The original Mass Effect was one of my favourite game series to date and even though some people had trouble with the way it ended, I for one enjoyed the ride and was very much looking forward to Andromeda. This game takes humans to a brand new galaxy as they search for a new homeworld that just so happens to be a 600 year journey from the Milky Way.
The game begins as you wake from hypersleep and choose to be one of the two Ryder twins, either male or female. Here you can customize your character, although I ended up choosing the default male character because everyone else I tried to make was just so damn ugly! I didn’t want to be staring at these faces for the whole game!
During the prologue you become the Pathfinder as you explore the first planet you crash land on after encountering a web-like space anomaly called the Scourge. This basically means you are bonded with a computer AI called SAM which acts as your guide throughout the game akin to Jarvis in the Ironman movies, as you look for a new home, try to find the other missing Arks full of races that have gone missing and try to find out what is causing this Scourge menace.
Mass Effect fans won’t be too disappointed with this game, although for some reason it lacks that epic feel of the first games. I guess it’s because secretly we all still want to play as N7’s Commander Shepard. It kind of feels like playing as Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2 when all we wanted to be was Snake.
Combat is much improved from the first games. It’s more streamlined and immediate, with the ability to jump, boost and hover around autocover and your AI teammates looking after themselves. You can upgrade their abilities or auto-upgrade them, and they do a decent job of using biotics, grenades and the like so you can take down enemies including the Kett, a bone-faced race that seem to be wherever you go as you try to figure out what the robotic Remnant technology is that is able to terraform worlds and make them viable for habitation.
As well as following the main quest that will take you from world to world in Andromeda, there’s also a reason to explore a tonne of side-quests on all the worlds, either to improve relationships with your squad mates or to raise the viability meter of each planet. Get it high enough and you can set up a new outpost which will strengthen your position in every solar system.
This being an RPG there is also a layer of depth here which you can choose to go with or ignore. You can conduct research and development of new abilities, weapons and armour and then craft them with all the salvage and minerals you can find and mine for. These can either be scanned and salvaged in outer space by launching probes, or collected via the mining pod you can fire from your rover called the Nomad. This is a vast improvement to the Mako in the previous games. It reminds me of the Batmobile with a 4-wheel drive mode and a boost and hover ability which can get you round the hostile planet surfaces.
If you’re a fan of as much lore and story as possible then there are plenty of races and characters to talk to everywhere you look. Familiar Milky Way aliens are back including Turians, Krogans, Sularians and Asari, as well as a new race called the Angara. These snake-like bipeds area also integral to the story so let’s hope you don’t have a phobia of anything with a hood on its neck.
It’s a shame that the graphics are a mixed bag in this game. Some of the worlds and effects in space are breath-taking, but then the characters themselves are nothing to write home about. Movements can look awkward and everyone looks rather dead behind the eyes. They actually look worse than I remember them looking on the Xbox 360 games!
I’ve waited for the patch to review this game, so I won’t complain about the bugs and non-skippable space scenes as they’re not relevant, and hey, maybe there will be more patches as the game lives on, but for now I’m enjoying the game and it’s good to be back in the Mass Effect universe, despite some of the game feeling a little rushed or neglected. It gets an excellent 8 out of 10.
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