Mass Effect: Andromeda is finally here after a very long wait. As big fans of the franchise, we couldn’t wait to get our jetpacks primed and Nomad into gear.
Platforms: PS4 | PC | Xbox One
Reviewed On: PS4 Pro
Publisher: Square Enix
Distributor: EA Games
Release Date: 24 March 2017
Price: R1 149
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Setting Off Into Space
Andromeda’s story has an epic science fiction space opera feel to it that will make regular science fiction fans very happy. The quest for a new world saga with a multi-species crew is not new, however, bringing this to life in such a visually impressive world really does add a sense of scale and importance to the journey.
Andromeda can be a little overwhelming at first with little explanation for some aspects of the game. Most of this comes down to the rather complicated menu system that has layers of data making things tricky to find the first time. The navigational experience wasn’t great and we often got lost trying to find seemingly straight forward locations, but again this grows on you as you start to gather more playtime under your belt. It’s important to note that Andromeda has a lengthy beginning – expect to put in around 5 hours before the world really starts opening up. If you were to judge the game on just these first few hours you may very well get the wrong impression. Stick with it though, as Andromeda comes into its own as you venture out into the wider Helios system.
The first thing you start to notice as the story unfolds, is the massive scale of Andromeda. If complex back stories, characters, and conversations are your thing, be prepared to spend countless hours interacting with the rich tapestry woven by Bioware. It’s great that this developer hallmark is still intact. If you are willing to invest the time, Mass Effect: Andromeda will reward you with a space frigate full of content.
Mass Effect: Andromeda’s presentation is impressive providing beautiful visuals of the varying alien landscapes. While not quite as technically impressive as Horizon: Zero Dawn, it makes good use of the PS4 Pro to deliver great sharpness and textures. The audio is particularly great especially when finding yourself deep in the bowls of an alien structure surrounded by strange technology and plant life.
Combat feels great for biotic-powered characters, with the simplified controls making it easy to make use of your 3 powers, although limiting as you can’t switch on the fly as you could with previous Mass Effect games. This extends to your weapon loadout, as you need to setup before you head out into a mission or change at specific forward stations. This does make you consider your choices more carefully before stepping out, but limits your ability to adapt on the fly. To balance this, Mass Effect: Andromeda features “Profiles” which allow you to focus your skills into a particular area regardless of which character class you setup. So if you find yourself in a combat focused scenario you can bump up you combat skills for that particular engagement.
The gunplay felt a little flat in the beginning but as you start to unlock new weapons through research points – gained by scanning interesting technology on your travels – you get to experience a wide range of different style guns that all have unique handling and firing mechanics. There is something spectacular about jetpacking into a group of enemies and using a biotic push to take out opponents before opening up with your shotgun.
The story is a good one. You take on the role of Pathfinder Ryder who is tasked with finding a new home for Humankind. Most of your time is spent searching for habitable planets, clashing with militaristic aliens, befriending other species and exploring this vast new galaxy. Throughout the game you get to interact with a great cast of characters from all different races that are voiced and crafted really well. As the story unfolds, Andromeda manages to keep you hooked and by the end answers enough of the questions it raises to leave you feeling satisfied.
There is no doubt that Mass Effect: Andromeda is a massive game that requires a considerable investment of time. If you are looking for a quick fix game then this one isn’t for you. However, if you are willing to commit, love science fiction or are a fan of the previous Mass Effect games then you will love Andromeda. The game builds on the experience of previous titles adding an increased level of beauty and scale but doesn’t really add a huge amount of innovation to win over brand-new entrants to this genre of gaming. So while it’s not necessarily game of the year material, if you are looking for an immersive space opera for the current generation of hardware then Mass Effect: Andromeda delivers.