While I mostly went into the latest Mass Effect completely blind, having only absorbed the initial reveal trailer, it was however difficult to avoid the amount of gifs and scorn following its appearance on EA Access. Funny walks, weird faces and glitches abound on Twitter, it somewhat tempered my expectations. I consider the Mass Effect Trilogy to be my favourite series of last gen, with the second game making its way into my Top 3 games of all time. I have yet to play a bad Bioware game – even though Dragon Age 2 was game loathed by many I found it to be a highly enjoyable affair. And despite everyone giving it a good kicking I can safely say Mass Effect: Andromeda isn’t as bad as people would have you believe.
That said, it’s hard to disagree with those that played the EA Access trial, because my word it takes a while to get going. The opening planet and story setup is poorly handled and thanks to the bad storytelling and action during this segment it’s hard to not to focus on the poor character animations. Not just faces, but crazy running as swinging the stick from side to side causes Ryder to go all jelly-legged. There’s a definite element of getting it out before the end of the fiscal year because a few more months seem like they were definitely needed.
One night it can be perfect, hopping between planets, chatting with your teammates, the next it can be a bug ridden mess. One particularly bad night I was unable to hand in completed quests because the game wouldn’t let me talk to any of the NPCs until I restarted the game. This was before characters started floating across the floor as I was talking to them and after I was unable to fast travel anywhere because the game still thought I was in combat.
For every awesome moment that reminds you of why you love the series, there’s always something just around the corner that sends you crashing back to Earth. You can be exploring a beautiful planet one minute, the next you end up trapped in your ship’s cargo bay because the door loading animation is stuck.
Yet, despite all its faults there’s still something there that keeps bringing me back. The combination of space and RPG always appeals to me and your new squad is interesting enough to hold my attention. Yes, nobody here is as awesome as Garrus, but I always knew this was going to be the case.
A new element for the series is the ability to colonise worlds. By completing side quests you raise the viability of each planet you can visit, once you reach a certain threshold you’re able to set up a colony. I am intrigued to see where the main plot thread ends up, but it’s hard to concentrate on it because I’m thoroughly enjoying going around a planet in the Mako V2, solving people’s problems.
Like playing through a space drama, I am enjoying the individual stories, the space adventure and the overall story arc. There is a Mass Effect game buried underneath, but it just requires a lot more effort to dig out the good bits. It’s a game desperately in need of a patch, but for now, I’m kind of enjoying it.