Good Thing: The Andromeda Galaxy is Mass Effect’s Most Beautiful Element
Since the 1990s, the Hubble Space Telescope has been beaming images of stars, nebulas and galaxies back to Earth, giving us the best look anyone alive had ever seen at the worlds beyond our own Milky Way home. Our nearest neighboring galaxy, Andromeda, is but a mere 2.5 million light years from Earth, and though you can view it on a clear night without the aid of NASA’s orbiting photography satellite, consumer-grade optics just don’t have the same panache.
But thanks to Bioware and Mass Effect Andromeda, we don’t really need it either. The latest entry in the spacefaring RPG series from EA’s Bioware studio transports players to the Andromeda galaxy, presenting them not only with a whole new galaxy to explore, but some of the most awe-inspiring space imagery I’ve ever seen.
Back in 2012, it was easy to be blown away by how well Bioware rendered the Milky Way in Mass Effect 3. At the time however, the galactic map presented more of a wide view of the different clusters and solar systems throughout the galaxy. The images were impressive, and according to NASA and Bioware, were a combination of authentic Hubble images, orbital photography from shuttle missions and original designs from the developers themselves. As impressive as Commander Shepard’s journey through space was five years ago, the power of this generation’s current consoles gave Bioware the tools necessary to crank the imagery up to 11.
Traveling through space to get to the next planet and objective is a necessary tool for completing Mass Effect Andromeda, and Bioware doesn’t take this element lightly. The game could easily just warp you to the next location without showcasing some of the outrageous sights of Bioware’s version of the Andromeda galaxy, but then it would be robbing players of some of the most gorgeous imagery to ever grace their displays.
Though some have complained of the laborious nature of flying around Andromeda in the Tempest shuttle, I’ve found it a more measured, meditative experience. Bereft some advancements in science and space travel happen within the next 20 years, I won’t get to know if the universe is actually full of stars. Okay, well I know it is, but you know what I mean. My existence will be grounded to this celestial being, and I’ll not know what beauty the void of space holds save for what other explorers can show me. Unless I’m playing Mass Effect Andromeda anyway.
Even the most cynical person cannot possibly ignore the majesty of Bioware’s fictional Andromeda. Were you to show someone images of this galaxy without declaring them from a video game, you’d likely be able to fool that person about the pictures’ authenticity. Yes, the Hubble has managed to snap shots of “creation,” but what Bioware’s been inspired to craft with the work done by NASA, the European Space Agency, scientists and astronauts around the globe is nothing short of breathtaking.
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