M ass Ef­fect : And romeda

GET­TING TO GRIPS WITH BIOWARE’S RAD­I­CAL RPG IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR (FAR) AWAY

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Pub­lisher EA Devel­oper BIOWARE

WWe’re deep in the An­dromeda galaxy, get­ting a chance to sam­ple the re­turn­ing mul­ti­player mode for BioWare’s in­com­ing epic se­quel. Un­for­tu­nately, it’s not go­ing well in the slight­est. Stuck crouch­ing down be­hind cover as a wave of alien nas­ties come charg­ing at us, there’s no time to ad­mire the view of this op­pres­sive space fac­tory. You see, our foes are as smart as they are ag­gres­sive and it’ll take some new toys to even these odds.

For­tu­nately, our new space suit is par­tic­u­larly handy for get­ting out of trou­ble, as the jet­pack that’s built into the back al­lows for eye-wa­ter­ingly quick move­ment. We dash out of cover, leap up high and then squeeze the Left Trig­ger mid-air. This lets us hover off the ground for a few glo­ri­ous sec­onds, which is just enough time to pump the on­rush­ing horde full of in­ter­ga­lac­tic lead. Now that’s what we call a close en­counter.

Although BioWare’s changes to its leg­endary se­ries sound pretty com­pre­hen­sive, it’s sur­pris­ing how smoothly they fit. This is still Mass Ef­fect, but a leaner and meaner ver­sion. By im­prov­ing our op­tions for move­ment, the com­bat gives us a thrilling rush from tak­ing the fight to these ag­gres­sors rather than let­ting them come to­wards us.

This chance to sam­ple the re­turn­ing mul­ti­player mode also al­lows us to test out some of the games’ new pow­ers. We’re the cau­tious type, so we plump for one that al­lows us to spawn a handy bar­rier in front of us. Now we can at least stem some of the flow from one side, with our team­mates pro­tect­ing the flank. Con­sid­er­ing how fast com­bat can be – pun­ish­ment for mis­takes is mer­ci­lessly swift – how you utilise these pow­ers pro­vides a more dy­namic tac­ti­cal edge. While the mul­ti­player will be much quicker and more ac­ces­si­ble by de­sign, the al­ready im­pres­sive com­bat is stronger than any other en­try in the se­ries. This bodes well for the sin­gle­player jour­ney into the depths of this brand new uni­verse. Let’s not for­get the main meat of any game from BioWare comes from the story. While the quest for a new home on An­dromeda is our pri­or­ity, there’ll be plenty of worlds to dis­cover that’ll have their own sto­ries to tell and these should prove to be just as me­morable. Take the one where you have to solve the mur­der of a Kro­gan. Prowl­ing the crime scene, you use a Ef­fec­tive de­tec­tive scan­ning tool to dis­cover foot­prints, along­side other ev­i­dence. A bit like a multi-pur­pose Swiss Army Knife, the scan­ner also al­lows you to dis­cover in­for­ma­tion about your new home, but we like how its many uses could pos­si­bly en­hance quests.

As you rightly ex­pect, there are plenty of open spa­ces to poke around in and ex­plore – just don’t think the lo­cals will take too kindly to your pres­ence. One tow­er­ing mon­ster we spy Ry­der fight­ing picks our new hero up, uses them like a chew toy and thrashes them back into the ground. It’s a bru­tal mo­ment where the cam­era gets up close so you can see the dam­age and un­der­scores just how dan­ger­ous this ex­otic uni­verse re­ally is. Well, if the dead Kro­gan you’re in­ves­ti­gat­ing wasn’t a big hint.

Mar­ry­ing the depth of the orig­i­nal tril­ogy to blis­ter­ingly fast ac­tion makes Mass Ef­fect: An­dromeda feel as new as the galaxy you’re ven­tur­ing through. But don’t worry, BioWare won’t for­get what makes the se­ries spe­cial to be­gin with, and this con­fi­dent mix should put this right at the very top of your 2017 wish list.

“This is still Mass Ef­fect, but it’s a much leaner and meaner ver­sion”

right There are two new com­pan­ions in the form of Kro­gan Drack and fe­male Turian Ve­tra.

above There’s a deeper mys­tery at the heart of this galaxy that we can’t wait to in­ves­ti­gate.

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