Hold the Line!
In the past few days we’ve seen a lot about Mass Effect: Andromeda, and most of it has been silly and harmless, even if somewhat warranted. With all of the expectations and excitement surrounding one of the most beloved western role playing games in current gaming history, it’s understandable that something like facial animation – or lack thereof – would be a major disappointment to those of us that are really looking forward to the story’s continuation. It’s by no means unfair to say that when a person’s expression doesn’t match their words, it’s off putting. In media, that can actually serve to eliminate the immersion factor for anyone experiencing it first hand. Yet I argue that even while BioWare quickly became the gaming powerhouse it is today with franchises the likes of Mass Effect and Dragon Age under its belt, there’s something very important that we’re forgetting: these games were never beloved or even known for their artistic integrity.
Take a look at the first Mass Effect or Dragon Age (go back even further for more cringe worthy games if you like). Solid RPGs, yes. Great stories, and beautiful methods by which those stories were often told, but by many standards those games were ugly. Clay face, wax hair, bugs; yet put all of that jazz aside and these games still have and deserve their massive fan bases. Why? Because they exhibit storytelling in one of its finest forms.
All too often we forget what it is that makes us love these games, and so more often than not it’s almost never the visual aesthetic that inspires us and gives these titles a special place in our hearts. It’s the characters and the relationships we form with them through our own avatars within the games. It’s the story that some of us play over and over again, whether changing the way we did it before or only saying we’re going to, just to play it the same way as always because we loved that version so much, and it would be painful to alter it now (I’m guilty of this all the time).
BioWare has given us some of the most beloved companion video game characters of all time, one in particular going to the #1 spot on numerous lists over the course of years (Garrus Vakarian). These games have moments that last with us, good and bad (like swooping), and we never stop going back to them over and over again. I expect that even with this issue, even if it can’t be fixed in a Day 1 patch, the game will still play better than its predecessors. It will likely be the best Mass Effect to date, and in a few months when the patch for animations is fixed, we’ll forget this was ever a thing. Facial animations will not be the new Mass Effect 3 ending horror show, friends and fans. The folks at BioWare are already listening, and they’ll fix it. I think we can relax and afford them a break, yeah?
Regardless, as I stated before, when people complain that this isn’t what BioWare is, they’re wrong. Art doesn’t make a BioWare game, and it never did. Let’s not write this installment off simply because the first few hours weren’t as up to par as they should be, AAA title or not. Any game is allowed a bumpy start, especially when a grand majority of us don’t know the half of what goes into a large development process like this.
So folks, if we can, let’s give BioWare a break. Hopefully I don’t end up eating my words here when I say that this will not break the game for those of us even remotely familiar with BioWare RPGs. Yes, the face animations are bad, and by bad I mean virtually non existent. There also seems to be that same clammy looking skin texture again, which I have to admit is actually more frustrating than the animations. Am I forgiving the oversight? No, but I won’t let this deter me from enjoying a series that I absolutely love, and if you’ve ever been a fan of Mass Effect, you shouldn’t either.
We have a lot of gameplay ahead of us. Mass Effect: Andromeda promises to be larger than any of the previous games, giving us more than BioWare has likely ever afforded us before even with Dragon Age: Inquisition in the not too distant past.
I for one am looking forward to getting my copy on Tuesday, and probably won’t spend a lot of time sleeping over the next week. I sincerely hope that all of us here at Hey Poor Player and our readers feel the same, and I cannot wait to bring my review to you within the coming week.
And seriously guys, let’s just be happy they fixed the Mako unit, okay?