Is Andromeda a welcome addition to the Mass Effect series?

Mass Effect: Andromeda is BioWare’s latest entry in the Mass Effect series. The last entry into the series was released 5 years ago and met with a little backlash because of the game’s ending. Other than that the series has been critically acclaimed for its graphics, gameplay and complex storyline.

Andromeda begins in 2185, between the events of the second and third games in the original trilogy. The four Citadel Council races and the Quarians are planning to populate new home worlds in the Andromeda Galaxy as part of a strategy called the Andromeda Initiative. Each race sends 20,000 citizens on a one-way, 600-year journey to the Andromeda aboard their own transportation vessel, called an Ark, and selects a leader, known as a Pathfinder. Once the races arrive, they help build the Nexus, a huge space station that serves as a center of government and diplomacy, a living area, as well as a base of operations for the Pathfinders. You play as the Pathfinder Ryder, tasked with getting a new home for the species.

I remember when the original game was released in 2007. It has some issues, merely it was groundbreaking. Since then BioWare has had a smashing run. Andromeda is welcomed, but flawed addition to the Mass effect series. Just like the previous ones before you could customize your character, everything from looks to alien species. Right away you could assign any skills that you want and build towards a specialty over the course of the game. For example, if the you choose to invest solely in biotic skills, Ryder will unlock the adept profile, which results in bonuses related to that play style. Experience points assigned to each accomplishment can be constantly reallocated so that players can experiment with multiple gameplay approaches without having to restart their games and build up their skills from scratch again. This was a great idea on their part, in the previous games the character you chose had its own set unique set of accomplishments but you couldn’t customize it much.

The original trilogy was more of action RPG with elements of exploration. Andromeda is the opposite, exploration RPG with action. Which goes with the story, you’re searching for life sustaining planets to create outposts. That’s not to say there isn’t any action, trust me there is a good deal. That brings me to the game’s combat. Bioware out did themselves with this. What makes the combat system so interesting and good, was the added addition of booster pack. It adds more depth and strategies to your fighting style. The player has the ability to choose between hiding behind a wall, go guns a blazing or using the boosters to get around the enemy. On top of that the action is more fast paced and exciting. Weapon and armor customization is back; it does take a while to become used to the new customization screen. After practicing it a few times, you’ll get the hang of it. Apply it and learn it well, it gives players the added power needed for some of the crazy boss battles. Be prepared some of these conflicts could be long.

Mass Effect has always pushed the limits with its graphics and facial animation. This is where things start to break down for Andromeda. There are moments when its graphics are astonishing. When you are driving your rover through some elaborate and beautiful landscapes. Then out of know where you will reach a rock that isn’t there or the game freezes to load up. Facial animation is 50/50, once in a while it looks swell, other times ok and sometimes just plain out stiff. After playing it for over a week, I found a few more bugs. One mission I had to investigate a group of scientist. I got to the waypoint to find no one there. I moved back, saved it, restarted the game and they magically appeared. Other times I was walking on air because it didn’t load up the ground. When I pressed the home button and proceeded back to the game the ground reappeared. Most of the glitches aren’t big, but they do sometimes carry you away from the game. I understand video game developers have a deadline to fulfill. Another few months in development would have made this game the classic it should have been. Hopefully we will get an update that will fix these issues.

Mass Effect: Andromeda is a fun and lengthy, but the glitches keep it from greatness.


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