While we take a retrospective consideration of history this week, BioWare Montreal’s latest project thrusts towards the future in a galaxy far far away. Mass Effect Andromeda is the highly anticipated follow up to the acclaimed Mass Effect Trilogy, which concluded on what has been universally recognised as a disappointing note.
You find yourself as Ryder, the child of a human Pathfinder tasked with scouring the unexplored galaxy for a new home. Awakening after six hundred years of cryosleep, you discover the plans to settle four possibly-habitable ‘Golden Worlds’ has all but failed. Eerily, and as a staple of science-fiction, you are not alone. Though the game is not solely focused on a desperate search for home to an untethered population, as the scope of Mass Effect Andromeda widens to uncovering the ominous history of this alien galaxy. A history which may ultimately hold the key to survival.
Mass Effect Andromeda has improved where its predecessors had struggled in terms of combat. There is a greater emphasis on mobility, complemented by stunning visuals and crisp audio design, owing itself to a transition to the Frostbite engine. A fluid profile system replaces the typical RPG class system, whereby you can alternate between different attributes on the fly with zero penalty. This is a welcome addition that allows for playstyle freedom, much-needed to a game with a plethora of content.
Mass Effect Andromeda’s well-earned praise, however, is not without its glaring faults. The most obvious of which is the dated and often horrific animations, topped off with the cherry on the sundae that is frustrating design decisions and performance issues. The loadout system from Mass Effect 3 MP makes an unfortunate return, alongside a clunky and convoluted UI which frequently forces non-skippable cut scenes on the player that serve no real purpose aside from shoe-horned immersion. Essentially the gaming equivalent of padding the word count.
Overall, Mass Effect Andromeda is an unpolished but well-conceived space odyssey with sufficient mystery and intrigue to have personally kept me glued to my monitor for hours upon hours. Due to the frequent technical and design issues encountered, I hesitantly recommend this latest entry in the series.
By Simon Penny