New be­gin­nings

Mass Ef­fect: Andromeda

GAX (Malaysia) - - REVIEW - By Michael Low

New world, new prob­lem

Five years ago, BioWare con­cluded the saga of Com­man­der Shep­ard with Mass ect . De­spite writ­ing them­selves into a cor­ner with the much-aligned RGB end­ings, the team be­lieves that there are still many stories left to tell in the Mass ect uni­verse, which is why Mass ect Andromeda is all about new be­gin­nings. The game be­gins in 2185 where vol­un­teers and the best and bright­est from each of the Coun­cil species em­bark on a one-way, 600-odd-year jour­ney across dark space in search of hab­it­able plan­ets to call home in a whole new gala y.

In leav­ing be­hind the Milky Way (along with its im­mi­nent Reapers in­va­sion), Andromeda be­gins with much of the tril­ogy’s bag­gage shed. As one half of the Ry­der twins, the pro­tag­o­nist of your choos­ing wakes up from cryo sleep and thrusts into the role of hu­man Path nder – a po­si­tion held by their fa­ther, Alec Ry­der – after things took an un­for­tu­nate turn in their re­con­nais­sance of abi­tat 7, which is one of seven ‘Golden Worlds’ in the eleus clus­ter that were cho­sen for their life­sus­tain­ing po­ten­tial.

As Path nder, Ry­der is tasked to look into po­ten­tial new homes for the in­hab­i­tants aboard the Ne us space sta­tion; in­ves­ti­gate the where­abouts of the Asari, Turian and Salar­ian Arks; make sense of the mys­te­ri­ous struc­tures and ar­ti­facts left by the an­cient Rem­nant; and re­solve the con ict be­tween the Kett and the An­gara.

The shift to EA’s own Frost­bite en­gine al­lows for highly-de­tailed and larger, sprawl­ing en­vi­ron­ments with a mi of hazardous cli­mate, hos­tile crea­tures, and side e cur­sions to round up the main mis­sions. aving learned their les­sons from Dragon Age n isi­tion, col­lectible re­sources are less of a chore, while ad­di­tional tasks and as­sign­ments (read: side quests) are a lit­tle more var­ied in Andromeda. The Omni-tool, for e am­ple, dou­bles as a scan­ning de­vice to aid in the Path nder’s de­tec­tive work and oraw­ildlife re­search. Scan­ning items of Milky Way, eleus, or Rem­nant ori­gin will

also earn you re­search points to un­lock blue­prints for equip­ment craft­ing and No­mad up­grades.

With that said, BioWare saw t to re­visit cer­tain el­e­ments from past in­stall­ments. Get­ting around a planet’s sur­face by foot is not al­ways a wise op­tion, which is why the si -wheeled, all-ter­rain No­mad ND1 is your best bet to min­ing valu­able min­er­als as you blast your way from point A to point B. Driv­ing con­trols are much im­proved over the Mako. The Tempest, on the other hand, is Andromeda’s an­swer to the Nor­mandy. The small, stealthy scout ship is your key to e plor­ing the sys­tems in the eleus clus­ter. There’s still a bit of planet and as­ter­oid scan­ning in­volved. Mean­while, the in­te­ri­ors are a joy to nav­i­gate, as load­ing screens be­tween oors are no longer needed.

Let’s get to­gether now

BioWare’s tried-and-true ‘Cho­sen One’ trope is em­ployed once again, but the writ­ing team has made con­certed e orts to give side char­ac­ters some sem­blance of clash­ing per­son­al­ity out­side of pan­der­ing to Ry­der’s ev­ery whim. With the Paragon/ Renegade moral­ity sys­tem out of the pic­ture, con­ver­sa­tion op­tions in Andromeda re­volve around four pos­si­ble re­sponses: Emo­tional, Log­i­cal, Ca­sual, and Pro­fes­sional. And love it or hate it, in­ter­rupt prompts re­turn to high­light conte tual mo­ments in cer­tain cutscenes. Also mak­ing a wel­comed re­turn are loy­alty mis­sions, which are es­sen­tially per­sonal er­rands given by Ry­der’s squad­mates that serve to build trust and add to the nar­ra­tive. They o er a nice di­ver­sion from the more drawn-out Pri­or­ity Ops mis­sions. In Andromeda, it’s now pos­si­ble to ini­ti­ate ro­mance with more than one char­ac­ter, but some will end up as ca­sual ings while oth­ers may turn out to be long-term re­la­tion­ships.

The voice act­ing is stan­dard fare, but the over­all writ­ing can be a lit­tle un­even at times. That in­con­sis­tency e tends to the fa­cial an­i­ma­tions, which looked canned and am­a­teur­ish ne t to

The Witcher Wild nt and the re­cent­lyre­leased ori on ero Dawn The oc­ca­sional janky an­i­ma­tions are to be e pected (as e pe­ri­enced in past BioWare ti­tles), but the dead eyes and vis­ual glitches dur­ing dra­matic cutscenes and gam­play de nitely took us out of the mo­ment. Like In­qui­si­tion, the char­ac­ter cre­ator is fairly lim­ited in op­tions, o er­ing mi­nor tweaks to nine face pre­sets for male and fe­male Ry­der, along with a se­lec­tion of scars, tat­toos, and space-chic makeup.

Mo­bil­ity in move­ment

Com­bat fares bet­ter, as it’s been re­worked in a num­ber of ways. Get­ting into cover no longer re­quires a but­ton press, while ammo and health can be re­plen­ished by walk­ing past the rel­e­vant crates. The ad­di­tion of jet­packs not only height­ens Ry­der’s jump­ing and quick-dodge abil­ity dur­ing plat­form­ing se­quences, but also adds a tac­ti­cal ad­van­tage when caught in a cross re. Ac­tive skills, how­ever, are lim­ited to three when switch­ing gear load­out.

In­stead of lock­ing the Path nder to one speci c class, Ry­der can freely switch be­tween seven pro les once enough points were dis­trib­uted among com­bat, bi­otics, and tech skills. It’s a shame that Andromeda took away the op­tion to equip your team­mates, save for their skill points. BioWare also re­moved the abil­ity to con­trol your squad’s pow­ers, though the AI team­mates do han­dle them­selves well – most of the time. That leaves Ry­der to or­der the squad to hold po­si­tion and re­group when needed.

Bar­ring its tech­ni­cal is­sues, Mass ect Andromeda is a the­mat­i­callystrong, ac­tion-driven RPG that im­proves on n isi­tion’s for­mula, but fal­ters some­what in the writ­ing depart­ment.

CON­CLU­SION There’s just enough ‘new’ to make Andromeda less of a re­tread and more of a bumpy rst ight.

These are the six squad­mates you’ll be re­cruit­ing in Andromeda.

The An­gara is one of two new alien races to be in­tro­duced in Andromeda.

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