Posted on Mar 20th 2018 at 08:00:00 AM by (GrayGhost81)
Posted under mass effect, reviews

I hate seeing a major title misfire right out of the gates. Sure, there is some serious opportunity for schadenfreude, especially when the game in question is released by a cynical, consumer-hostile publisher like EA. When Mass Effect: Andromeda was announced, I was very excited for it. Although I believe the series declined from its initial entry, I was excited to see how Bioware and EA would create a new story within the Mass Effect framework.

Of course, when the game was released, all hell broke loose. The facial animations of the characters in the game were
criticized at launch by numerous outlets for being inadequate by any standards, let alone those of a Mass Effect game. My YouTube feed at the time was filled with compilations of "funny" facial animation failures and oddities from the game. From my perspective, it really wasn't looking good for the literal face of the game to be so poorly received. Little did I know, the facial animation controversy was obscuring a great game, and a worthy addition to the Mass Effect franchise.

Some time after the release of the game, a significant price drop, and many patches being made to the game, I decided to pick up a copy for the Playstation 4. I played it recently with the actual intent of getting it out of my collection (sometimes I'm more likely to play a game I think is going to be bad so I can "see for myself" and then get rid of it). After playing the game, I will likely hold onto it, and more importantly, I will try even harder on a personal level to not get caught up in overly positive or negative mainstream gaming media hype.   

I'll get this out of the way, in the state I played the game in (in March 2018), the presentation of the game, including facial animations, is fine. I chose, as I always do, a custom female player character, and overall I was happy with how she looked and was portrayed within the game and its cutscenes. Same goes for the NPCs. The game is a little rough around the edges for sure, but what Western open-world RPG isn't?

The game's combat may actually be the best in the series so far. The player has boost and dash rockets as well as the ability to temporarily hover in a boost, all of which gives combat and incredible sense of dynamic movement. This is no longer a pop and stop situation where you would likely spend most of your time shooting from behind cover. I was always zipping around the battlefield and taking cover strategically when necessary.

I also thought the weapon and armor customization was very well done. I won't go deep into the details of the game's economies here, but they are similar to the past games in the series, with emphasis on resource management as well as research, crafting, and development.

The only real drawback of this game, when compared to its predecessors, is that Ryder (the main character, who can be male or female) and the rest of the characters really cannot measure up to the standards set by Shepard and his or her crew as far as depth and the desire to learn more about them. This is by no means a deal breaker and does not in any way soften my recommendation. In fact, by the end of the game I was quite attached to my rendition of Sara Ryder. However, the entire game from a story standpoint has the feeling of a straight to video sequel to a major movie franchise.

I truly enjoyed this game, and I was left with a sense that I need to do better at simply not paying attention to the mainstream gaming press. This is not an independent event in forming that opinion. The high praise received by Wolfenstein II and Uncharted 4, two games that I considered mediocre at best, has led me to believe that either my personal tastes are out of step with the mainstream, or that, more importantly, there is an increasing homogeneity in game design. If this is true, then it creates an environment in which mediocrity rises to the top and truly great and iterative games like Mass Effect: Andromeda will be blasted for technical infractions, to the point where the future of the entire franchise is put in doubt. 

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Loved the game, shame the "fans" pretty much killed any chance for the teased DLC. -_-
The fact that they eventually fixed it doesn't change that ME:A shipped broken. Beyond janky facial animations, there were numerous game breaking bugs, quest breaking scripting errors, and some legitimate criticisms of the writing as compared to previous entries.  The lesson doesn't seem to be that well done mediocrity gathers acclaim it doesn't deserve, but that companies should be less willing to foist broken products on consumers.
@Ikariniku: I actually agree with you completely regarding the unacceptable launch, and playing this game and doing this write-up put me in the uncomfortable position of defending the game in any state.

I would encourage anyone interested to seek further reading on the development of this game.
Jason Schreier's piece is quite illuminating. 

I know it can be difficult to not be on the cutting edge sometimes, but for me, I was willing to "wait and see" if this game got fixed up or not. It did, and by that the time the price had plunged by more than two thirds. A win-win, but in no way, shape, or form an ideal situation. Publishers need to do much better.
I had this game at launch, and while it wasn't great, I felt ok dedicating the time to play through it once. There were some serious glitches, and on the first planet the game glitched and apparently let me go to places I was not meant to go yet, which really broke some quests later on.

No clue why they decided to bring the driving back after how much it was maligned in ME1. I really didn't care for it this time around either. The best thing about it was the conversations your characters would have while in it.

Overall, I don't regret the game, but I won't go back to it either. For the price at this time, I'd say give it a go, but it really wasn't ready at launch.
Great post buddy. I still haven't even played 3 yet so it'll be a while for this one.
@GrayGhost81: I think defending the game as it exists now is good.  It's becoming ever more important as games continue to evolve post-release.  However, the good game that exists now does not erase the broken game that EA sold to consumers.  Whether that game was enjoyable or not is up to the player, but it was unquestionably broken.  That broken product destroyed a beloved modern franchise.

This is not a failing of the video game press or of "mediocre" titles that shipped whole and functioning.  On a consumer level, people needed to know that the game was only half baked.  One should always think for themselves when making purchases or trying new games, but the press, I feel, did its duty in reporting on ME:A's disastrous launch state.
This is one of those game series that I've always wanted to get into, but never had the time (still don't, for that matter), and to be frank the drama surrounding part 3 (and the backpedaling of the dev) kind of turned me off.  Still, I have a friend who speaks pretty highly of Andromeda, so I'll get in at some point.  The game is on sale for $10 on Origin, for what it is worth.

Still, this is the main reason I don't buy games anymore when they are first released (at least multiplatform ones).  Part of that is due to my platform of choice (which generally gets relegated to fifth wheel with ports; Hello, Just Cause 3), but also due to practicality.  I've had a few people criticize me about my buying habits, and about how we should support developers by getting games at or near launch, but I don't see why we should have to support laziness and sloppiness in the hopes that the devs will get the time/money/permission from the publishers to fix the issues.

@Ikariniku:  I think the gaming press as a whole is kind of a mess when it comes to reliability, but there are a number of people out there that can be counted on for their honesty and aren't afraid to lose ad revenue and/or early copies of games over them (whether or not we agree with their tastes).
I'm currently about half way through it and Tbh it's not a bad game. Yeah it may have shipped with faults which it shouldn't have done but they were fixed.
While it's not as good as the previous games and there is too much empty space driving overall it's OK.
@bombatomba: The gaming press is a mess, because it has exploded in size and the business model has radically changed.  That's why it's more important than ever to think critically about the critics before deciding who to listen to.
@Ikariniku: Your comments on this post are some of the best constructive criticism I have ever received on my writing. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. I think I really muddied the message here, because your comments are saying what I was trying to say better than I did in the article.

To everyone, I really appreciate the traction generated by this post. It demonstrates the strange zeitgeist in which we find ourselves regarding gaming media and publishers' ethical responsibilities. I definitely put more stock in the community here and on YouTube than I do the bigger players.

I'll revisit this topic in the future with more concise arguments.
@GrayGhost81: Thank you.  I went to school for it.  Seriously.  This is what a dedicated Communications major is good for these days.  The points you raise are valid.  That is why I engaged with them.  I come to RF Generation to do just that, to be a part of a community where such exchanges are possible.

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