Mass Effect Legendary Edition is out now, and the game is back bigger and better than ever! After Anthem and Mass Effect Andromeda of most recent years, Bioware have taken to remastering the original Mass Effect Trilogy.
The very first game came out exclusively on the Xbox 360, back in 2007, and was loved by everyone. Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 were both released on Xbox and Playstation, and the 3rd instalment also came out on the Wii U. All titles also released on the PC at different points. Interestingly enough, before the original Mass Effect arrived on the PS3, you went through a digital comic at the start of Mass Effect 2, which went over the events and saw you making decisions in the comic to carry on the story of Shepherd.
Mass Effect has a HUGE sprawling story opening out over the course of the 3 games with well over 100 hours gameplay if, like me, you love getting your teeth into a great Sci-Fi story and getting involved with everything you can. All 3 games have all their DLC included, except Pinnacle Station from the first game due to corrupt code – so if you want to play this one’s DLC, then fire up the original Xbox 360 version!
The 3-game story arc involves Commander Shepherd going up against aliens which hibernate in dark space, and every 50,000 years reappear and cleanse the galaxy of all known life. They absorb races into their collective to gain knowledge, or outright destroy them if they resist. A race from the prior cleansing – the Protheans – knew what was coming and left beacons to be discovered to try and assist with the next cleansing and stopping the Reapers.
It all starts off with you creating your Shepherd. You have the choice of either male or female, the default model for the female being the same one from Mass Effect 3, retroactively put into the first game. So after setting up your Shepherd, you’ll choose your life background from one of three options, which sometimes will come into play during conversations. After this, you’ll choose your class which is where you need to think about how you want to play. Out-and-out soldier, can use any weapon, but is limited to hacking etc when it comes to tech; Infiltrators can use pistols and long-range weapons, plus a host of tech abilities to weaken enemy shields, and so on.
You also have Biotics which are the equivalent to the old mage-type class, being able to lift enemies into the air and other similar abilities. So, you have a choice of class, ranging from a pure weapons specialist to tech/biotics specialists. Any class can use any weapon, but bear in mind that the points you get from levelling up will only be used on the class abilities. Plus, when it comes to levelling up, you now have the choice to stick with the original 0-60 – or the new 0-30 where you will get the same amount of skill points, but at more frequent intervals. You can also choose to auto-level squad mates if you wish.
The majority of the work on Mass Effect Legendary Edition has been done to the first game, as it was looking rather dated. Visually, it has been updated to be on par with the two sequels in this package, with new character models, textures and lighting effects, including HDR if you have a capable TV. The cover system has been updated, as have the gun mechanics, so they’re in line with the later two games. Additionally, on the first game you now have your shield and life bar across the bottom of the screen, with both squad mates pictures and health/shield underneath that making it easier to keep an eye on things during combat. You can also give individual commands to your chosen squad mates using the D-Pad, which is handy for firefights where you, as the player, can lure enemies towards you, while you have your squad mates located elsewhere to flank the enemies.
During battles, you’ll be using both tech and biotic abilities to give you an upper hand. You have the option to manually use your squad mates abilities or set it so they can use them without your input if you don’t want to have to micro manage everything. Outside of the main missions and side missions, you’ll be planet-hopping, searching for minerals and gasses. A lot of the side missions will take you round the star systems, and landing on the planets to deal with something or other. Here is where the Mako comes in: a six-wheeled personnel carrier with mounted rockets and a machine gun. Players of the original Mass Effect on the Xbox 360, myself included, found the control frustrating at times, due to bouncy movements and floaty controls. Thankfully, the Mako on this remaster has had the bounce lessened and the controls sorted out, as well as including a new booster jet to give you a bit extra manoeuvrability for getting over the terrain.
Now, Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 have always looked great, regardless of platform on which you were playing them. Nothing has particularly changed in either game, except for the enhanced textures and lighting and the 4K support spanning across the Legendary Edition. Mass Effect 2, to this day, is still considered one of the best Sci Fi RPGs ever made, and it holds up extremely well. Mass Effect 3, itself, is another superb and final entry to the trilogy, but the ending did upset a lot of players at the time. Both games have all the DLC included, like I have mentioned already, but the DLC is available early in the games.
I do think that Lair of the Shadow Broker should have only been made available towards the end of Mass Effect 2, given it involves one of your crewmates. The same can be said for the DLC on Mass Effect 3. It’s no biggie, and if you have played them before then you instinctively know to play them later. Bringing down the Sky from the first game is a separate story not tied into anyone or any other story arc, so can be played whenever it takes your fancy.
As well as Pinnacle Station not being in the Legendary Edition, the multiplayer has been removed from Mass Effect 3. Now the multiplayer side of things had small missions that upped your galactic readiness. Some of the missions could be done by automated squads where they are away for a certain amount of time before you can send them off again on another mission (much like on Dragon Age Inquisition). Other missions, though, you had to play with other players and completing them upped galactic readiness a fair bit, which all ties into late in the story, and the endgame. So, what Bioware have done is that the more you accomplish across the three games, doing side missions and decisions you make etc., now all adds to this. Hence, don’t just zip through the story arc and think it’s time to head on to the next, as it pays to take it all in.
Once you move on to the next game in the series, you can import your save game from the previous title, which includes crew deaths and decisions you have made throughout the prior game. It even pulls across the Shepherd you created, which you can stick with or choose a different look (different look could be explained at the start of Mass Effect 2 regardless). However, the classes are a bit different on Mass Effect 2, so you will have to choose a new class. You can also go through the PS3 Comic Book (Mass Effect 1 didn’t come out on PS3 till much later), and input the decisions from the first game if you don’t want to import your save.
Finally, the game runs superb on all systems and there is a chart on Bioware’s page, letting you know what performance to expect from each machine. In my case, playing on the Xbox One X, I can run it performance mode which is 1080p 60fps, or visuals at 4K 30fps. I chose to play at the latter, and only noticed some slight stuttering occasionally when in the Mako on some of the really rocky planets. Other than that, not a single hitch and all three games look and play beautifully.
The Mass Effect Trilogy – as well as the newer Andromeda (great once initial bugs fixed) – have always been great games and favourites of mine. You can see how much love Bioware have for the Mass Effect series with the work they have put in with the Legendary Edition.
I can honestly say that Mass Effect Legendary Edition is a masterpiece on so many levels, and should be purchased immediately without delay for new and old players alike.
A big thanks to EA for supplying us with a code for the PC to be able to review Mass Effect Legendary Edition.
- Developer: Bioware
- Publisher: EA
- Players: Single player only
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!