MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA
8 days. 88 hours. Rating: 8.6.
Will absolutely play again (far more leisurely). Now, back to writing I go! ✨
For my gamer friends, here’s a more detailed (SPOILER-FREE) review:
Rating breakdown: 8.6/10
(- 1.0) for inexcusably bad Character Creator
(- 0.3) for animation/lip syncing problems and related issues
(- 0.8) for shallow/unexplored/dropped plot threads
(- 0.3) for unnecessary filler content (the substantive game is quite complex and long; the filler made it get annoyingly long)
(+ 0.5) for truly stunning graphics and for creating artistic worlds and spacescapes to take advantage of them
(+ 0.2) for not ME3-ing the ending
(+ 0.3) for doing far better than merely not ME3-ing the ending, and finishing strong
The bulk of the rating comes from great combat and gameplay, memorable characters and a compelling storyline.
GAMEPLAY. Combat is far and away the best in the series. It’s FUN. You have tremendous flexibility in speccing across the 3 spec lines, and via crafting you have tons of options in weaponry.
CHARACTERS. Bioware had a tough hill to climb to escape the shadow of Shepard and crew. Did they succeed? …Almost, by the end. Fryda Wolff does a fantastic job as femRyder; she’s engaging, funny and likable (sorry I can’t really comment on broRyder). I’m very much looking forward to playing more of the character.
The shipmates are unique, varied and fleshed-out. It nevertheless takes a while to warm to them, just because. The loyalty missions help a lot—they are uniformly excellent. They reflect the personality of the squadmate, are often hilarious and occasionally moving.
Why only “almost,” then? Even after 88 hours, personal ties to the characters still felt a bit shallow compared to the trilogy. But the trilogy had 3 games with multiple playthroughs to build those connections, so it’s honestly an unfair comparison.
STORY. For the most part, Bioware did a good job of investing you in the fate of each planet. Some were better than others, but I suspect different people will have different favorites. The larger story—finding the other arks, stopping the Kett, understanding the Remnant—was kind of shallow in the ordinary gameplay but REALLY well done in the Priority Missions.
Many have complained that the first 10 hours are the worst 10 hours. I was having fun from the beginning, but I agree that the story improves over time. The last 3 (of 6) Priority Missions are all fantastic, and each one is better than the last. No spoilers, but the game finishes very strong.
Similarly, the most important sub-plot, uncovering the story of your family and its relationship with the AI, SAM, starts slow but gets really interesting. Anyone who’s read my books will see some common themes, issues and philosophical questions in the AI storyline 😊.
I cannot overstate how beautiful the game is. I quickly pulled out 26 screenshots worthy of showcasing; attached are 4 of them, but I could have chosen any 4. I expected excellent graphics, but I was frequently awed at the visuals.
This game is LONG. My 88 hours was thorough but by no means completionist. Unless your circumstances require it, don’t try to rush through—it’ll still take you forever to finish, you’ll end up skipping some very cool content, and you’ll probably get frustrated before you get to the end. Easily 80% of the game is quality content, so take your time and enjoy it.
Do the “Movie Night” quest. The hoops to jump through are many, but totally worth it. Do the loyalty missions, even for squadmates further down your list of favorites. They really are great.
If you want to romance a character, hit that “heart” option early and often (the filled-in heart—not the outline heart, which indicates the “empathetic/emotional” conversation choice). Feel free to flirt early on with a variety of characters, but be careful as the game progresses—there’s no cue warning you when it tips from flirting to True Love.
Don’t quit once the credits start rolling. There’s a real Epilogue.
Feel free to ask any questions you have–if it’s not too spoilery, I’ll try to answer!