Mass Effect: Andromeda . . . Now that the Dust Has Settled
Mass Effect: Andromeda is a divisive game to say the least. Many fans hate this latest addition to the franchise, citing it as "the death of Mass Effect," while others genuinely adore it, going as far as saying that it is their favorite entry so far. For me, the game is a mixed bag, with some bad and honestly plenty of good, so now that the community has died down a bit, I figured it was time for me to throw my opinions out there.
OK, let's start off with the bad:
The animations in this game are rough, and I definitely think more time should have gone into testing before release. This can also be seen in the amount of bugs and glitches the game has (we're talking Skyrim level here).
As for other negative aspects: The story isn't spectacular, the lighthearted options for dialogue aren't that well written (but well delivered, to be fair to the voice actors), and the user interface has no logical design to it. It's honestly just an endless sea of menus and folders, and having to check your email on the Tempest is a pain (I know it was like this in the trilogy too, but now you have the forward stations on each map -- no reason we can't check there).
Now that that's out of the way, on to what I like about Andromeda -- and there is a lot to like:
The combat is easily the best the series has had so far. The jump jet adds so much here, allowing the combat to be faster and smoother than in previous installments. Also, the profiles system is fantastic, allowing you to switch out your powers/abilities on the fly, which adds much more variety to the combat than that of previous games.
The vehicle sections are also the best the series has had so far (which admittedly isn't hard after the Mako & Hammerhead). Exploring these vast, open worlds is actually enjoyable thanks to the Nomad, and while I wouldn't mind having a weapon mounted, vehicle combat isn't really missed. The Nomad handles beautifully, and being able to mod it and customize the paint job was also a nice touch.
Exploration in this game is great. The worlds of Andromeda are interesting and diverse, each with its own personality, story, and dangers. It's the first time in a Mass Effect game I've landed on a planet and thought, "Let's just pick a direction and see what's out there" and ended up in an unexpected situation. This kept me engaged enough to keep coming back.
The crafting system here is fantastic, aside from the awful UI I mentioned earlier. With enough resources and research, you can build any weapon you want (I'm personally loving my sticky grenade-firing machine gun with infinite ammo), and it's the same with armor too -- augmentations can grant you a variety of perks to use in the field to boost shields, power cool downs, etc.
As for characters, now, I know that Mass Effect has a huge roster of brilliant, irreplaceable characters from the first three games, and to some, no newcomer can ever live up to them. I understand this, but at the same time, I found myself getting attached to this new crew. Liam and Cora aren't that great, but Drack, Vetra, Jaal, and Peebee are all brilliant additions to the Mass Effect universe, and I had a blast exploring alongside them. This is helped by the welcome return of Mass Effect 2-style loyalty missions.
The enemies in this game are also good. Whilst not as bone-chillingly ominous as the Reapers, the Kett serve as decent villains here; their story is interesting, and discovering their connection to the other Andromeda residents gives you plenty of reasons to want to shoot them some more.
Finally, the ending (no spoilers) was one of the main things I was worried about going into this game. After Mass Effect 3, we needed to end this game on a high note, and it does deliver. The final mission is so satisfying, and whilst the final boss battle is fairly uninspired, the ending as a whole is a positive and a great foundation for future installments.
So is this the best game ever? No. Does it have problems? Yes. But is it a good game? Definitely.
Whilst not quite living up to the hype following the original trilogy, Mass Effect Andromeda provides us with a solid foundation to relaunch the series away from Shepard and the Reapers. It feels very much like a spiritual successor to Mass Effect 1 rather than a sequel to Mass Effect 3, and I can understand why this isn't what some people were looking for. Personally, I think it's what the series needs to keep going.
I'm giving Mass Effect: Andromeda a 7/10.