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posted March 28, 2017 12:13 AM
|Edited by PandaTar at 16:43, 28 Mar 2017.
Mass Effect Andromeda
So, what's up?
I was wondering if someone else has already started playing this game and what are your impressions about it so far?
Long story short, 'EA'.
It seems the game was rushed into being. Playable, but not quite clicking as a worthy successor yet. And again, we start descending the wild realms of speculations and blind hope over potential.
While games such as the new Zelda and Horizon came with overwhelmingly positive reviews, ME:A came with the lowest Metacritic amidst all other titles of the franchise.
I'll try not to mention spoilers here, for those who are still interested.
I personally enjoy the game. I got used to it and most of its flaws don't bother me much; which doesn't mean that I haven't noticed them.
Visually, I think the game is beautiful, good textures, nice details, nothing really overdone. Scenery is breathtaking, as far as the realism goes. My notebook is rather good, but I couldn't play with ultra configuration, so I played a little with high configuration (some drop of fps during battles, for example) and then continued playing with medium settings (fluidly ok).
This planet has one of the best skies, and low gravity. And your crew mates will yell something whenever you head into an abyss.
Gameplay and storywise, the beginning is rather flat and soulless, and you have to breach the point when you start noticing that characters have no life when communicating with each other. Besides some cinematics, characters have absolutely no facial expressions nor corporal expressions and their conversations are awful, although their lips seem to do the job, barely. People have a deadpan stare, forever poking at their omnitools without looking at them; well, resuming, everyone have serious problems at focusing their eyes upon something, and when they do, it's completely unrelated (like darting eyes from one side or the other, as if searching for a criminal lurking at the background). I remember the producers saying there wouldn't be those usual fixed and reused animations back from the trilogy, where one would look to the side and move away, one step back and cross their arms, lurch the head this way, make hand gestures, point finger. We sure noticed those repetitive actions throughout our play back then, but it wasn't really an issue. But now we don't notice anything. Because there's nothing to notice. People talk without emotion and with their limbs glued to gravity like they're made of lead. Only after you have advanced far into the game that some small talk come with small animations, and very few I noticed were copied and pasted, although their loop was rather short (like a Krogan who looked like sniffing his own armpit every 10-12 seconds). Really, body language is important. And the fact that we spend much of our time in that game talking to people, it will bother you, specially if you have played the other games.
The Heleus Cluster in Andromeda, after you unlocked most of its star systems. They love planetary rings.
The planets you land are basically HUGE. I got the feeling I was replaying Mad Max, although our vehicle, Nomad, wouldn't damage as much as I hope for. Navigating for the first time around them is either fun and dull, actually. You'll find so many tasks and missions everywhere you go, you are not really sure if you want to miss exploring places. Thankfully, there's a fast-travel system after you have explored some areas, so you won't have to go back again. Your Nomad has many skins as you continue playing, so you don't get bored with its default light-gray tinge. Graphics are very nice, you can see things at distance, things you'll reach, although I'm sure it's not as large as Zelda world. ME:A is not an open world thing, like Star Citizen is planning to be, but the several planets you go around will make you busy for dozens of hours, if you are throughout. Your mission is basically make these planets habitable, and as you keep doing missions, you'll notice some changes here and there, helping you colonize.
Battles are much more action-oriented now. You'll run around, dash, jet-pack, charge, explode, die. The battle has potential, but AI is lacking, either enemies or allies. I'm playing at Normal, at first, and I might have died around 5-6 times. My team mates might have died 2-3 at most. It looks like they are invincible, sometimes, or they just dodge too much without meaning too, while I kill, I really don't know. To be frank, I almost have no idea of what they do during the battle, because they teleport to me, from time to time (probably a bug), often making me confused if they're enemies. The enemy detection mechanism is different from before: you had a map and you could perceive enemies around you. But now you have a ruler on the top of the screen that shows enemies on your field of vision, which means you have to keep turning around to find them, making the battle become a raging blur, depending on the situation. Dashing to dodge makes the battle fast-paced, and you can jump and get basically everywhere you want to, including the depths of an abyss.
You get to fight some big guys too, in a more direct way than trying to get a Reaper.
Avoid dying or falling. Some creepy crap happens sometimes, bugs and things of the sort, like missions becoming untriggeable, for instance.
