Mass Effect Andromeda Review

600 Years Through Dark Space

The only experience I have with the Mass Effect series is when I downloaded the demo for Mass Effect 3. I played a couple minutes of it, had to put it down, then it was lost to memory until now. I’m not saying it was a terrible experience. I remember being fairly busy at the time. I was interrupted with something family related and just forgot to pick it back up. Mass Effect Andromeda’s story starts as the story of Mass Effect 2 concludes but before Mass Effect 3 starts. A rather creative approach as a lot of us, at this point, know how fairly hard it would be to continue after Mass Effect 3 . This way, Bioware basically has a clean slate to keep this franchise going. If only it was successful. I purchased the game on release day and before I could pop it in my PS4 to enjoy, it was already being torn apart by reviewers. A lot of which, if not all, were avid fans of the previous installments. Maybe this was just a case of nostalgia and longing for the glory that once was. The very case that plagues the Final Fantasy franchise. Having practically no experience of what Mass Effect really was about, I harbor no expectations and biased opinions towards the latest installment of the series and perhaps I can provide a different insight.

Minutes into the game and I am already annoyed. Aside from minor mission bugs that truthfully, weren’t game breaking in my case, we have dialog, and all kinds of animation issues that start. That’s when I started to truly think about why this game is being ripped apart online.

Dialog:

The majority of which is very cheesy and, for a lack of better description, lifeless. The kind that brings a new and different appreciation for fan fiction authors (not all, but most) out there. Now couple that with lackluster voice acting and you have a recipe for a “skip every scene” button mash.

Animations:

One of the first things you’ll most likely notice is the glaringly awkward animations. Be it your Ryder taking a stroll, jumping, dodging bullets, or just plain talking, its flaw is prominent. At times, my pathfinder runs like a discombobulated clay doll with extremities flailing about seemingly broken. At first, it was actually quite hilarious. But after the 3rd, 4th, 20th time it occurred, it was no longer as well received. It shouldn’t have been from the start but it had amusement value then. Still, the worst of it all was the facial animation. Games like these that offer character customization, play into the vanity of us gamers. At least for me, I try to make my characters as good looking and least comical as possible. I understand that looks are subjective but unless it’s on purpose, most of us want a decent looking character. I will have to look at him or her the duration of my time in the game. First, you are provided with meager options on the customization. With what was provided, I tried my best to create a decent looking pathfinder in a decent amount of time. My Ryder somehow came out with a perpetually surprised look. His eyeballs were ready to pop out of their sockets at any given time. Kinda hard to take him seriously especially in solemn, somber scenes. Why even give the option of customization when you’ll just end up distorting and disfiguring us?

Gameplay:

Andromeda offered multiple classes to choose from that one can either customize according to play style or just settle for presets. Each class had its own passive and active skills, both defensive and offensive. I had a blast disposing of those that refused to be nothing more than a pebble in my shoe in fun and creative ways. It complimented the plethora of weapons Andromeda provides quite well. Where its lacking is armor. There are only a few to choose from and you can upgrade them to max. You’ll need points that can be earned through missions(main and side), exploration, and discovery to upgrade your weapons and armor, so choose wisely where you allocate these points. The combat itself was average but I wasn’t expecting it to be breath taking so it did its job. There isn’t much more to say really. One aspect I had nothing to gripe about.

Story:

The potential for something amazing exists in Andromeda. I mean, quite literally, there’s a new galaxy for it. You travel over 600 years through dark space trying to escape the threat of extinction in Mass Effect 2. You awake from cryostasis to find yourself at war with a genocidal alien race. You are tasked with the title of Pathfinder and all the responsibilities that comes with it. It is your burden to find a new home for the thousands of humans and aliens alike that boarded this expedition. You’re in a monumental adventure, making history, and you would think that your decisions would actually matter. Outside of the main story line and even in some cases, within in it, it doesn’t. Colonists are being plagued by deserters turned bandits in a recent uprising. You, the Pathfinder, finds a path to quell the injustice and you receive a very forgettable display of gratitude. And if that wasn’t insulting enough, such tasks and requests are duplicated in the rest of the habitable planets in the galaxy. There is no real consequence to the decision you make despite the game’s effort in urging you that there is. You do your valiant grandeur. Speak your eloquently moving speech. They move on indifferently, in most situations,  and so do you to the next rehashed, reskinned call for help. I’ve noticed differences in dialog, so there’s that. Perhaps these adventures would be more meaningful and colorful if you brought along people to share the fun with. Well, you can have up to 6 characters that you can cycle through to form your party of 3 and go pathfinding. Each have their own unique backstory dictating their interactions with your Ryder’s decisions. Given the right response, sex, and preference, you can even have romantic relationships with them. Some of their conversations between each other can be humorous while others, annoying. I didn’t have any favorite and experimented with different combinations especially when doing their own personal quests to earn their utmost loyalty and still came out with generic results.

