Review – Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
Mass Effect is a gaming institution. Originally released in 2007, the franchise became one of the poster children of the seventh generation of home video game consoles. All thanks to its fantastic plot, memorable characters, and of course, excellent gameplay that fused third-person shooting and RPG mechanics in a way that seemed absolutely natural. Even though Andromeda ended up being quite a disappointment, a lot of people still hold the original trilogy dear. Thanks to Bioware’s brand new remaster collection, dubbed Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, we can now relive these memories with remastered visuals and quality of life improvements. Simply put, the definitive way to play these classics.
Playing Mass Effect: Legendary Edition was a very special occasion for me because I was a heathen who had never played 2 or 3 before. That means that I was about to experience the brand new version of the original Mass Effect, which is the one that received the biggest amount of improvements both when it comes to visuals and gameplay, and play two fantastic games for the first time, and boy, was it worth it. What the hell was I thinking, not playing Mass Effect 2 and 3 back in the day?
Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First of all, let’s talk about the original Mass Effect. Originally released back in 2007, it was, for a brief period of time, the most technically advanced game ever released on a console. I remember playing it back then and thinking to myself that graphics couldn’t get better than that. My fourteen year old self was absolutely naive, I know, but I was certainly playing one of the best games of its time.
However, one thing that certainly wasn’t good in that game was controlling the lunar rover/tank, the Mako. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition includes a brand new control scheme that makes these exploration segments a lot more bearable than before. If you’re a purist, you can actually revert back to the original Mako controls, but let’s face it, you won’t want to do that. Don’t be crazy.
The original Mass Effect is the one that had aged the most in terms of graphics and controls. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition did improve both significantly, but some elements could have been tinkered a bit more. I still find it very weird that there isn’t a dedicated cover button, something that is present in both Mass Effect 2 and 3. Plus, no matter how hard I try to edit the face of my Commander Shepard, he/she never manages to look like something that even remotely resembles a human being. That is a small issue also present in the remasters of 2 and 3, but it’s a bit more jarring in the original Mass Effect.
Revisiting Mass Effect was fun and all, but what I was looking forward to the most was playing Mass Effect 2 and 3 for the first time. My goodness, they are so good. I went in with knowing absolutely nothing about them. Well, I should say only knowing that Martin Sheen voices a character in both games, and that for some reason people absolutely hated the final game’s ending so much that Bioware had to release an extended version of the ending as free DLC in order to please its consumers. All throughout my playthrough, my colleagues from WayTooManyGames, as well as other friends, were constantly asking me about my thoughts about the game’s plot. Some of them even stated that they were jealous about the fact I was playing these games for the first time.
Mass Effect 2‘s story captivated me from the first minute. Sure, it’s a bit too absurd, but this is sci-fi and I certainly wasn’t expecting for factual physics to take part in this franchise’s setting. I have to say, I wasn’t a big fan of everyone’s darling Miranda as much as pretty much the rest of the internet, but ended up loving almost everyone else, with the sole exceptions being Jacob and Zaeed. For some reason, all human males in all Mass Effect games ended up being the blandest and least sympathetic characters in each of their respective games. Nobody can beat Garrus and Tali, that’s for certain.
Mass Effect 2 features better graphics and a much improved combat system than its predecessor, but it’s not without its handful of flaws. Namely the reduced emphasis on RPG elements (you never know what makes you give experience points and why) and the fact that, with the exception of a handful of moments in some of the DLC missions, every single boss battle in the entire game ended up being very boring, with the final boss of the entire game being a massive disappointment. Thankfully, the DLC chapters, which can be tackled at any time (although you should absolutely leave the Arrival mission as the last thing to do in the entire game), were highlights in terms of storytelling and gameplay set pieces. So were the loyalty missions, of course, with Tali’s being the main highlight of the entire base game, in my opinion.
Then there’s Mass Effect 3. I know a lot of people who love it and a lot of people who absolutely hate it. I get why it’s so divisive. Even with the brand new ending, the game is still controversial as hell. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feature some absolutely brilliant missions, as well as vast improvements in both its combat and visuals. Without a doubt, it’s the most beautiful of all three games, and the one with the best combat mechanics. Giving your squad orders feels more fluid, rolling around to dodge attacks is super useful, and the weapon customization allowed me to experiment even further with my arsenal.
Some moments in Mass Effect 3 felt like an absolute punch to the stomach. I cannot deny that this plot is pretty good, at least up until the very last mission, and not even a controversial ending can change that. The destination might not be the best, but man, the journey was worth every second. I won’t lie, the game feels a bit rushed in some parts, as it feels a bit more linear, with less planets to explore, less companions to travel with, and vastly simplified sidequests, but the story more than made up for those shortcomings. The DLC missions also elevated the game even further.
All in all, I thought that Mass Effect 3 was better than Mass Effect, but not as good as the second one. Which I’m sure is what everyone else has been saying for almost a decade. I was shocked with how the smallest of actions I took in Mass Effect 2 influenced on Mass Effect 3‘s outcomes. I wonder how weird it must have been for people to play Mass Effect 3 on the Wii U, where you couldn’t import a previous save file.
All three games have their own strengths and weaknesses, but if there’s one thing they all have in common, it’s the fact that their sound departments are pristine. Not only do these games feature some of the best songs ever written for a sci-fi franchise, but they feature some of the most iconic performances of voice acting in gaming history. From Shepard’s robotic yet heroic deliveries, to the fact that all Salarians sound like Aziz Ansari, as well as top notch performances from Hollywood stars like Martin Sheen and Carrie-Anne Moss, the Mass Effect trilogy is a blessing to your ears.
I loved how I could easily import save files in between games right from Mass Effect: Legendary Edition‘s main menu. I greatly appreciated the ease of choosing which game to play (and install) from a launcher menu. Also, one thing I absolutely adored about this collection was the inclusion of a photo mode. Very rarely do I spend time taking edited screenshots in games nowadays, with Ghost of Tsushima being a rare exception, but I lost count of the amount of times I stopped doing whichever action I was performing in any of these games just so I could take the coolest of pics in an exclusive angle. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition awoke my inner (and frustrated) director of photography.
The very few issues I’ve found in this collection are absolutely trivial when put against the tsunami of improvements scattered throughout all three games. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is downright fantastic. It brings life back to these three classics, improving their visuals and performance to a degree that makes it hard to remember that the third one was released nearly a decade ago. They have aged like a fine wine, featuring some of the best characters, stories, missions, and gameplay sections in any game, ever. Whether you’re a newcomer or a veteran, Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is a must-have. It will reignite your love for the franchise if you’re a veteran, or it will turn you into a brand new die-hard fan if you, like myself, are a newcomer.
All three games look vastly superior when compared to their original counterparts, with improved lighting effects and textures. You can barely notice they are from two generations ago. With that being said, some animations still look off-putting and your titular Shepard will never manage to look human, no matter how much you edit his/her appearance.
The original Mass Effect‘s gameplay takes some time to get used to, but at the very least, they did update the Mako’s terrible controls. Mass Effect 2 and 3 are incredibly fun and intuitive, especially the latter.
Iconic voice acting scattered throughout all three games, as well as some of the best soundtracks in any sci-fi franchise.
A few missions can be a bit boring in some of these games, but all in all, you’re getting three of the best role-playing games of all time in one package. Complete with all previously released DLC, vastly improved graphics, and some welcome quality of life improvements.
Final Verdict: 9.5
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is available now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Reviewed on PC.
A copy of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition was provided by the publisher.