Speaking of missions, the sheer number of them is overwhelming. I think there might be around 200, between main missions, side-quests, planet-tied, global-tied and small tasks. And navigating between them requires some getting used to, because they sort of override each other when you are exploring, popping on the corner of your screen when triggered, so you must keep checking the map for where they are and marking the one you want to finish, so it'll show on the map properly. Many tasks don't show on the map, so you have to explore, and these are the annoying and probably most hard to finish; they also can get repetitive at how they work. For example, you find an enemy camp, kill them, then there's a datapad there. SAM will say that he needs 3 datapads to trace a Navpoint for the closure of that mission. Then you bump at another camp, on the same planet or another planet, and you find a body. Then SAM says he needs scanning 3 bodies to trace a Navpoint to continue the mission. Number 3 is magical for SAM, and it'll become really common having these things to do everywhere you go. So they swell for the amount of time you spend going about. You are also Jesus, because everything everywhere and everyone will ask for your help. "My lost brother", find the guy. "I need a sample of a fruit", go fetch it. "People are dying", find out why. "He farted too loudly", go slap him. You can deny your services, of course, but it beats me that I'm the super nice guy and I end up with a list of chores beyond reckoning.
Navigation around the map requires some practice. Sometimes you just wander over your mission, but you seem not quite at the right place, and the ruler identifying the direction you must take is not really going to help you that much until you comprehend it. I don't know if they're bugs to be fixed yet. You must also pay attention to underground locations, so you are on the right place, but on the surface. Sometimes it's very difficult climbing there until you realized you must go underground, then you have to find the entrance. You'll have to explore. As a pathfinder, that's rather obvious.
Menus are ... strange. It got me almost 30 hours in game to understand effectively how to paint my casual attire and my armor, because mouse interaction is just so bad. It's another thing you must get used to. There's too many confirmations all the time and the time your spend with that is rather alarming. Speaking of time spent with animations .......................................
Really, they MUST do something about it as they fix this game. You spend around 15-18 seconds to see a completely useless animation when you are traveling around the cluster, to whatever location you want to go. (This video shows a speed up version of the map navigation and you'll notice it's too time consuming). It is a beautiful thing, zooming in and out of the planet, getting some info, scanning for materials (... not that fun here, but each with each own's judgement), HOWEVER, it's not really useful. Making a quick calculation based on what I already had to travel around, we spend more than 1h30 of game ONLY with those animations. It's goddamn awfully a lot of time. More time still when you dock or departure stations or outposts. Animations also consume your time when you are talking to your crew inside the Tempest, very akin to ME 1, when it showed your character approaching, the crew mate looking around and turning to face, and ONLY then, they start talking. At least, these animations can be skipped. You also lose time going up and down stairs within the Tempest. Otherwise, the ship is kinda gorgeous inside, much bigger than the Normandy and no elevators. So, something they ought to fix in this game or the next one is make players spend less time with non-essential animations.
Scanning things is a very central role, as it is exploration. Many things you must do is by scanning this and that. Sometimes it's fun, sometimes it's boring. You have to scan some tech to receive tech-points to spend with blueprints and item making. It is sort of cool, if you are into these things. I personally spent not too much time with blueprints after I found some specific equipment.
As you explore, you find a great array of things, resources, materials, scraps, rare materials, savage and loot. You use these things to create your items, upgrade your Nomad and some few additional tasks here and there. As you gather Tech-points to make blueprints, you use resources to create items based on the blueprints you have. Most of the blueprints you gain access as the game evolves, but unique stuff you have to research yourself. I feel kinda there's something missing there, like some very unique and peculiar things to research. I'm not sure if they exist or if they'll ever be implemented.
Characters are reasonably ok. They have a dull start and I really abhor Liam's way to speak. Sometimes I don't get what he is trying to say, even reading subtitles. I only started to sympathize with him after his Loyalty Mission, and then I forgot completely he existed. That might be the problem with battles and AI, because it didn't seem like it made much difference who I got with me into battle. Cora is sort of annoying too in the beginning, but she sort of evolves much more fluidly later on, and you can bang her. Drake, the Krogan, is the usual Krogan. Tough lines, some humor. Reminds a bit of Wrex. Peebe, the asari, is electric, speaks a lot. Many interesting conversations gravitate around her when they're wandering within the Nomad. You can bang her too. She's a volatile character. I still don't fancy her much. There Vetra, the turian, whom I chose as my pair this time, because she is a very protective and skilled sort of character. Hard not to like in her way. And there's the most interesting character, Jaal, the angaran. He is very emotive and has a unique fashion of talking. He reminds a bit of Treebeard, breathing deeply mid-sentence, and he has some funny dialogs due his overly emotional honesty. Although my choices with some missions made him avoid speaking with me for almost half the game. SAM is an AI, because EDI requires a legacy somehow. He helps you find things when you fail noticing them. You have a salarian pilot, so-so character, just like your gay male engineer. Not as fun as Kenneth and Gabi. There this ... this ... Suvi gal acting somewhere around co-pilot and religious scientist. Worst of all voice-acting. It seems she's always whispering forcefully, with a sort of unidentified accent, no emotion, well, just awful. I'm sure few people talk in real life like that, and I have no idea why the heck they thought it was a good idea allowing that thing in the game: "Sounds guhds". Lexi is your asari doctor, sort of psychologist too, uptight, as they say. Their conversation is bad overall. You get to the end of the game and they still have dialog boxes talking about why they are there, who they are. What the hell. Sometimes you do some really impressive missions, not tied to the main storytelling, and they simply don't comment. The game starts feeling somehow dead when you try talking to your crew later on. They just pointed the necessity to make the crew wander around the ship, but their conversation keeps the same. There's some weird logic there. Sometimes their gibberish queue, so you must talk to them many times until the queue of dialog ends, making timing off, like commenting something that happened like ages ago. It can make some weird things happen, like teleporting you both across the ship because some unique interaction needs doing, and the important talks always happen in their native quarters.
