REVIEW: ‘Mass Effect: Legendary Edition’ is Fit for the Legend (PC)

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Mass Effect Matters - Mass Effect Legendary Edition

The Mass Effect trilogy is one of the biggest series of games in the games industry. All three titles were released from 2007 to 2012, and had a massive impact on the players who experienced them. The trilogy spun an epic tale following Commander Shephard as they fought to save the galaxy from an oncoming threat that would wipe out all life. Along the way, players had to make difficult decisions, learn the history and politics of the world, and build relationships with their companions and friends within the game. Almost a decade after the trilogy’s conclusion, publisher EA and developer BioWare have remastered all three games and released them in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition.

The bundle delivers graphical and mechanical improvements to bring the games better in line with one another and bring them more to modern standards while also bundling in almost all of the trilogy’s sizable library of DLC content. The only content missing from the package is the original Mass Effect’s Pinnacle Station DLC and Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer mode. 

The vast majority of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition’s changes are focused on bringing the player experience going through the first Mass Effect more in line with the following two titles. The game has received numerous visual enhancements and improvements that players have come to expect from remasters, including new textures, meshes, and lighting. The majority of the remastering is well done, with textures looking drastically improved over the original release. The second and third games also received some tweaking, but this was concentrated primarily on updating the lighting throughout and slight changes to camera angles during cutscenes. 

The changes are largely great, but there are some more aged aspects of the trilogy that aren’t quite as well ironed out. Animations, especially in the first Mass Effect, can still look a bit wonky. This is especially true of facial animations. A lot of time across the trilogy is spent exploring dialogue trees, and the animations being untouched does diminish some of the remaster work done on the first title as the poor animations easily overshadow the detailed textures and new meshes. This is especially when playing a Shephard with a customized appearance. It is very easy to make Shephard look very off through the customization and the facial animations often make appearances that look fine in stasis look much worse in motion. 

Mass Effect Matters - Mass Effect Legendary Edition

The first Mass Effect also received a number of mechanical and systemic updates as well. Of course, this means that the Mako controls were finally updated to give the vehicle much more weight when being controlled, but it is still the weakest part of the game. Other improvements are much more successful. Combat has been overhauled to feature tighter, more responsive controls. Mass Effect also had many of its powers tweaked to work more similarly with the later titles and the changes all add to feel much more pleasant and modern to play. 

Encounters have also been slightly tweaked in the first title, which has made them much easier than they were in the original. I played through the entire trilogy on the Insanity difficulty with the expectation of running into some extreme difficulty spikes as were present in the original releases. But the encounter tweaks combined with improved responsiveness of controls leads to the encounters playing quite a lot easier than they did in the original releases. This is not necessarily a negative aspect of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, but it is worth noting that players who want the Insanity experience they may be nostalgic for won’t be able to find it here. 

However, the Mass Effect trilogy has always been about a lot more than shooting enemies from behind waist-high walls. The trilogy boasts one of the most diverse and interesting casts of characters in the industry all used to tell a captivating story spanning hours of gameplay and myriad player choices. While this aspect has received the least attention in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, it is the one that has possibly benefitted the most from the remaster. 

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition allows players to access all three games from a single launcher and makes the process of transferring a player’s save from one title to the next an absolute breeze. Playing through the entire trilogy, with all of its extended content and DLC additions in a row is a unique experience. It brings the scope of the trilogy into focus, with a player’s decisions leading to consequences dozens of hours later while the player is still able to remember exactly what caused the dominoes to fall in that specific way. 

Mass Effect Matters - Mass Effect Legendary Edition

Playing through all three of the games in a row and in one easy package also helps cement the Mass Effect trilogy as a powerhouse of storytelling in video games. The complexity of the characters, the story arcs that players play through, and the moral quandaries and concepts that the games explore are staggering in their variety and consistent level of quality when displayed in such close proximity. Of course, there are some parts of the story that fall a bit flatter than others, but they detract very little from the grand scope of the entire package. 

All of this comes together to make a remastered trilogy that is perfect for returning players to run through once again while being the best place for interested new players to jump in as well. The Mass Effect trilogy is the crown jewel of BioWare’s storied history, and Mass Effect: Legendary Edition gives one of gaming’s best trilogies the caring attention it deserves and delivers it with numerous changes that service the games as a whole very well. 

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is available now on PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
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    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

All of this comes together to make a remastered trilogy that is perfect for returning players to run through once again while being the best place for interested new players to jump in as well. The Mass Effect trilogy is the crown jewel of BioWare’s storied history, and Mass Effect: Legendary Edition gives one of gaming’s best trilogies the caring attention it deserves and delivers it with numerous changes that service the games as a whole very well.