Replayability:

I suppose sense of ownership and responsible expenditure saw to it and made sure I at least finished the game getting as much as I can out of my investment. But at some point I had to tell myself that the fun was exceedingly fleeting when it was there and the rest resembles a Saturday morning chore. Some games rely on their replayability values through grinding for the best armor and the best weapon to own everyone that looked at you funny. And even in that same monotonous grind fun can be found if implemented correctly. A modicum amount can be found here and I feel like I’m being generous with that. It does have online multiplayer function. But it has microtransaction temptations and nothing you accomplish there can be transferred to your offline file. It might as well be its own separate game.

Overall:

Andromeda was fun–sometimes. But it was overwhelmingly disappointing; mind you I came in to this game with no expectations so that’s saying something. Don’t rent it, don’t buy it. If you must, I’d say wait for that huge price drop and hope that they had fixed the abundance of flaws (I’d list more but they do go on) that is littered throughout the game.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Review

Unlike the title of the fifth pirates movie, seemingly dead franchises still have tales to tell. It’s been 6 years since the last pirates movie and 10 years since the ending of the Will Turner trilogy. This movie takes place 19-20 years after At World’s End. So was the brief hiatus what the series needed to turn out a sequel that wasn’t lackluster? Does it stack up with the first pirates movie (the only good one)? Let’s find out, eh shavvy?

Likes:

Luke

  1. The story is not a standalone Jack Sparrow adventure like the previous movie, but actually continues off the original trilogy where Will Turner is the captain of the flying dutchman, still cursed to ferry the dead at sea (an ending that I absolutely hated). The story continues with his son, Henry Turner, seeking the Trident of Poseidon, that has the power to break his father’s curse.  I love that the film is basically seeking to fix the ending that I hated so much.
  2. The new villain played by the brilliant Javier Bardem, is truly a foe worthy of his infamy among pirates. The problem that many of the previous pirate movies had (except the first one) was the insistent of adding antagonists to the point where it’s hard to keep track of everyone’s motivations. This movie starts off as having a secondary antagonist but half way through the movie is taken out of the picture. I was relieved to say at least the plot wasn’t a muddy mess that the previous movies were. By the end of the movie, it was very clear who the protagonists and the antagonists were.
  3. The action scenes were dynamic and unique. Some were really outlandish but I had to remind myself that this was a movie about ghost pirates seeking a mythical trident. If you loved the silly action set pieces from the previous movies, then you’ll be right at home with this one.

Adam

  1. Captain Hector Barbossa was magnificently played by Geoffrey Rush. The amount of acting that he could do with just his facial expressions and how much he could convey was simply amazing. He went through the whole range of emotions and I love the arc that he has made through the series. Any time that he is on screen is great.
  2. The effects for this movie were top notch. The way Captain Salazar and his crew looked and what they were able to do was just amazing. The overall look of the movie was beautiful.

Dislikes:

Luke

  1. While the new characters aren’t as boring as the previous movie, the next generation probably won’t have the lasting effect as the original characters. Carina, the new female lead was pretty good as the scientist astronomer which is different for the series. Henry Turner was just a less interesting Will Turner though. Jack Sparrow is beginning to lack his charm. They set up Jack to be a washed up has-been who is a dying breed of pirate which would have been interesting had they not promptly dropped it once the adventure started and he went about doing his usual thing. They really need to find a new angle for him, or maybe give him an arc for once, like the first movie.
  2. I don’t like the implications that the post credits scene made. The ending of this movie was quite satisfying and they’re trying to muddy it up with sequel bait.

Adam

  1. I was very disappointed with Jack in this film. In all of the other films he is almost always in control of the situation and if something doesn’t quite go his way he has back up plans. In this film he very rarely seemed to have a plan and when the plans he did have went wrong he didn’t have backup plans. I agree with Luke, he lost some of his charm and also some of his wit.
  2. The post credit scene was completely sequel bait and, I feel, didn’t make any sense based on how the movie ended. They are making and exception to the films resolution just for the sake of a sequel.

Awkward Walk-in Meter: 2/5

Luke: There is some suggestive humor in it that will likely go over the kid’s heads. Pirates drinking rum is a mainstay of the series. Some parts might be too scary for the little ones. It’s your typical PG-13 movie.

