A giant ship carves its way through space. An Earth-like planet looms in the distance. Hibernation chambers pop open and out stagger some bleary-eyed humans, ready for a coffee and a chance to breathe some fresh air.

But when their exploration vessels crash-land on foreign soil, one belonging to an armed and dangerous alien race called the Ketts, things suddenly get interesting.

The opening for Mass Effect: Andromeda promises so much: a video game version of Battlestar Galactica, Aliens or The Expanse, one which casts you as either Scott or Sara Ryder, a space coloniser - or Pathfinder - tasked with finding a new planet for habitation.

But Bioware's fourth game in their super popular franchise - a spin-off that sidesteps all those questions from the devastatingly dodgy ending of 2012's Mass Effect 3 - can't live up to those lofty ambitions.

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For starters, its graphics simply aren't up to the task. Animations are wonky and weird, while locations are eerily similar, easily confused, blocky and boring.

Spin around too fast and there are lagging frame rates that can, and do, make you feel seasick. At one point, after jetpacking up to assess the path ahead, my game just stopped, like a Netflix show was buffering.

At another, I took out an enemy hoard only to watch one collapse and spin around on the ground like a clock. He's probably still going, digging himself a circular grave.

That's not all. Your travels involve many, many achingly awkward and time-consuming interactions as you tick off dialogue boxes with your new space pals. Honestly, Andromeda has more talking in it than an Aaron Sorkin film binge.

It's an issue that holds up proceedings throughout the game, as do quests that feel irrelevant. Open boxes using the triangle button, shoot some aliens. Fix electrical issues using the triangle button, shoot some aliens. Push a button, shoot some slightly different looking aliens.

One of the Ketts in Mass Effect: Andromeda.
One of the Ketts in Mass Effect: Andromeda.

Things do improve after that tedious opening 90 minutes. You get your own ship and crew, then head out to explore. Rest assured, Bioware has given you a lot to explore. It's obvious a lot of effort has gone into cramming plenty into this giant third-person RPG shooter.

But with Horizon Zero Dawn and Zelda: Breath of the Wild, we've already been super spoiled this year. Andromeda just takes too much effort, and too much talking, to get involved.

All those problems make it feel like you're suffering through a low-rent and far too talky version of Destiny. Who in their right mind would want to play that?

LOWDOWN
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Stars: 2.5
Rating: R13
Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
Verdict: You might want to sit out this space race