Video Games

Mass Effect: Andromeda

Hold onto your omni-tools, friends. We got some things to discuss.

So, if you’ve read any of my previous reviews of the games in this franchise (which can be found here or here), you know I’m a bit of a fan. Maybe even a bit more than “just” a fan. I love these games. I got so invested in Commander Shepard and the universe that she was fighting to save. They are easily some of my favorite games of all time. Needless to say, the expectations for Andromeda were high. And also, sorta unique. Before Andromeda, all the games I’ve played, I played after the hype. I never had to wait for them, never got to go to a midnight release, never got to experience the kinks and rough patches of a newly released game. With Andromeda, I got to experience it all.

And it was epic.

Fair warning: spoilers abound after this. Proceed with caution. 

Kill It With Fire

First off, the gameplay mechanics were absolutely fantastic. I absolutely loved fighting in this game. It felt so flawless, so clean, if that word makes any sense. I’ve never played a game and felt so badass, killing Kett and Chosen left and right. I loved the hovering affect, how you could linger in mid-air and still shoot at something (though I never really mastered this). I loved the way you could switch profiles, building different sets of skills to switch between in different situations (though I didn’t actually really use this, I did like that the option was there and I might try and experiment with this more during my next run through). The combos were awesome (I was a fan of the any fire combos, personally) and I found myself dying a lot less playing Andromeda than I ever did in the Shepard’s trilogy.

And I definitely fell in love with my Krogan Hammer.

Pick Up All the Plants

You get to explore five main worlds: Eos, Havarl, Kadara, Elaaden and Voeld. All of them had unique atmospheres, terrain and environments, all which started out hazardous thanks to the vaults you need to bring back to life (also, those puzzles to unlock the vaults? Awesomeness). The graphics were gorgeous and I absolutely adored searching inch by inch through every world I could, picking up all the resources I could find (which probably explains why it took ages for me to actually beat the game). I think Havarl was probably my favorite. The purple and blue color scheme was just gorgeous. Voeld was definitely my least favorite. I suck at driving the Nomad to begin with, but you want me to drive it over ice? Yeah, I’m sure you know how that went.

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Too Many Best Friends

One of my favorite elements of any BioWare game are my companions. I love learning their backstories, their personalities, discovering their quirks and trying to be everyone’s best friend (#Paragonforlife). As such, it’s always hard when you have too many favorites and never enough time to do all the missions bringing all your favorites along. Andromeda was no exception to this.

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Drack was my home boy. By far my favorite. I loved that he was older and called me “kid.” Plus, it kind of hard not to love the Krogan indefinitely. Jaal was definitely high on the list, too. His openness with his emotions, thanks to his being Angaran (which, helloooo new race and epic awesomeness) made him so easy to get along with and I always wanted him on my missions. I loved Liam’s humor (and goodness, I laughed too hard during his loyalty mission). Vetra is my girl who I wished I would have gotten to know better. In my next playthrough, I’ll definitely be having her tag along a little bit more. Peebee was annoying at first, but kinda grew on me. I disliked Cora the entire time. I can’t even give you a good reason why. I just didn’t like her.

Also, movie night? Hell to the yes.

Oh, and there were some awesome secondary characters, like Gil or Kesh, who I was also fond of. But not Director Tann or Addison. Fuck them.

Be Still, My Beating Heart

So, if you read this post, you’ll know that I was pretty stoked that BioWare was trying to make the romances more realistic. Again, the romances are one of the aspects I love about BioWare’s games (I’m pretty sure I still have dreams about Commander Cullen. Hello). However, I did find myself a little disappointed by it (at least the romance track I went down). I romanced Liam and the flirting was fun and the dates we went on were actually really cute. But after we became serious, nothing changed in his dialogue and no one else really acknowledged it, which was sad. Those were the types of changes I was hoping for. Where were the jokes from the crew? Because that crew would have made jokes. I wasn’t completely disappointed, but just a little bummed–yet still excited to try out a different romance later.

You Exalted What

So, the plot. The story. There are some major things going on in Andromeda.

