Shared from the 2017-03-25 Chattanooga eEdition


‘Mass Effect’ stumbles in trip to new galaxy



Time for spring break! Why not book a trip to the Andromeda Galaxy?

“Mass Effect: Andromeda” (Electronic Arts, for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, $59.99) invites you to take part in this grand adventure — but, like the journey it describes, it delivers mixed results. Occasionally it rewards you with the sense of wonder that every science fiction fan craves, but you have to work your way through some genre cliches to get there.

You can play as Sara or Scott Ryder, the offspring of one of the galaxy’s most renowned explorers. Early on, the young, inexperienced Ryder is thrust into the role of Pathfinder, whose job is to find a decent place to live for all these refugees from the Milky Way. Early attempts to establish habitats haven’t gone well, so Ryder needs to figure out what went wrong.

The most glaring issue is the Kett, a race of lizardlike conquerors bent on destroying every other sentient species in the galaxy. More puzzling are the Remnants, robotic killing machines guarding mysterious monoliths that may hold the secrets to turning Andromeda’s planets into livable worlds.

Your crew members include a couple of humans and some familiar alien types from the earlier games, and part of the intrigue comes from trying to figure out why they were so eager to flee the Milky Way. You’ll also be joined by one of the locals, a creature called an Angaran that looks kind of like a lion, if you made it stand on two legs and wear clothes.

All your companions have different talents that come in handy in battle, and Ryder can be customized with psychic powers or tech skills that let her, say, fling turrets into enemy camps. The firefights are fast-paced and engaging, though I missed the previous games’ ability to

pause the action and issue commands to your squadmates.

Developer BioWare has a reputation for compelling storytelling, but the story falls flat. The game also is bedeviled by some aggravating technical issues, like creepy facial animations and a clunky menu system. And yet, there are rewards. Some of the side missions recapture Bio-Ware’s storytelling magic, and the scenery — from the dusty wastelands of one

planet to the lush forests of

another — is eye-popping

throughout. It’s a rough

journey, but I’m glad I

took it.

Two-and-a-half stars out of four.

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