Defending Mass Effect

So . . . I loved Mass Effect: Andromeda!


Yes, I am a hardcore fan of the Mass Effect trilogy. Yes, I played them to the end three times. No, I didn’t hate the ending enough to let it ruin the rest of the games.


So, what? I’m reviewing video games now? No, I’m not, but this is a series I love dearly, and I’m sick and tired of seeing the one-sided arguments laid out against it. This isn’t a review of Andromeda, but a quick argument that it was a decent game. At the very least. it didn’t deserve to end up on so many worst games of 2017 lists. I’ll briefly touch upon the hate 3 got before moving on to Andromeda. If I vanish suddenly and without a trace, a crazy Mass Effect Zealot did it! Also: If the statement above render my opinion useless to you, you’re a giant tool, but I understand. (I really don’t, but whatever.)


The unending waves of hate:

Wubba lubba dub dub! I saw this video, and was immediately reminded of my own experiences with the Mass Effect series. I’ve had people come up to me in the streets because of my . . . fashion choice. I bought the jacket you see in the picture below because:
A) I love me some Mass Effect.
B) I was doing a new playthrough of the entire trilogy (femshep represent!) and couldn’t for the life of me get over how awesome these games are.
C) And this is the most important bit: The black and red design and the N7 logo are among the coolest looking uniform/armor/costume things I have ever seen. I probably would’ve bought an N7 item without even knowing about Mass Effect if I saw it at the store.


But I digress: What I’m trying to say is that the hate is completely off the charts on this one. I’m fine being greeted with ‘Commander,’ or ‘Shepard,’ (who on earth wouldn’t be?) when I pass someone on the street. But when I’m stopped and almost asked to explain myself, or asked whether I bought the jacket before or after playing Mass Effect 3, that’s bordering on harassment. I don’t want to have a discussion, drunken or sober, with someone screaming in my face about crayons and kindergartners, color choice and what huge pieces of shit the people at Bioware are. (This happened, by the way, step by step.)

‘This is my favorite jacket on the citadel.’


Naturally, a lot of this hate carried over to Andromeda.


Sidebar: Yes! The game had its flaws, as do many games! Maybe I was extremely lucky, but the game actually looked decent from the very beginning on my PS4. Also, it was mostly the animations that were crap or lackluster, right? The rest of the game looks like any other game. (Most notably DragonAge: Inquisition, which shouldn’t be a huge surprise.) Also, have you seen some of the glitches from the trilogy? It’s not like those games were flawless either.


If you want to judge the game on its own merits, that’s fine by me. It holds 70+ on Metacritic, but has of course been review bombed by users. I know arguing my points like this is completely useless, and it’s too late to sway anyone now anyway, but I’ve been playing this game a lot lately because I finally had the time, and I’m having a blast! Whenever I tell people this, their immediate response is ‘Really?!‘ Because the hate and negative backlash has become so ingrained, most gamers I know just dismiss the game as god awful without ever playing it. Hate things all you want, but these kinds of trends spell trouble for the industry, as well as the gamers. (There’s a similar discussion going on right now concerning Metacritic/Rotten Tomatoes and the aggregate score debacle – it’s worth a quick Google.) That’s why I’m going to jot down what I always tell my friends when they ask me how in the hell I can enjoy Mass Effect: Andromeda. Then I’ll leave it alone forever, I promise!


1) I feel like an explorer again!
Like in Mass Effect 1, you have a six-wheeled car you can trudge around in, only this time the landscapes are huge and varied. They’re also filled with a lot more than just three points of interest, and it’s mostly up to you how much you look around. Exploring Eos, the first planet you go to, trying to make sense of things was a hoot and a half. The same goes for Voeld, with its icy wastes causing you to scurry for areas with heaters/safe zones. There are also a million smaller collect-a-thons for the OCD gamer (I’m mostly cured after the hordes of open world games implementing this, thankfully).


2) It’s so incredibly streamlined!
I actually want to compare it to Final Fantasy 15 a little. Both of these games have incredible interfaces, which are easy to use and understand. There’s just something about the way the game looks that makes me want to play it; from the menu design to the overall graphics. The loadout screen and the various stations on the Tempest feels futuristic and cool as well. The facial animations may be sub-par, but the rest of the design is really on point. It’s also got that juicy Mass Effect-y skybox and horizon. (The research and development stuff is complete malarkey, though.)


3) The combat is fun and fluid!
The jetpack is a fun addition to the fray, giving the combat a more hectic run-and-gun feel. Yes, the roleplaying elements are downplayed, but that’s the case with most games these days. I thought it was exhilarating mixing and matching powers, then blasting away with whatever I had hotkeyed. Sure, it gets a little repetitive after a while, and the Kett are as boring as can be, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.


4) The soundtrack is brilliant!
Like the games that came before it, Mass Effect: Andromeda has a brilliant soundtrack. From the ambient music when exploring, to the sci-fi beats during combat, to the orchestral soars during the cutscenes. And I’m constantly humming the main theme to myself, often thinking it’s from some epic sci-fi phenomenon of yore before suddenly realizing it’s from this game.


5) The characters are great!
Once again, i feel the need to compare this game to Final Fantasy 15. That game is almost 100 hours long – I spent 130, and didn’t even like the game all that much . . . (I might not be cured after all) –  and still the banter between the four main dudes is limited to five sentences repeated over and over and over and over and over and over. In Andromeda, the two people in your party banter relentlessly, talking about everything and anything. There is a ton of exposition relayed passively through this dialogue, and it never feels forced or repetitive.
That’s it for me. Like I said earlier this wasn’t meant to be a review, just a quick list of things I liked. I probably won’t change anybody’s mind, and the hammer seems to have dropped on this series already. There are more nuanced reviews out there, both positive and negative, I just wanted to stick my neck out ever so slightly for this underrated, mistreated and condemned game. Also, while I could write 17 blog posts on why Final Fantasy 15 was a much bigger piece of shit, I think I’ll refrain from any more game talk.


Robert ‘Commander’ Bishop
(Give Andromeda a try if you haven’t already.)


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