Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Andromeda Redux Boogaloo

I've now completed Mass Effect: Andromeda, and here's my follow up post to this. Do I still like it? Got bored? Fed up with a thing? Time to find out!

Random thoughts ahoy, no major spoilers but maybe some mild ones:

* The final mission(s) was great. No spoilers, but everything major you worked towards in some way paid off - or not - throughout the long last leg, and made for a dramatic conclusion.

* The story does, eventually, move on from "help us live on all these planets" but even then, you'll still be better equipped to deal with the finale assuming you keep on with the whole Pathfinding thing. Part of me wishes writers wouldn't rely on magical ancient space alien tech as the quick fix for a story (good thing you ended up in a new galaxy with gigantic terraforming / atmospheric processors everywhere, huh), but having said that, you don't need to use them to make the planets habitable.

Still, this feels like a missed opportunity to go in hard with a realistic sci-fi setup. While I won't deny the immediate visual change of each planet is wonderful once you flip the switch, making the planets feel livable feels a bit easy once you start ticking off the processor checkboxes. There's already more than enough in each world to get the viability level to 100% without magic space tech ramming it up by 40 points. It's not even that difficult to do it - activate 3 things, enter a vault (and the one I did outside of story missions was surprisingly short) - bam, done.

Stop making it easy!

* There's an incredibly important and vaguely dramatic reveal post finale, and it's also easily missed. Don't miss it?

* Inventory management has been improved somewhat with the patch which increases inventory space. Even so, managing it is a shambles - everything seems to involve multiple clicks at all times. Also, why do blueprints for lower level guns still show up? Why would I ever make them again? Why does this game somehow go back and reuse the inventory setup from the original game, yet somehow make it even clunkier?

To select an item to sell, I really shouldn't have to click space, return, space every time. 3 clicks for a 1 click action. This kind of excessive clicking is everywhere. Make it stop!

* Upgrading the Nomad to fire an electrical charge once shields are depleted means driving it into a crowd of Kett and waiting for it to go boom is my new jam.

* Bioware now allows you to skip the space travel animations, which is great if you want it, but muh immersion is now sorta borked due to the "PRESS TAB TO SKIP" icon on the screen. I don't want that. Also if you zoom the FOV all the way out then you see a piece of the Tempest bridge. One day I want a game like this where you can see the ship moving in space while you're still walking around and stuff. With the amount of space on display in the Tempest, it's a crying shame that you can't.

* Oh, travel. You can skip animations between planets in a system, but not system to system. This makes one of the main story missions - where you literally do nothing but jump from system to system 3 times to scan things - remain an obnoxious time-sinky annoyance.

Seriously: why did someone think the most dramatic lead-in to a climatic mission was to have you warp from system to system, scan a thing, then do it twice more?

* There are way too many systems with five planets to scan and literally nothing in them - not even like, 10 bits of iron or whatever. I may be mis-remembering, but I don't think there were this many pointless deadzones in earlier games, and those are in a galaxy pretty much stripped of resources. I'm now in a new galaxy and I can't find one single thing to do / collect across a ton of systems? Really?

* The cut and paste fact models don't hugely bother me, but I do find it bizarre that the face models on your alien companions are also cut and pastes. Why do Vetra and Doctor Whatserface suffer from this? Why does Drack not have eyeballs which fit his skull properly? While I'm at it, why are there no clothing changes for companions? And how does Ryder manage to have parts of her model showing through the leather jacket?

* I'm not huuugely sold on the big bad of this game, and it definitely needed a bit more variety where that was concerned. They definitely make some thematic shoutouts to the earlier titles, but didn't go where I thought they would with the story. So, uh, phew.

* Ryder's slow transformation from clueless newcomer to absolute badass is note perfect, and I'm so pleased we didn't just get an InstaShepard from the beginning. Having said that, they're still kinda goofy by the end so that's cool too.

* I don't know if devs have to assume players are thick as planks or what, but dear god why has SAM's endless babble not been patched out?

All too often, it interrupts crew dialogue, important plot points, and more besides. I do not need to be told this area can be mined for resources 80 hours into the game, after I've opened up the mining interface. I KNOW, SAM.

Same goes for emails, temperature changes (both up and down) and pretty much everything else. For the love of god, shut up.

* I'm still scanning stuff and not having a problem with it. I know some people hate it, but it gives greater interactivity to the worlds you explore and makes sense thematically. This is going to be removed for the sequel, isn't it.

Final ramble: when the first ME came out, I bought a rather lovely art book. The cover shot of Noveria will forever be my lasting mental image of the game; exploration, weird buildings, and shitload of snow (look, I want my alien snow planet, okay?)

I felt like I never got that sense of exploration because on follow up playthroughs you realise ME1 is still a corridor shooter - it's just that it has longer corridors than ME2 and a lot more foliage.

I finally feel like I got that, ten years on, with Andromeda.

No comments: