Anyone who has ever claimed to be an RPG fan will likely tell you that Mass Effect is a standard-bearer for the genre. Especially when it comes to space-themed games. They will also probably tell you that Mass effect 2 improved on the first incarnation in almost every single way. Gone were the tedious vehicle explorations. Combat was refined to perfection. And the climax? Gaming utopia.
Mass effect 3
Given the critical and commercial success of Mass Effect 2, it is understandable that the hype for the conclusion of the trilogy was massive. But as history shows it did not live up to the hype. The writing was not up to the previous standard, choices we assumed would matter appeared to, well to not matter. And even the combat seemed less slick than before. The tacked-on multiplayer mode, designed to peddle loot cases, did little to improve people’s opinions on the title.
Not everything is alright in the end
But by far and away the most criticised element of the title was its ending. While it seemed there were almost unlimited endings to the second title, mass effect three contained just the three. And to be quite honest they all seemed the same. Patches were put in place to try and improve it. And they did a little. But the damage was done and for the first time in their existence, Bioware’s golden touch seemed to have turned to lead.
But surely this misstep was a one-off? After all here was a company that gave us KOTOR. That game contained one of the greatest twists in gaming history. Plus they produced the excellent Dragon Age series. It was a matter of fact that Bioware didn’t make bad games. Until they did. Andromeda needed to be a return to form. Especially on the back of the catastrophic launch of the impressive (at least in its ambition and scope) Star Wars The Old Republic. It was not.
As bad as mass effect 3 was. By comparison to Andromeda, it was Red Dead Redemption! Loading times were bad. The storylines were appalling. The characters flat and the voice acting dire. Truly the once-revered company had fallen from grace.
Phoenix from the ashes?
It has been a long time since Andromeda left such a sour taste in our mouths. So when Bioware announced last year that they weren’t done with the series the announcement was met with a considerable amount of meh. However, some of us still remember fondly Shephard and his crew trying to avoid meeting a grizzly end in their suicide mission. So in order to give the series the revival, it so badly needs and deserves what do Bioware need to do. After all, I don’t think Mass Effect’s hull could withstand the blow of another flop.
Secrets to success
First of all, they need a top story. Yeah, it’s difficult to do anything truly groundbreaking but at very least let’s try and make it interesting. One of the keys to making this happen is via terrific voice actors. Even the words of Shakespeare will sound hammy if they are delivered by a poor actor. I can’t stress how important this is. For many of us the thing that got us into the series was the choices. But choices need to matter or we will switch off.
They also need to make sure that the gameplay is slick. Combat needs to feel epic. With the Jedi-like powers of some classes, there is no reason why they should underperform in this department but it is key that they get it right.
Of course, there are a wealth of games that should have been good and underwhelmed. Let’s hope that this isn’t one of them.