I didn’t think it was possible but we’re this close to release and new videos popping up for Mass Effect: Andromeda have revealed characters animations that are even worse than the ones we’ve seen before.
For the first time we finally get to see how stiff and uncharacteristic Scott Ryder is in the game. While he may have been 3D scanned with better accuracy than his doughy sister Sara Ryder, he actually has worse animations than her when gesticulating and talking. The voice acting isn’t bad, but it’s jarring to hear lively voice acting attached to what looks like a mannequin trying to pantomime someone with cerebral palsy. Check it out in the video below, courtesy of IGN.
The first thing you’ll notice is at the 37 second mark.
Scott Ryder gleefully issues a “Thank you” to the cat people, known as the Angara. However, his thanks is accompanied by a blank-staring expression that even the most Botox-laden Hollywood superstar would find disturbing, and even more jarring is the equally stiff hand gesture he extends.
Now that may not seem bad, but usually when people say “thanks” they hold out their hand with their palm facing up. It’s a signal of welcome. Scott, however, lifts his cadaver-like arm where his limp wrist and dangling hand move up in a slumped position and just hangs there before robotically moving back down. It’s a strange looking segment in such a short clip, showing that even in small doses the animations in Mass Effect: Andromeda lack even the most basic movements for properly emphasized gesticulation.
There are even people in the comment section defending the poor animations, saying our technology just isn’t there yet, and we’ll need to wait five to seven years or so before it gets good enough to look real. David O’Donnell stated in one comment on the YouTube video…
“I’ve already accepted that the facial animations and lip syncing might not be all that good. They rarely are. We are still about 5 years off from that being commonplace. My primary concern is gameplay, innovation, fun, good characters and dialogue. I believe this game will be overall fantastic. Definitely not gonna let some trolls ruin it for me…..”
Let’s rewind back six years ago to L.A. Noire. Here’s a clip from GamingPortal.
I forgot how sharp the dialogue was in that game.
But wait… there’s more. Let’s go back even further.
In fact, let’s go back by a whole decade to 2007 and Ninja Theory’s Heavenly Sword. Keep in mind, this is before a lot of the middleware for phonetic lip-synching (like Annosoft) became standard fare and before a lot of those asset stores were made available for dynamic, procedural and blended animations. Check out the clip below courtesy of Red’s 3rd Dimension.
10 years old on a $20 million budget… and the animations run absolute circles around Mass Effect: Andromeda.
Everyone can hop back to the defense of the “tech” not being there, or the PS4 and Xbox One not being strong enough, or the budget not being high enough, but when a game made on a tight budget by a mid-tier development studio like Ninja Theory can run circles around a company like BioWare when it comes to animations – for a game that’s a decade old, mind you – something is seriously wrong.
Anyway, if the poor animation quality doesn’t bother you, and the racist tirades from the developers don’t bother you, and the fugly character designs don’t bother you, feel free to pick up a copy of Mass Effect: Andromeda on March 21st.
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