do not ruin this game. Not by a long shot.
The ambition and scope of the universe contained within this game is gigantic. I applaud the team at BioWare for making this game happen, and for all the work that went into crafting this piece of interactive art. At Gamescom, EA Executive Vice President Patrick Soderlund said simply, “… I usually don’t do this, but this is one of those places where I feel like the game got criticized a little bit more than it deserved… I see no reason why we shouldn’t come back to Mass Effect. Why not? It’s a spectacular universe, it’s a loved [series], it has a big fanbase, and it’s a game that has done a lot for EA and for BioWare.”
I can tell you with a straight face, in spite of every flaw presented, you should still play this game.
*Quote from Patrick Soderlund obtained from GameReactor.eu
Bishop, Sam. “Patrick Söderlund.” Gamereactor UK, 23 Aug. 2017, 11:00,