Science-Fiction Weekly – Mass Effect Andromeda, Star Wars, Mystery Science Theater 3000

by Andrew Reiner on Mar 21, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Mass Effect Andromeda has been criticized for its graphical mishaps, but don't let a strange walking animation hold you back from suiting up in the N7 armor again. While I can definitively say Andromeda is my least favorite chapter in the series, I still had a great time getting to know Ryder, her crew, and exploring the universe to find a new home. Andromeda is a huge game, offering the series' best combat, fascinating companion missions, and the strong hook of exploring the unknown. Each planet was fun to chart, and the secrets they contained made the effort worthwhile.

The main plot line disappoints in the end, largely due to the villain lurking in the shadows for too long and unleashing a confusing doomsday threat, but the story still delivers plenty of great moments, especially those centered around Jaal and Drack, two of Ryder's companions.

My biggest complaint in Andromeda is how familiar everything feels. The great expedition to a new galaxy is mostly seen through the eyes of the same species from Mass Effect 1-3. Many of them bring the baggage and topics we thoroughly explored with Commander Shepard.It feels like more of the same, just in a different location.

Game Informer's Joe Juba wrote up a wonderful review that echoes many of my sentiments. A snippet from his review:

"The open-world structure lets you pursue the stories you find interesting, putting you in charge of your journey into the unknown. These threads are where I found my favorite stories in Andromeda, and I had trouble choosing which interesting tasks to tackle next. Should I track down the Initiative’s missing arks, help the crew organize a movie night, or unlock the pieces of a mystery involving the Ryder family? Seemingly inconsequential filler like going around the map to place seismic hammers can lead to big surprises, encouraging you to leave no stone unturned. I even enjoy cruising between objectives in the Nomad, since it emphasizes how large and untamed the worlds are. Cresting a ridge after a long drive and seeing an alien landscape on the horizon and the ruins of an ancient civilization below you captures the essence of exploration in Andromeda."

If you enjoyed Shepard's Mass Effect trilogy, you really should give Andromeda a look. It's a little rough around the edges, and the narrative doesn't catch fire, but the universe building is still strong, and I like where the story ends up. It makes me want a sequel.

If you want to hear more of our thoughts on Andromeda, check out our live stream (happening right now!) and our walkthrough of the game's first two hours (below).

Gary Whitta was once the editor-in-chief of PC Gamer, but his interest in writing took him in a different direction. He became a screenwriter, and quickly found success with his scripts for The Book of Eli, which catapulted his career, culminating in his latest film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Last week I told you that Lucasfilm's president Kathleen Kennedy gave Rogue One's ending the green light, but Whitta didn't think they could get away with such a dark send off in a Star Wars film.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Whitta revealed, despite the instinct to end on a somber note, the original screenplay ended with a heroic escape. SPOILER: When the Death Star fires on Scarif, Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor have the data tapes containing the Death Star's plans in hand – they weren't transmitted through the shield. Jyn and Cassian are picked up by a Rebel vessel on the beach. “The transfer of the plans happened later," Whitta said. "They jumped away and later [Leia’s] ship came in from Alderaan to help them. The ship-to-ship data transfer happened off Scarif.”

Darth Vader was still a big piece of this finale, once again showing his Star Destroyer chasing the Tantive IV. After Jyn and Cassian hand off the plans, they escape in a pod, and are left floating in space. The Empire couldn't locate the pod, given the vast amounts of debris in space.

“The fact that we had to jump through so many hoops to keep them alive was the writing gods telling us that if they were meant to live it wouldn’t be this difficult," Whitta concluded. “We decided they should die on the surface [of Scarif], and that was the way it ended. We were constantly trying to make all the pieces fit together. We tried every single idea. Eventually, through endless development you get through an evolutionary process where the best version rises to the top."

Whitta's version of the script didn't feature Bodhi Rook, Baze Malbus, or Chirrut Imwe. Jyn became a sergeant in the Rebel Alliance. The funny thing; the script remained that way long enough for merchandise to be created with the wrong title for Jyn. One of Hasbro's action figures, which you can still find on store shelves today, features the error. END SPOILER

In a different sector of the science-fiction universe, the quadrant where people mock bad movies, Mystery Science Theater 3000's revival is coming to Netflix on April 14. The season consists of 20 episodes, headed by the original show's creator Joel Hodgson. He's enlisted the talents of Felicia Day and Payton Oswalt to play the show's villains. Day is playing Kinga Forrester (the daughter of Dr. Clayton Forrester), and Oswalt is TV's Son of TV's Frank.

In a final bit of movie news, Paramount has reportedly killed plans for a Terminator 6. After failing to take the series in an interesting new direction in Terminator Genisys, this is probably best. On the plus side, James Cameron will regain the full rights to Terminator in 2019. He's already stated he would like to bring it back, perhaps with Deadpool director Tim Miller attached. One franchise that isn't getting a breather is Alien. After this year's Alien: Covenant hits theaters, it sounds like Ridley Scott plans on making a prequel to it. Yes, I know this is confusing. He accidentally (or not so accidentally) mentioned an alien film called Awakening in an interview with Fandango. “It will go Prometheus, Awakening, Covenant.. fairly integral where this colonization ship is on the way..." he said.

From the sound of this, I'm guessing Covenant's conclusion leads into the original Alien film, and we'll likely learn more about the xenomorph origins in Awakening. That sounds great to me, especially if Scott directs it.

That's it for this week, folks. I'd love to hear what you think of Mass Effect in the comments section below.

Fun fact of the week: An episode of the Star Wars: Droids cartoon from the 1980s is called "The Revenge of Kybo Ren."