New 'Mass Effect' chapter seems too beholden to embattled franchise of past
The next chapter of the "Mass Effect" series arrives Tuesday, but it might not be the return to form that many were expecting or at least hopeful for.
"Mass Effect Andromeda" has been in development at BioWare Montreal for the better part of five years. It's certainly not the longest-in-development title in the industry's short history, but five years is a pretty long period and usually indicative of behind-the-scenes issues. Those issues have manifested themselves in visible, albeit somewhat amusing, bugs and glitches and some of the worst facial animation seen in a big budget narrative-driven RPG game in years.
Players have been able to play the first 10 hours of the game during a trial period as part of the EA Access subscription service on Xbox One and PC. What started as a state of a return to form for BioWare and the embattled "Mass Effect" franchise could turn into another bump in the road to complete franchise abandonment. Many series fans are still befuddled and angry by the ending of "Mass Effect 3," which culminated a three-game-long arc and additional storylines with a simple choice of three color-coded actions all of which led to the same basic conclusion one in which the majority of the galaxy's aliens were stranded on or near Earth with no way to get home once the Mass Effect relays were destroyed.
Instead of trying to salvage the ending, a new developer took the franchise reins and abandoned the previous storyline all together opting to focus on a series of ark ships that departed the Milky Way galaxy for the Andromeda galaxy in search of a new home. While completely washing the franchise's hands of the dumbstruck ending of the original trilogy, this new venture also offered the opportunity to explore a more alien landscape and return to that sense of exploration and the unknown that had been missing from the franchise since the conclusion of 2007's "Mass Effect."
The problem with "Mass Effect Andromeda" is that it's not a clean enough break. There are still humans scattered everywhere, along with Asari, Krogans and Salarians among others that were prevalent in the original trilogy. What's the point of going to a new galaxy to explore new worlds and species when very little has changed? It's a waste of a premise and a waste of a storyline.
At least in the first 10 hours, the writing has taken a tremendous dip in quality, right alongside the animations. The dialogue is clunky, actions don't make sense and the story itself is extremely weak. This may pick up as the game progresses, admittedly. The first few hours of "Mass Effect" along with pretty much any BioWare game can be kind of tedious and numbing.