Mass Effect Andromeda: 15 Hour Impression

By Derrick Jean-Baptiste

Mass Effect Andromeda is a game that I find hard to classify. I'll fully admit that I have a love-hate relationship with Bioware. I love the character customization, grand stories, companions, and, of course, romance options. These are all things that Bioware has made their name in since it's inception.

Introducing, Avery Ryder!

Introducing, Avery Ryder!

Despite hitting my niche, I fundamentally hate certain things that Bioware does. Things such as lazy story development, overuse of the dialogue wheels, and finally, Bioware's obnoxious attempt at open world gameplay.  All things I deplore in games that Bioware's most recent games are very guilty of.

But just like Sisyphus, I am forever pushing that boulder up the hill. I am truly stuck on Bioware's wild ride.

This game is beautiful at certain points.

This game is beautiful at certain points.

Before I get started on my impression of the first fifteen hours of the game, take notice I didn't say anything about Bioware's graphics/animations as a thing that I hate. My enjoyment of a game is not controlled by whether or not the game looks pretty. Don't get me wrong though I think visuals are a critical part of the overall aesthetics of a game. You simply can't escape that.

However, that doesn't mean that everybody should make photo-realistic graphics. Some games' overall aesthetics are suited by different visual themes, some of which might be effective, "low quality" compared to others.

Now that all of that is out of the way I can finally showcase my thoughts on Mass Effect Andromeda's first 15 hours.

So, while I prefaced everything by saying graphics don't matter to me. I really do want to talk about the animation.

More often than not my Ryder looks like this.

More often than not my Ryder looks like this.

I have to admit, It's bad. Not just "these could be better, oh well" bad, but game breaking bad. Is that an exaggeration? No, I don't think so and here's why: Mass Effect has been a game about story more than anything else. If you can't take this game seriously, if you can't get engaged in the cut-scenes because the animations are ridiculous, you can't get effectively attached or immersed in the story.

HER FACE! WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE THAT!

HER FACE! WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE THAT!

Take this picture as an example. This is uncanny valley stuff: the robotic facial movements, the dead plastic eyes. And this isn't limited to a few instances; it's in almost every interaction in the game. Even your own character is atrocious. I'm not saying that the previous Mass Effect games were flawless or even great examples of animation (trust me, they are not), but they weren't so bad that it kept you from taking the game seriously.

The failure in animations isn't isolated to one particular design area, either. The more general animations, like movement, are also awful. These are not blips, these were standard throughout the time I've played the game.

The voice acting in this game ranges from passable to just plain awful. There are moments where it should be a heavy/emotional conversation, and the voice acting doesn't match the tonality of the subject. Furthermore, the flow in conversations feels very odd, jarring even. Given the poor writing, the poor voice acting just amplifies the flaws all around.

Moving on from the animation to story, the game annoyingly smashes you over the head with the fact that you're the chosen one, the "Pathfinder" in such a way that you're tired of being reminded of it. Over the course of my time in the game, I just wished people would call me Ryder rather than this blank slate title known as Pathfinder. All in all, this game is committing the crime of telling you rather than showing you.  

For a game series that typically focused on story, this particular aspect of the story is surprisingly disappointing. Slow starts are one thing, but the start of this game's story doesn't even give you a chance to get engaged with supposedly key characters.

Peebee has some of the best animation in game.

Peebee has some of the best animation in game.

On top of this, the writing in general is just poor. Even for the main story, the lines are disappointing and, in some cases, even cringy. It often feels like a robot studying human interaction is trying to simulate how conversations should work.

THEY LOOK LIKE KELOID SCARS!

THEY LOOK LIKE KELOID SCARS!

In addition to this, the "bad guys" of the game, the Kett, just look ridiculous. They look like goofy rock monsters. I ultimately find their design really boring and lackluster. We are in a whole new galaxy, and we get aliens that are super humanoid and uninspiring. I feel like we're just getting a re-branded story, cliché bad guys, and not something original and distinct that could capture imaginations.

Hopefully the game gets better. It was one of my most anticipated releases of 2017 and as of now I leave this article with just general disappointment.