Mass Effect Andromeda thoughts so far

I’m not 100 per cent sure what it is but Mass Effect Andromeda just isn’t geling with me like previous Mass Effect games did.

Sure, it’s been a while since I played and finished Mass Effect 3 (and don’t shoot me but I didn’t have a problem with the way it originally ended before fans made a noise about it and Bioware changed things), so things might be a little fuzzy in my old man brain, but I can remember the narrative and dialogue in ME3 being much better than that in Andromeda. Much, much better.

I don’t what it is with the dialogue in Andromeda. It just feels off. It doesn’t feel right. It feels forced and cliched at times. It feels clunky, too, often delivered unemotionally so I didn’t get invested in the characters and what was happening.

I tried to see if I could find my review of ME3 I did when I wrote for Fairfax NZ but I can’t find it anywhere but I know it was a game that I couldn’t put down as I guided my Commander Shepard to the final battle against the Reapers. Andromeda, which is set 600 years after Mass Effect 3, involves new characters, new situations and new enemies as you guide Pathfinder Ryder through the Andromeda system to find new worlds to inhabit.

Mass Effect Andromeda just isn’t capturing my attention like previous Mass Effect games did. I just don’t want to spend hours playing it like I did Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect 2. Sure there are a shitload of side quests and while some are genuinely fun, most, sadly, are uninspired.

Since I started playing, the game has been patched, so some of the freaky walking stuff and creepy faces has been removed but things still look a little off to me in the character department. Environment wise, especially planet-side, things look really nice. Andromeda is generally a nice looking game – as some of the screen shots show – when it comes to planets and environments but I’m just not finding it as enjoyable as previous Mass Effect games.

I thought some of the voice acting was flat as well, with some of the voices sounded unemotional and uninterested in what was happening around them.

There’s depth to Bioware’s latest game, though, with a deep skill tree for players to customise their Pathfinder to exactly the type of hero they want. Those gamers who love tinkering with stats and the like will find much to keep them busy here as Andromeda has a lot of boosts, buffs and augments to experiment with.

Does her face look a little odd or is it just me? It’s the lips, right?

This guy’s standing just a little too close: Like bisecting my Ryder a little too close!

This NPC is called Angry Woman. Yes, Angry Woman.

The combat was solid enough, with the upgradable biotic powers useful in close quarters combat, depending on the skill tree you were going down. One thing I didn’t like, though, was a Sudoku-like puzzle that has to be solved when you tackle the game’s vaults.

I’ve never been good at Sudoku so these really frustrated the hell out of me (It wasn’t helped by the fact that most of the time you’ were forced to fight remnant forces every time you got the puzzle wrong).

The in-game menu system was confusing to navigate easily and graphical glitches abound: From NPCs doing weird things to stuff just sinking through other objects. I don’t know whether it was just my game but every time Ryder initially excited the Tempest (his spaceship) he wasn’t wearing a helmet but a split second later, he was wearing a helmet (Funnily, enough, Ryder’s squad mates weren’t wearing helmets, though). Personally, I feel as if the game could have done with a few more months in the oven, to polish things up a little.

Look, glitches aside and less-than-inspiring dialogue,  Andromeda isn’t a bad game and I’ll likely stick it out for a few more hours just to see what happens but for me, it’s just not a great, must-buy-right-now game, and that’s kind of sad when you think about it.

 

 

 

DragonAge Inquisition: A game that steals time from me – but I’m not complaining

DragonAge Inquisition: Action RPG that is great fun.

DragonAge Inquisition: Action RPG that is great fun.

I’ve been meaning to write something about DragonAge Inquisition since, well, I first started playing it a couple of weeks and 25 hours ago, but every time I sat down, fingers poised over my keyboard, I was instead drawn to the DAI desktop icon, which I promptly clicked and started playing the game.

I think that action in itself says a great deal about what I think about Bioware’s latest action-RPG: That’s it’s good enough to distract me from writing some thoughts about it.

I’ve always liked Bioware’s games – and I didn’t even rage at the ending of Mass Effect 3 – but after playing the first two DragonAge games I wasn’t sure I’d be interested in the third in the series. I didn’t get as deeply involved in DA as I did ME but after a handful of hours with DAI, I was hooked.

dai_review10Inquisition is an action RPG  where the player controls a character of your own making, depending on the class you choose. I chose a mage and if I have one regret about things it’s that I rushed through the character creation menus a little too quickly, getting a rather generic character. If I have one piece of advice, it’s spend a bit of time getting your character just right: You’ll be playing him or her for dozens of hours so you want to be happy.

The game opens with your character appearing from a green rift in time, just one of many that has opened up along DAI’s game world. As you gain the trust of those around you, you’ll face off against demons, templars … and dragons, if you’re brave enough.

While the first few hours of DAI are fairly pedestrian, stick with it as after a while the game opens up and becomes truly stunning, especially once you reach the Storm Coast and recruit tough guy Iron Bull. Don’t rush from the opening Hinterlands, though: Take your time and explore, close fade rifts, do jobs for farmers, collect magical shards. Just take your time.

DA Inquisition is also a game where you can actually spend hours just doing side missions for the people of Thedas before you even tackle the main story missions. That’s what I’ve been doing and it’s a good way to build up your party’s skills as some of the demons and monsters can be quite tough.

It’s also amazing what you’ll stumble across as you explore the land. I came across a giant fighting a dragon while exploring the Storm Coast.  I get too close but I climbed a nearby hill and just watched the incredible feat. The first time I stumbled across a dragon my party was underpowered so was wiped out pretty quickly.

sep_2_-_quiversDA Inquisition’s combat can be as complex or as easy as you want thanks to the game letting you pause mid-battle to survey your surroundings and issue orders to your three squad mates. It’s a nice option but most of the time I just blasted foes in real-time with spells from my staff.

I’ve ready a few people have had problems with DAI – I’m playing it on PC – and have experienced once crash to desktop and a DX Diaglog error when I start a few missions using the war room. It’s apparently an Origin issue, so I’ll keep investigating.

Would I recommend DragonAge Inquisition? Wholeheartedly yes. It’s an amazing game that has set the bar high, as well as issued a challenge to CD Projekt Red’s now-delayed-again The Witcher 3 for the crown of best action RPG.

We’ll have to wait until May to see how The Witcher 3 stacks up.

Thanks to the team at EA Australia for the PC code that was used for this review