Overall:

Luke: It’s safe to say that this movie is the second best pirates movie to date. Not hard to do as the last three were pretty lackluster. There are a lot of things this movie does right that the previous movies failed to do but it still doesn’t live up to the charm of the original pirates movie. If you were disappointed in the ending of At World’s End, you will want to see this movie as it delivers a much more satisfying conclusion for all your favorite characters from the first pirate films. So while this movie wasn’t great like the first movie, it was at the very least good.

Adam:  This was a good movie and a good attempt to return to what the was so good about the first film. It didn’t quite make it there but there was still a lot of good in it. There was several touching moments that were lacking from many of the other films and several character arc were excellent. The ending of the movie was extremely satisfying and clean. If you are a fan of Curse of the Black Pearl then go see this one in theaters.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

The first Guardians of the Galaxy was one of those great surprises that Marvel pulled out. Many people didn’t know about them and the hype wasn’t as big surrounding it. No one knew what to expect. It quickly turned into a favorite for many fans and introduced some very untraditional and very funny heroes. As we move on to Vol. 2 how will it compare with the first and fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Likes:

Adam

  1. The comedy. This is really one of, if not the funniest Marvel movie to date. I laughed so much during this movie. Drax is always getting a laugh for his social ineptitude. Quill for his ill timed boasting and his love of retro things. Rocket and Groot are always such a good funny team.
  2. The Relationships. In this movie they explored and deepened the relationships between many characters. Now they didn’t go super deep but I was amazed at how many characters we gained a greater understanding about, and how much relationships grew between the characters.

Luke

  1. I’m happy that they actually brought color into a Marvel movie. While the first Guardians movie had color, they turned up the saturation quite a bit. Ironically many excuse DC of lacking color in their movies, but the fact is that the Marvel movies are really flat when it comes to color grading. This is not the case with this movie where there are dark tones, bright tones and an entire spectrum of color. This is easily the best looking Marvel movie to date.

Dislikes:

Adam

  1. Space Jumps. In this movie they use a technology previously unseen, space jumps. The design of them is cool looking, but was confusing to me. It looked to me like they were breaking through a holographic wall and there was no sense speed or how far they were going. It also leads to a very goofy scene with Rocket part way through the movie that I didn’t care for.

Luke

  1. I don’t know why Disney has the need to introduce the antagonist late in the plot. It’s usually for some shock twist in the form of betrayals or motivation reveals. The main antagonist reveal is so obvious that the twist doesn’t feel earned. There also seems to be too many different sub-antagonists in the film that it starts to give me flashbacks to the pirates sequels.
  2. The ending is drawn out way too long. It was one of the few sober scenes and even then they tried to push too much comedy into it. The comedy for the large bulk of the movie was quite great actually, but the ending it just seemed inappropriate for the scene’s tone.
  3. There wasn’t much tension for the third act, as we go in knowing the a third movie has been approved and that the guardians are going to show up in the third Avengers movie. This is a problem with superhero movies as the planet destroying (in the case of this movie, galaxy destroying) super villain plot can’t happen for the sake of future movies. There could have been a more personal conflict to end the movie (like Civil War for example) where failure is actually possible (setting a more dire situation for the next film). Then the ending could be a lot more suspenseful.

Like & Dislike:

Adam

  1. I like how this movie shows just how powerful the guardians are. We see to a greater extent what they are capable of and they can do some really cool stuff. They show off their skills and it is awesome when they do. However there is a scene with Drax that I feel was just too over the top with how much punishment he can take with out a scratch.

Luke

  1. The post credit scenes are a bit overkill. There are a bunch of them and most of them are references to obscure comic series. There are two that I do like though, the first one then the middle one. Those are pretty funny.

Awkward Walk-in Meter: 2/5

Adam: There was a scene with what was implied as a android brothel but with nothing really shown except for a character finishing buttoning up his pants. The whole scene was very brief. There was also a little more language than normal and some talk of male genitals.

Overall:

Adam: This movie was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. I was laughing for so much of this movie and like how they did stick to using old songs for the sound track like the first one did. There was a lot of good character growth but every one keeps their personality and I was able to gain a better understanding of many of the characters traits. Make sure to stay to the very end because there are 5 post movie scenes sprinkled through out the credits. Is it as good as the first one? I haven’t decided yet and will need to go back and see it again to decide.

Luke: I agree with Adam where the movie, much like the first one, is a fun and entertaining movie. However the first one was different enough to be fresh, this one kind of felt like a bunch of other movies I’ve seen before. While it is the most visually stunning of the Marvel films, it lacked the deeper subtext, emotional core or ingenuity that has made other movies stand out in the superhero genre (i.e. Logan, The Dark Knight, Civil War). But it is still a fun popcorn movie that you can have a good and fun 2 hours.