Sponsored By: Demiurge
Time Pathfinding: 2 hours
Palak Ryder Review
It’s been a long time, getting from there to here. It’s been a long time, but my time is finally here.
Paperback Ryder Review
Late to the party? Moi? I’m just fashionable. You might say I’m exceptionally fashionable. In fact, I’m so late to the party that I’m early for the new one.
In a way, that makes me the perfect customer for Mass Effect Andromeda. I have no baggage, no preconceptions, simply no idea what this game is all about. All I know about the original trilogy was you had to grind a lot of side-quests to make people like you, and there was the possibility of boffing someone blue. Since I spent most of my life doing the former, and have no interest at all in the latter, the series dropped neatly into the circle of Things People Who Are Not Greg Like.
As Venn diagrams go, it’s a big one. Imagine the Jawahar Circle as a 1:42 scale model of it, then picture two of them, and you might start to get the idea.
Anyway, that little accident of marketing makes me uniquely qualified to identify with Ryder, the main character of Mass Effect Andromeda. Canonically, Ryder is only the surname, with the given name of Scott or Sara, depending upon which sibling you decide to play as. You can also create your own Ryder, and so I did. He bears an uncanny resemblance to me, and has been saddled with the name Pepperbaq because that’s the kind of sense of humor I have. It also bolsters the backstory where my version of Ryder feels like his father didn’t like him much.
Anyway, Pepperbaq doesn’t have any idea what’s going on either. All he knows is that he just woke up from a six-hundred-year nap and is now in charge of finding a new home for the human race. He will do this, presumably, by grinding side quests until people like him, and possibly boffing someone blue.
I may do the former, because I’m used to it by now, but the jury is still out on the latter.
One of the nice things about coming to a series at the fourth game of a trilogy is that the nuts and bolts are fairly well polished by the thousands of hands that have already used them. I very faintly recall playing a demo of the first Mass Effect and being instantly turned off by the action mechanics. In Andromeda, I find myself pitted against what have become fairly standard cover-based shooting mechanics of the sort I came to know and like in Tom Clancy’s The Division. Sure, this character has a jetpack, but it’s still basically just running into a wall and waiting for the enemy to present a big enough target to shoot at.
At this point I can do that all day, but it took ten years of refinement to get to that point. By temperament I’m inclined to resist anything radically different until someone makes it actually work, so ten years is like the beat of a gnat’s wing to me. (And thus, some of the mystery of why I love Duke Nukem Forever is revealed)
Visually, I struggle to find much wrong with the game. The graphics are quite good by my standards, though you’d do well to take that assertion with the grain of salt I presented to you in the last paragraph. A lot of ink has been spilled complaining about the facial animations, but I can honestly say I haven’t noticed. Maybe I just don’t look at the “right” things during cutscenes.
Occasionally the cut scenes bug out on me, and someone will run in holding a weapon that is not, in fact, there. I don’t have the heart to tell them, and anyway the weapons appear during the action, which is really the only time they’re truly needed anyway. Who cares if the guns bunk off for a smoke once in a while, so long as they do the job they’re paid for when needed?
On balance, I’m glad I waited. I’m also glad that that Demiurge gave me a copy, because I probably wouldn’t have picked it up until it came down in price in ten years or so. I don’t mind waiting for the gnat to beat its wing, but sometimes it’s nice to be part of a conversation that doesn’t involve rotary menus.
Seek on, Pathfinder?
I’ll put more time into Mass Effect Andromeda, if only to see what the fuss is all about. I’m enjoying it so far, and the story has me hooked.
I do wish I hadn’t made Pepperbaq look so much like me, though. I wasn’t expecting a third-person perspective, and watching myself die while speaking in a voice that isn’t mine is a little creepy.
Is it the Dark Souls of Games that Are Totally Not KOTOR?
So far I haven’t seen anything that would lead me to believe that the evergreen Dark Souls comparison would apply to Mass Effect Andromeda. True, I did pick casual, because I still have too much pride to pick “narrative.” I could have saved my benefactor the price of a key and gone to YouTube if I were going to do that.
From what I’ve gleaned from the Andromeda forums, the game will only get easier as I level up. This makes me very, very happy, as it captures the essence of why I believe people play RPGs in the first place: to become so ungodly powerfully that they can crush entire armies with a flick of the wrist. Bring on the super-powers, you beautiful space opera! Let’s go terraform some planets!