By Donovan Floyd
After four long years in the making, the public finally got its first taste of the much-yearned-for Mass Effect: Andromeda. Well, EA and Origin Access members did. Although I didn’t get much of a chance to indulge in the multiplayer during the 10 hours allotted, I did sink my teeth into the single player galaxy to get as much out of it as I could. Here’s what I thought about it, the good and the bad.
The Mass Effect Good
Mass Effect: Andromeda is by far the most fun Mass Effect game that I’ve ever played. BioWare did a great job balancing the third person shooter elements and with the RPG elements – so far. The jump jet added some much-needed mobility to the on-foot exploration and action sequences, making it much more fun to move around. The game saved me a couple of times from falling off ledges when I wasn’t looking at where I was going, key in a generally long game like this. I repeatedly said while streaming the game that I couldn’t get over how much fun using the jump jet was. Combat was also very fluid and I was happy with how much variety the profiles system gave the combat gameplay.
While RPG elements like the crafting and exploration were a little overwhelming at first, it was a much-welcomed call back to the first game of the trilogy. The new crafting system allowed me to really personalize my load out in a way I’ve only ever been able to do in, say, Fallout. Exploring the environment is not only natural (thanks to the lack of impending doom for the galaxy). It’s encouraged by your supporting characters. Which is good, because… you know… you’re the Pathfinder… it’s kinda your job.
The scenery and environments are amazing. Even with the two missions that I played, it was clear that the devs took the set pieces of Mass Effect 3 and made them even better. Even when there were no living creatures around me, the world still felt alive and active.
The characters become pretty interesting early on. Liam, the idealistic crisis response specialist and Cora, the Pathfinder’s second in command, seem like much-more likable versions of Kaidan and Ashley, though I can confidently say that my favorite right now is Vetra. She won me over with her personality from the very first interaction. I can easily see her as a long-term party member (Those Turians, man).
The Mass Effect Bad
You’ve probably heard it a million times. I’ve heard it a million times. We’ve all heard it a million times, so I’ll make it a million-and-one: The facial animations for the human characters are, for the most part, pretty terrible. The common characteristics are the cold, dead eyes, lack of gestures and movements, and awkward lip syncing. They weren’t all bad, however. Alec Ryder, the original pathfinder and father of the main character, was animated beautifully and the voice acting was spectacular, so it was a little unfortunate to see such inconsistencies with when dealing with important characters like Foster Addison, the Andromeda Initiative’s Director of Colonial Affairs.
The biggest disappointment by far (to me) was the incredibly limited character creation. All we are given are a few presets with barely any freedom to change characters’ looks. We can’t alter the shape of the facial features, only their sizes and positions. There were only a few options for hairstyles, and as an African American, I was disappointed to see only two badly designed afros, a short and a long one. This left me with a character that I was not satisfied with – even after an hour with tinkering. This may not be very important to those that will only use the default Ryders for their playthroughs. But as a person who puts a great emphasis on personalization, I couldn’t stay fully immersed in the game without looking at my character during dialogue scenes and finding things I wasn’t quite satisfied with. It would’ve been better had they just copy-and-pasted Dragon Age: Inquisition’s character creation into the game.
The game isn’t perfect. But then again, none of the Mass Effect games were. Lead designer Ian Frazier has stated that they will continue improving on Andromeda and releasing patches long after the initial release. So maybe the issues will be addressed in the future. As a whole, the gameplay is super fun and the story is solid so far. I just hope it gets better as I play the rest of the game. I will be streaming it when it releases, so feel free to come check it out at http://www.twitch.tv/gravidonn.
Donovan Floyd is a contributing writer/intern for The Circle. He also wrote about building his own gaming rig.