A Cosmos Without Garrus Scarcely Bears Thinking About

Happy new year everybody! May there be more of them …

So, Mass Effect: Andromeda is on the horizon, glinting like a speck of rare element zero. It’s oh so pretty and majestic AF. Have you upgraded your omni tools and replenished your medi-gel supplies yet? You’re about to embark on the best damn space opera epic you’ve ever experienced because there’s no way that BioWare and EA will disappoint the veteran paragons and renegades out there roaming the Artemis Tau Cluster …

There’s a lot ryding on Andromeda [sic], the latest and soon-to-be-released entry in the Mass Effect saga. What’s the best thing to do when you’re super-hyped about a new game? You check out the source material again and again and again.

The original trilogy is a science-fiction extravaganza where you pilot a starship, deal with space wizards, explore exotic locations and convince aliens that the humans are pretty cool to hang with.

The original masterpiece grooms Commander Shepard to be the first human Spectre—kind of like a Judge Dredd only not as grunty. There’s planet-side exploration in a dune-buggy-tank (Mako), plenty of deep conversations to be had and a wonderful universe full of Prothean relics, mystery and intrigue. And you can share that experience with an ensemble cast including the Turian sharpshooter, Garrus Vakarian and the tough-as-bipedal-turtle-people (Krogan) Urdnot Wrex.

The gunplay is a combination of tech powers, a spin-off of the Force as well as pistols, snipers, assault rifles and shotguns that have differing levels of overheating. I like this approach. No ammo, just managing timers for your diverse arsenal.

If you like your role-playing games and a story that doesn’t hold your hand, numero uno is the way to go.

If you enjoy slick visuals, more eye candy and a streamlined third-person cover shooter, welcome to ME2. Praised by many as the ultimate Mass Effect game, the second outing is a much more streamlined and user-friendly affair. For additional combat complexity, you now have to deal with shields and armour in specific ways.

Yeah, you need to overload the shields, pew-pew the armour away and then you can finish off the baddies. This playstyle forces you to switch up your gun use. Oh, and there’s thermal clips to get rid of your overheat woes. It’s essentially an ammo system that, for me, ruins the fun of sticking with a single sidearm. My other beef is that there are no more weapon specialisations (in the original game if you were a sniper n00b, for instance, you wouldn’t be able to aim-down-sights or be very effective).

ME2 removes the tactical element by letting Commander Shepard become a one-man or one-lady army.

And then there’s the third one but we don’t talk about that rushed, controversial cash cow. It would be most impressive if Andromeda failed even harder than the last game. It does, after all, look a bit too familiar.

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