Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mass Effect: Andromeda – final verdict

Okay, so this is a follow-up from my review for Mass Effect: Andromeda that I wrote here when I had a fit of pique about aspects of the game that annoyed the ever-living crap out of me.

I haven't really changed my opinion of the game, though granted my first play-through was for the story rather than gameplay. If you're looking for the impact that BioWare stories have that every raves about the earlier games, you're not going to feel it here. I ran with the Jaal romance on this play-through and though there'd been much anticipation about this before the game's release, I was underwhelmed to say the least. And I'm not sufficiently invested in the game to immediately play it afresh but with different romance options like I was with Dragon Age: Inquisition. That says something.

As friends of mine noted, the primary quest for ME:A doesn't take all that long, and it was mostly go to this location, take out a few consoles here, free these peeps, kill that dude, and then GTFO. I think because I was playing the game on casual setting, I missed out on pushing the combat system to its full capabilities, and should I have the time and motivation in the future, I'll most certainly take longer and focus on combat, crafting and technique, and play the game on a harder level ... and take my sweet time with it. Which means I'll probably not play through the entire game again by the time I get bored. Because, let's face it, there's a kind of monotony to every quest in ME:A. I heard folks bitching that Dragon Age: Inquisition was already bloated with fetch quests, but oddly enough they didn't bother me as much as they did in ME:A.

There was a huge lot of frothing about bugs and glitches about the game, and unfortunately my play-through had its fair share. Perhaps the most annoying was the times when saved games bombed the game upon a return between gaming sessions, and if it weren't for the earlier autosaves, I'd have lost entire chunks of gameplay. And yes, there was that bloody annoying permabroke issue with the Nomad. Okay, it's not totally a permabroke thing but for the love of fuck, get all your forwarding stations set up before you spend more time on Elaaden. Don't be like Nerine who needed that forwarding station and ended up trashing three hours of game play because there was no way for her to fix her fucking Nomad. Yes, that made me boiling mad.

What did I enjoy? Okay, once I got used to driving the Nomad vehicle, it was loads of fun. And I really, really enjoyed my Remnant-tech sniper rifle. In fact, should I decide to play this game again, I'm going to focus on building up Rem-tech research points and spend time crafting a sick armour and weapons set-up. There was something seriously satisfying in being out of visible distance and taking out all my enemies before they saw me. [Says she who'll most likely either play mage or archer in RPGs]

What's nice also is that you're not locked down to a character concept. Although I started out as a biotic but then upskilled with more sniping skills. My secondary weapon ended up being an Asari sword. My tactic ended up being sniping as many kills from a safe distance, then going in blasting with biotics and my sword, so that I ended up almost like some crazy-ass Jedi. That was loads of fun.

Team members I opted for eventually were Cora, because of her sick shield boosting, and Jaal because he ended up being real bad-ass back-up for my sniper Ryder. Vetra wasn't bad either, and Drack was perfect for when I needed a serious tank.

The lack of any real consequences to choices was the main issue for me with the story. What Dragon Age got *so* right was the emotional wringer they put me through. When I finished Trespasser I moped for weeks after, cursing a certain bald apostate hobo elf roundly. (I honestly felt as if I'd just been dumped.) And there was That Thing with A Certain Party Member that was a real consequence of action taken during the main game that hit me in the feels so hard I felt really, really horrid.

The only thing that made me feel horrid in ME:A was a decision I made that impacted Drack. Yet even that wasn't as heavy as Varric asking me "Where is Hawke?" during one of my DA:I play-throughs. (And the reason why I never ever leave Hawke in the Fade ever again because fuck I love Varric so much and I don't ever, ever want to do anything to make him cry.)

Can you see what the issue is here? There is none of that passionate "oh my god I love these characters so much I'magonna puke" I get with Dragon Age. I was fond of Drack. Jaal's voice reduced me to a slight quivering in my ladybits, and Cora was like a reboot of Cassandra, which is why I took her with me. Everywhere.

Yes, the terrains are lovely, but the wildlife, such as it was, was much of a muchness. The same fucking little bird critters flying around Elaaden are right there in Havarl. It's like BioWare didn't take much time to create enough variance in the eco-systems to give each planet enough of a stamp of individuality. Yes, they're still fun to roar through, and the fact that the environments start out toxic, makes some of the travel quite challenging, but it all started to feel the same but slightly different flavour. Oh, this planet is freezing, this one's radioactive, this one's got poisonous water...

The theme of a twin Ryder was kinda neat, but I feel from a story-telling side they could have done more with it. Though things did go pretty dire for my Scott Ryder, I never really felt that he was in any true danger, and was a bit disappointed that he couldn't play a more active role in the story. His involvement halfway through felt more like an afterthought than anything else.

Anyhoo, I didn't totally hate ME:A, and it's really not a bad game (and the environments are lush). The multiplayer was pretty fun too, but I am honestly not invested enough in the game to spend any more time on it than I already have. It has replay value but its repetitive nature and fetch quests can become stale quickly.

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