Growing up as a gamer, I’ve always been drawn to JRPGs as it feels great to live through the stories, while expanding my child-like imagination. My scope of role-playing games then expanded to sci-fi RPGs, all thanks to the Mass Effect series. I’m not a huge follower of science fiction and I’ve only played the first entry a few years after its release, but it still had enough offerings to keep me drawn to the world of Commander Shepard and his quest to save the galaxy in the subsequent releases. Needless to say, I became a fan and even though I didn’t get to complete my personal Shepard story after losing all my save files during a Mass Effect 3 playthrough, the pleasant experience I had with the franchise got me excited for Andromeda.
I’m sure that I can speak for almost all of the Mass Effect fans that the hype was intense when BioWare announced Andromeda at E3 2015, 3 years after the end of the original trilogy. With that said, the pre-launch marketing for the game, or the lack of thereof, is a premonition on what’s to come. Fans were worried that we might get an incomplete or broken product, and our worse fears came true when the first impression videos were uploaded online, citing many inconsistencies with the game, namely the infamous awkward facial animations. Of course, one can never judge a book by its cover so everyone waited for the official reviews, which as we know by now, didn’t paint the full game in much of a positive light either.
Inconsistent facial animations can be overlooked in certain games, but it’s hard not to have it affecting our experience playing the game as conversations play a big part in BioWare titles. The earlier Mass Effect entries suffered from the same problem as well, but Andromeda’s animations can be intrusive on so many levels. It says something when Andromeda was turned into a laughing stock with all the memes created just from the first five hours of the game. Even if you can stand the inconsistencies, the dialogues don't help either, with most of the game’s characters turning out to be dull, and conversations with them were mostly surfaced level without any real impact to the overall narrative. On top of that, technical issues were also prevalent in the form of random glitches, framerate drops, and audio issues. Even though they won’t render the game unplayable, but it’s still annoying nonetheless.
With that said, there are some positive aspects of Andromeda, or else this article will be in an entirely different tone. BioWare has finally delivered on their promise of delivering a proper space exploration game, giving players plenty of vast open planets to explore, with each of them having distinctive environments and hazards. Combat is mostly enjoyable with all the class changes that you can make on the go, although the freedom of choice here destroys the feeling of making meaningful character development decision. The voice acting quality is mostly strong in the game, giving players some sort of a distraction from the subpar facial animations.
Despite all the good things Andromeda has to offer, it’s still hard to ignore some of the shortcomings that come with them, such as the tedious side quests during planet explorations, a rather bland narrative, and the dull supporting casts. The positives didn’t manage to outweigh the game’s issues, causing it to be a shortcoming in terms of recapturing all the goodness the original trilogy has to offer. But of course, not all hope is lost as BioWare seems committed to improving Andromeda over the long run, and judging by past releases, it is possible for developers to salvage and improve their game’s reputation with proper support. Until that day comes, it’s very unlikely I’ll purchase Mass Effect: Andromeda, at least not for the full price.