Mass Effect Andromeda review – Too much clunk to survive?

Mass Effect Andromeda reviewIt’s hard not to be a little disappointed with the end result that Mass Effect Andromeda delivers having been so wowed by the potential of the game. The trailers seemed to indicate we were in for a sci-fi third person shooter masterpiece, but the game itself goes in a slightly different direction than they made out and there’s just a little too much clunk to the gameplay and story for it to hook us as much as we’d been hoping for.

What we were expecting was a fun-filled, locked and loaded adventure in the wild wild west of the Andromeda galaxy in a bid to find a new home for the future of humanity and the rest of our friendly alien chums. However, what we get is something much more formulaic and prescribed with less freedom or adventure and more stuffy formality. As a result it’s about as far away from a science fiction equivalent to Red Dead Redemption 2 as is possible, which is a shame.

Starting out in the game is time consuming and frustrating with a stilted opening sequence that takes a lot to wade through, with long and laborious cinematics and unnecessary fluff that could have been cut down to drop you into the action a lot quicker. Not every game can keep you hooked through a lengthy cinematic start and while Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain pulled it off with epic intensity, Mass Effect Andromeda lacks the pace and dramatic narrative and visuals to keep you from getting bored.

Mass Effect Andromeda intro gameplay:

When you do eventually get dropped onto your first “golden” world to investigate, you’re already frustrated with the game, which makes the clunky gameplay elements even more annoying, which could easily put you off in the first couple of hours of gaming. Switching weapons and aiming isn’t as pin-point as you would expect from highly advance, futuristic arsenal and the cover system takes a little time to get to grips with. There are also a few movement anomalies, ranging from a weird juddering run when you come into contact with something underfoot, or a wall, along with some camera issues that can be disorientating at times. Check out our video gameplay introduction video above to see how we got on with the start of the game to see some of the issues for yourself.

It’s not until you get much further into Mass Effect Andromeda that you start to appreciate it a little bit more. The gameplay issues are still there, but you start to adapt to them much better, allowing you to take our the enemies more proficiently and not get hung up on movement or camera glitches. Equally, the cinematic cut scenes are still present, but they’re nowhere near of often as in the start of the game and actually they get a little better, especially when you start to meet some of the cooler characters.

If you want to give yourself the best chance of success in the game, you need to quickly get the hung of the cover system, because it’s literally the only thing that will keep you in the game. It can be an unforgiving game at times, especially if you’ve gone for one of the tougher difficulty settings, so you’ll need that cover to take out all of the nasties that Andromeda has to offer. Spend too much time in the open or advance too quickly into enemy territory and you’ll get gunned down quickly, so make sure you’ve got a game plan, good cover and a retreat route to take if you need it. Check out our second gameplay video taking on the third monolith on Eos to see the cover system in action.

Mass Effect Andromeda cover system gameplay video:

The graphics can be stunning at their best, but at their worst they look a little too boxy, which makes for a weird mix. It’s the graphical equivalent to driving a Ferrari, but dating a girl with a 5 o’clock shadow, square jaw and flat face. If you’re going to invest in making things beautiful then you can’t mess it up by throwing in ugly kippers every now and again.

Overall, it’s a mixed review for us. Mass Effect Andromeda is massive and when you do get into the action it can be a lot of fun, but it doesn’t make it easy for you, especially when you first start out. It’s just about worth the effort if you’re out of gaming options right now, but it’ll take a long time to put a smile on your face. However, the biggest let down is that it just isn’t the game that BioWare and Electronic Arts made out, which is always a downer.

Mass Effect Andromeda review: 3.5/5

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