The main villain is sort of fluffy. Seriously, when I first saw him in action, he seemed innocent. I'm not sure if that was a problem with their facial expressions, but the vibe of innocence, sort of fitting, gave him a mystique for an unknown enemy very convincing. Later on, when you face him a couple of times, he's ever almost, expressionless, as if bored, but he still shows more expression than everyone else in the game nonetheless. His eyes movement are at least better designed. It doesn't look like he's having a fit. There's a handful of smaller potential villains, which I'd wager they'd carry over to the next game, if any. Somehow I ended up killing almost all of them.
Other characters are so-so too, some you grow hating, others you rather grow fond of. Haven't seen any really groundbreaking conversation and the story is a bit cliche. You can compare with the trilogy somehow. It has similarities around it, BUT it leaves ground for a greater plot, for the next games, there's potential there.
There's a fair amount of bugs and visual glitches, necks torn, character sliding sideways, enemies inside walls, but shooting you regardless, missions that don't trigger, doors that won't open, NPCs that won't talk even having interactive button upon them. I think the sheer number of missions is something they'll have to revise to correct most of these bugs.
You may see HERE a small recollection of funny glitches and crap like that you'll eventually find in the game as it is now.
Conversations and choices are varied, but it's subtle your understanding on how these different choices really reflect on the game. You start noticing that when you have 4 different options of answers (all of them will say the same thing in a different manner), it'll have some impact, also if you have 2 options (between agree and don't agree) too. And there's the flirting dialog. All the rest seems trivial. Some key-factors of choosing what will happen, I still need to replay the game to see how they really impact the game. Timed actions are really sparse. I was expecting more of them. However, it feels like the meaningful choices have greater and more varied impact than those of the previous games. If they prove that right and do it right, the game, again, will have great potential for replayability and variety.
If you got the time, the game is fun if you survive these issues, because there are many. But the potential is always there. If they start fixing stuff, it might recover a bit.
Well, I should go.
This review is somewhat akin to what I think.
Finished the game yesterday. It has a nice ending, packed with action, suspense. The villain, against all odds, is the one with the best facial expressions in the whole game. The exchanges of conversation between him and Ryder had care with their facial motion, for drama. Story-wise it gets more interesting as the events unfolds to more unknown elements of galactic proportions (notice that in this first game, you wander around a cluster of stars in Andromeda, called Heleus Cluster. The rest of the Galaxy is still unknown), although they are present from the start: kett enemies, remnant ruins and the Scourge. There are some chunks of humor here and there, felt like the game started to really get into the right tracks by then.
The ending, and recalling all 'important' choices made in the game, already makes one imagine the sort of potential reserved for another game(s) and the implications in the event we chose other options. There's a great deal of impacting decisions, I'd wager, seemingly perhaps stronger than those of the trilogy.
As a comparison, in the trilogy, many of your choices could make you lose your characters along the way mostly, but they would be substituted by less impacting (and non loyal) subjects. For example, if you chose to let the Council die, another council appeared, with some different conversations, but, all in all, basically not really impacting.
In Andromeda, small spoiler here, there's a time you decide whether the krogan will be part of your initiative or not. The implications for such decision makes that you'll have krogans probably as enemies, and that seems to impact an upcoming game in a very meaningful way, considering your team, the Nexus and one of the planets. As I chose having them as allies, I don't know how it goes if you don't. I have the feeling that I got the best ending in this playthrough, given that I played with my usual nice-diplomatic-but-kill-potential-danger posture.
Heroes-based proposal thread – On hold, while I'm writing my book. =)