Available for: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Genre: Role-Playing, Sci-Fi
Metacritic Rating: 74%
Games that are similar: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, GTA in space
Swirling stars and sand-swept deserts go on to infinity in Mass Effect Andromeda. Flashes of bright blue light fill the room, as space-wizard superpowers compliment tight third-person shooting with jetpacks and flamethrowers galore.
These are the things that Mass Effect Andromeda highlights in its trailers and promotional materials, as any AAA title should, but it is close enough to misleading for a new player to the series to feel ripped off.
Introducing the world in a way that both informs newcomers to the series and pays service to the long-time fans of the series is hard. As the latter, I found myself torn.
Much advance criticism centres around immersion-breaking and glitched facial animations. Hailed as a completely new direction for the franchise, Andromeda seems to follow through on this promise in the most unfortunate of ways — none of the other games seem as neglected when it comes to the necessary polish.
With a complete reinvention of the combat system, Andromeda’s gameplay is smooth, fast-paced, and more intuitive than before. Giant guns, space superpowers, and future-tech can be used interchangeably, and lets the player choose their style.
Alas, few regulars to the franchise will come for the action alone; the series was built on the back of its story and character interactions, and 20 hours in, every quirk, smile and snicker is earned.
The protagonist, Ryder, is player-created, but to a lesser extent than with the blank slate character of the previous games, Shepard. Ryder is either “Scott” or “Sara,” depending on which sex the player chooses to take on, with the unpicked serving as the player’s twin sibling. Thrust into the role of “pathfinder” in a new galaxy, and tasked with finding a new home for everyone you’ve ever known, the stakes are high, and Andromeda presents it as such. Every action you take matters, and every conversation pushes the story forward.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is far from perfect. It is buggy, has a handful of lackluster lines of dialogue, and has an oddly-paced prologue. But it reminds veterans of the series of old more and more with each mission, and will win newcomers over more with each sideways quip from its eccentric but lovable characters. Andromeda offers the chance to explore — both a new galaxy, and a new obsession.