Mass Effect Andromeda – Unpolished, Unfinished and Uninstalled – Do We Expect Too Much?

Episode 84 bursts forth into gaming circles everywhere causing more lens flare than a Zero Dawn sunrise and this week, among the what if’s and the this and that’s of the last weeks gaming news the Sparks spend some time discussing the big story of the moment – Mass Effect Andromeda – and the impact (or lack of) that this hotly anticipated game has caused.

Reflecting on his time with EA Access’ 10 hour trial, Antony (@ChessmanUK) discusses how he feels about Bioware’s latest iteration in this well loved franchise, tempering hope with unfortunate disappointment in his dissection of his time with the game. The Sparks discuss the merits of this latest incarnation, where it shines, where it loses its footing and ultimately, where its place is in the midst of the cavalcade of stellar titles spoiling gamers for choice currently in this magnificent first quarter of 2017.

Offering some insight into the questionable quality of this games final release state has been rumours of harsh working conditions for the developers of the game, a concerning amount of lead staff turnover during the course of the project and the fact that the development was given to a secondary team within the Bioware family to run with. So, a few questions there that we will probably never find the answers too but the biggest question mark surely must be, with a franchise as beloved and revered as Mass Effect with a passionate community just waiting to jump out and get involved with that next piece of Mass Effect goodness, how is it that the project was not handed to the most capable team in the house? Was the protection of the IP’s reputation not regarded as an important factor? Or did no one notice that this game, in comparison to games getting released now after a similar development cycle doesn’t quite stand shoulder to shoulder with these efforts?

There is certainly an expectation that video games get better with each iteration and even more so when they make the jump to a next generation platform. It seems though, sadly that in Andromeda’s case, the realisation of that expectation may have passed the developers by somewhat.

Let’s just stop there a second, after all it doesn’t look like the game is an absolute travesty or anything, it’s not some kind of hideous affront to video games and actually offers many hours of open world discovery ripe for the gaming adventurer who chooses to take on the many quests within Andromeda’s new galaxy. So what’s the problem? Why is it that this title is getting so much ire and disappointment from the gaming community? The answer to that lies with expectation and not blind baseless expectation that we have been burned with before but an expectation based on a pedigree that the series has carved out for itself. An expectation honed from the love of its predecessor trilogy that set a standard for the space RPG at its time and because of it’s quality, its sheer ambition and excellence, garnered itself an adoring fanbase that would obviously yearn for more of this in the future. An audience who’s cash was ripe for the picking.

So, will there be enough disappointed fans to have an ‘Effect’ on the future on this IP? Or is this merely a bump in the road that will hopefully be rectified with a Mass Effect 4 and do we as gamers expect too much and are we wrong to be so judgmental if a game doesn’t seem to have kept up with its competitors in terms of spectacle and presentation?

For the Sparks, the answer is a definitive ‘No’ and this lacklustre title has sadly been crossed off the play list in the wake of the many other great titles vying for our time at the moment. Off the list for now, maybe to look at again another time when things are a little quieter, when a few more patches have hit.

Let’s hope the next Mass Effect game, should there be one, can be more on target on hitting that expectation. Making the end product a joy for its fans and another standard for Bioware.

As Darren (@DazWhitham) completes his time with Horizon Zero Dawn, packs it up and ships it back to Boomerang Games, he reflects over his time with this jaw droppingingly gorgeous game and the fantastic story that has come to a close.  One of the well documented features of Horizon Zero Dawn is the detailed photograph mode, check out this in depth thread on this Neogaf post of some stunning screenshots and gifs highlighting the wondrous detail from the game.

Sony have announced the first PS Plus game for April, Drawn to Death, the third person multiplayer shooter from God of War creator David Jaffe.

The game will arrive 4th April, bringing with it a weird mix of competitive multiplayer in a scratchy notebook art style, could this be the next must play PS Plus multiplayer title? check out the trailer here for a reminder of that show stopping E3 trailer.

And finally…Have you finished The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Not sure what to do with all your newfound free time? Well, you could always construct a smart home that you can control with an ocarina, an ancient wind instrument that features in the game franchise.

That’s exactly what YouTube user Sufficiently Advanced did this past weekend, and the results are awesome, check out this clip below for a tour of ocarina enabled home.  Watch as the Raspberry Pi hears, it turns on a corresponding smart home device – Bolero of Fire turns up the heat, for example, while Song of Storms turns on the humidifier.

If you want more information on some of the items in this weeks Podcast here are some handy links:

If you would like to give us a rating or a review on iTunes then we have this handy link for you, click here to jump to iTunes review for the Lost Spark Podcast!

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