The main plot: arcs leave the Milky Way galaxy and travel to Andromeda, staying in cryo for 600 years before waking up to a new galaxy and new golden worlds. Except, of course, the golden worlds have changed since they were scouted 600 years earlier and they are not exactly…habitable. And now it’s up to the Pathfinder to fix them (which was your Dad’s job, but I’m sure you can guess how that ended up, making it your job).

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Fighting those Architects, though…

Overall, I liked the story. I liked the introduction of the Kett and the Angara, and how those two species connected (hello exaltation). I wasn’t as invested as I was with Commander Shepard and the fight against the Reapers, but naturally, I had three games to ensnare me, so I’m not surprised or disappointed that I wasn’t as invested into Ryder and her fight. I really enjoyed the twist with a certain individual and a cryo pod (whereas another certain individual and a cryo pod pissed me the hell off ((see section WTF, Mate? below)) and am really intrigued to see where that goes in a sequel ((because there is going to be sequel, right?)). The final boss fight was fun, but not as difficult as I imagined or heard it rumored to be (granted, I was level, what, 57 at the time, so I might have been a bit overpowered).

Flashbacks and the Future

Probably some of the most fun I had was finding and being surprised by all the flashbacks and references to previous games. Hearing Liara’s voice again made me tear up. Later in the game, when Dad’s memories revealed some discussion over Shepard and the Reapers, I was giddy with excitement (and when he talked to Garrus’s dad? *dies*). And at the very end, reading through the email terminal thanking me for saving the galaxy, I seriously freaked out at some of the people who thanked me (don’t know what I’m talking about? GO.READ.THAT.TERMINAL. You’ll thank me later). So that was a blast.

Also, anyone else notice the parallel of the Council never helping Shepard or believing her when she talked about the Reapers and then the Board of Directors not wanting to help Ryder, so she has to go rogue and find Meridian on her own with the other Pathfinders? Anyone else notice that?? Freakin’ governments.

And I’m already intrigued by the unanswered questions and the future of the franchise. Will there really be a DLC featuring the Quarians? What challenge will occur next? Will Shepard’s decision with the Reapers ever have consequences that are revealed or felt later? What about the evolution of the AI and the interaction with the Pathfinders? What consequences will follow that? (Also, really curious: did the Quarian Pathfinder also have SAM inserted??)

WTF, Mate?

So, overall, I really, really enjoyed this game. It’s BioWare and Mass Effect, after all. Kinda hard not to love. However, I had one major complaint, one thing that I truly do not understand.

Scott. My twin. In cryo. The entire game. 

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When it was first revealed that I had a brother, I was absolutely and totally stoked. Video game characters never have families–or if they do, they’ve already died by the time you play them, so you never get to interact with them. We all knew Dad wasn’t going to make it. But this time, I had a brother, a twin. Someone who I could explore Andromeda with. Someone to reminisce about our childhood together. Someone to make jokes with, someone to lean on, someone to add an entire new element to the video game world I’d never experienced before: having an actual family I could interact with in a meaningful, impactful way.

But the minute–no, the millisecond–that Scott’s cryo pod malfunctioned, I knew. I bloody knew.

I might as well have been an orphan.

I mean, seriously? What was the point of giving me a brother if he was stuck in a coma the entire time? Even at the end, when the Archon overtakes Scott and uses his implant to try and corrupt Meridian, I still was pissed. Scott should have been been with me the entire time, as a companion. He should have been there. I felt robbed of a neat and truly awesome opportunity.

Also, there is this part where the Archon traps Ryder and SAM kills her by stopping her heart to free her. I so wanted Ryder to actually die and then we as the player are switched to our twin, who has to pick up the mission from there to save the other companions trapped with our dead sibling, not to mention overthrowing the Archon and still saving the golden worlds. Now there’s a twist I wouldn’t have seen coming (and a better purpose for our comatosed twin). Granted, it is really dark, but hey, that’s how I am as a writer. Be grateful I am nowhere near involved in writing games for BioWare. I’d shatter your hearts.

Wrapping Up

So, yeah, I obviously had some opinions on this game. Andromeda was a pretty awesome experience and it was fantastic to return to the Mass Effect world on the latest gen console. I’m still a huge fan of BioWare and plan on supporting them for a very, very long time. If you haven’t checked out Andromeda yet, you probably, most definitely, should.


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