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03/04/2018 20:30:01 •••

A disappointing sequel rife with Unfortunate Implications

First, let me start with the positives. The gameplay of Mass Effect: Andromeda is a significant improvement upon the first three games. The combat is significantly sharper and more mobile than ever before, and the focus on exploration is a welcome one. While there's not many planets to visit, the sheer size of the planets in the game and the number of sidequests pretty much ensures that you'll get your money out of the game in terms of time spent.

But the writing is glaringly bad. It is not only sub-par by the standards set by the series, but beneath Bioware as a whole. Bioware has proudly been one of the most socially conscious developers in the industry and have gone above and beyond other developers to respect women and their LGBT Fanbase in their works.

So why do we have such spectacles like a trans character deadnaming without prompting? Why is there so little content for players interested in M/M romances? Why did Bioware boast about the polyamory options, but then treat them as cheating or have so little content as to not be worth bothering? Even the Andromeda Initiative's purpose has a White Man's Burden tinge that is never shaken. From any other company this would be offensive, but from Bioware this thoughtless writing is beyond belief and feels like a betrayal of the fans who support Bioware for their inclusive and socially conscious writing. Yes, I know some of this has been addressed by patches, but in some ways that is even more insulting. Writing problems are not gameplay bugs. They should be fixed in the rough draft stage, not after the game releases. You could blame the allegedly Troubled Production or Executive Meddling for technical and gameplay issues, but this sort of Unfortunate Implications filled writing is simply inexcusable.

Outside of that, the rest of the game just feels uninspired. The original trilogy had fantastic world-building, vivid art direction, and sharply written characters and factions that made it feel interesting and believable, and nothing in Andromeda ever reaches those heights. The antagonists are Scary Dogmatic Aliens taken Up to Eleven without the mystery and menace of the Geth and Reapers. The other new alien race, the angara, are bland Rubber-Forehead Aliens. The new companions just don't have the charisma and wit and depth that made the original cast so enjoyable to be around. There is a distinctly "budget" vibe to the presentation in general, not the least is the Uncanny Valley facial animations, and the work of Jack Wall and Sam Hulick is sorely missed on the soundtrack as well. Andromeda is not without good moments, but it is such a flawed game in important aspects that it really makes me think twice about Bioware and their future.

12/25/2017 00:00:00

While I agree with most of your what you're saying, I do have one question. I'm not sure the Geth had mystery in the first game (when you said the kett lack the mystery and menace of the Reapers), since the characters speculate on the Geth's motives and Saren confirms it later in the game. I could be wrong, so what is the mystery of the Geth you're referring to?

12/25/2017 00:00:00

I would argue that the full scope of the geth\'s characterization was only revealed with Legion in the sequel though, Skid.

12/30/2017 00:00:00

Spectral has it. It is easy to say the Geth had no mystery in retrospect, but the first game left hints suggesting complex motivations beyond the typical Robot War antagonists they initially appeared to be. There's this text that appears at the end of a side mission in the first game that hints at themes only explored in the second and third games.

"As the last geth falls. you hear music come across the room. On the monitor, a quarian stands before a hushed crowd warbling a mournful a capella of worlds and innocence lost. The recorded song is dispatched to the geth worlds beyond the Perseus Veil. The transmitter shuts down."

01/12/2018 00:00:00

I see your point. I wish they did that with the kett. While there was a datapad where a kett recorded that they remembered their past life as an angara and felt conflicted, nothing came of it. I think it's possible that datapad could be a smokescreen; something only put into the game so the devs can point to it when fans complain about how one-dimensionally evil the kett are. Also, the deal with the Primus is treated as a Deal With The Devil situation (the game menu even calls it that), and The Stinger implies she'll be a villain in the possibly-now-cancelled sequel. I would've preferred the Primus to undergo a Heel Face Turn, like Arbiter from the Covenant Empire did in Halo 2.

Out of curiosity, while the Angara are not very memorable and could have been better, what makes them Rubber Forehead Aliens? They do have inhuman-looking legs if I recall correctly.

01/18/2018 00:00:00

Skid, I will admit that the angara do not fit the strict definition of the Rubber-Forehead Aliens trope, but nevertheless I found it useful to describe what I see as a blandly designed alien race in both visuals and in writing. In retrospect, I likely would not have mentioned the trope in regards to the angara to avoid any confusion in the matter.

03/04/2018 00:00:00

You\'re reading way too into this tbqh.

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