Mass Effect has left a profound legacy upon the industry as the leading sci-fi, action RPG that took the gaming world by storm. A tantalising narrative that coerced a generation into an enthralling campaign, in correlation to a cinematic experience that remained unique – if anything unmatched – to what was demonstrated in its era. BioWare had manifested something unequivocally exclusive, on the basis that Mass Effect’s impact could have very will been lightning in a jar. Its prolonging conversation amongst peers within its echo chamber, has proven magnanimous, as controversial. The parlay of disparity in resolve has disparaged discourse for a near decade amongst its fanbase due to an arguable conclusion within its Shepard arc. Yet here we are again, ready to revisit and reacclimate ourselves with the original trilogy in its entirety.
Remastered, re-engineered and revitalised, I’ve been curious but somewhat reluctant to whether the intrepid BioWare were boldly brave enough to once again disseminate the devout with its unworldly rollercoaster. If there’s anything that can be taken away from the franchise, is its inane ability to play with immersion and emotion like a wet clay moulding. A stronghold that encapsulates its audience with strict juxtapose from expeditious succession in each sequence that can cut corners in elation, anger to outright sadness in mere moments. That’s Magic. That’s Mass Effect. Its progressive nuances opened the discourse within our medium, expressing an equality that had been unjust oversight for quite a while. Omitting the damsel in distress for a broad with brass was a gateway to aspiring developers in following a formidable formula.
The trailblazing trio of titles spearheaded the sci-fi genre midway through the XBOX 360 and PlayStation 3’s lifecycle and stood side-by-side with notable AAA action titles of its ilk. While Uncharted was birthed around the same time in Drake’s Fortune, Mass Effect had already garnered critical acclaim from the masses, marking its series as an imperative experience. While its core foundations were built within the intention to release Mass Effect as a PC exclusive, director Casey Hudson had expressed interest in distributing the game for console first after his brief stint developing BioWare’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. BioWare were against the idea of simply lifting KOTOR’s blueprint, and amalgamating a role-player rogue-like experience, rather meticulously re-envisioning a sci-fi adventure that captures a post-modern military like plotline.
Hudson himself confirmed this, stating that his vision of Mass Effect would be to strip KOTOR’s “pseudo-turn-based” like combat, and re-develop its core engine to suit a third-person shooter, much like the already established and red-hot franchise, Gears of War. While Star Wars and Star Trek were both heavy influences to the title, the narrative itself was set to separate itself from conventional tropes that had been mishandled in the aforementioned series, respectively. The desire to countermeasure the fleeting sci-fi cinematic experience, with an interactive presentation was certainly unique in its period, and highly praised by fans and gamers alike. Mass Effect was BioWare’s commitment – its obligation to its fans that not only were they seeking to demonstrate gaming as something bigger than Hollywood, but an epic experience such as Mass Effect could very well shift the perception of our beloved industry to mainstream.
Going back to Mass Effect’s primary campaign can be quite the convincing task. While aesthetic improvements may entice those that have fond memories of their beloved sci-fi, it does pose an aging exposition in delivery. A glaring issue that I was faced with in Mass Effect’s initial iteration, was the robotic expressions from each character in-game. Of course, back in 2012 they worked with the limitations they had to conceive such an adventure in broad scale but had many constraints to work with in terms of the XBOX 360’s hardware. While adjustments have been made, the fundamentals remain and can be quite distracting here. I couldn’t help but notice some lip syncing issues, and the wide-eyed protagonist blankly staring with an almost looming presence. It’s a weird juxtapose to feel such an eerie sensation while trying to admire these character’s heroics.
I will give it its due diligence and note how detailed these remastered models look. Its insane the craftsmanship that has gone into detailing and defining each integral personality. Traversing and hurdling over inanimate objects, hiding behind a multitude of barriers and engaging in combat with a swarm of Husks is again marvellous but can be a tedious task for those unfamiliar with series’ mechanics. The question here is, has Mass Effect aged all that well? That’s hard to answer, or even decipher due to the differing natures of each entry. While the first in its series will seem quite clunky, the second and third will bode an improvement in every facet of gameplay. There aren’t many changes in story beats, nor differences in structure but worldly design is vastly superior from its original state.
War torn worlds and disintegrating areas are visually encumbered by dust and haze which blatantly emphasise light leaks and lens flares in great beauty. The reflections of shields and suits are masterfully evident, but I wouldn’t mind seeing it with ray-tracing implemented. Understanding that this remaster has been built for PlayStation 4 (Pro), utilising a PlayStation 5 will cut down load times completely, making for an uninterrupted and immersive playthrough of the first campaign. Remember those long elevator rides? Gone. While many may have loved the discourse while encased in four sides of steel, the conversation will continue outside while exploring numerous areas, so a semblance of this dialogue remains intact for players to revel in creative adlib made between voice actors. Oh, and my god has aim accuracy improved.
Its moulding may be incomplete in some regards, however the model that BioWare are aiming to re-sculpture is reforming a beguiling destiny.
Mass Effect’s tendency to go off-guard and recoil in terrible ways is no more. I love sprinting out of combat in times of urgency, the choice to commit or flee has been something I had wanted for such a while but does posses the ability to speed-run the experience entirely which I wouldn’t advise. Techniques from the second and third entry have been placed in Mass Effect’s first, such as Squad formation. The ability to command each member respectively is a massive improvement and one I was hopeful they would administer in the remake. While HUD adjustments are made, there’s nothing notable that makes a huge difference here, but to play each title at a stunning 4K/60FPS does make this an essential for die-hard’s of this epic. But I would be remised to note some lacking polish the entire trilogy disposes including; audio levelling issues, character clipping and shaky cinematics. Each can be resolved with simple patches but are exposed in the Legendary Edition’s base offering.
✔️An essential for the dedicated Mass Effect Fan, a recommended for the newcomer.
✔️An unquestionable reimagining that aspires to close a chapter in one of gaming’s most controversial franchises.
✔️It looks incredible. A Fresh coat does this collection wonders.
❌Still plays like a game from 2007.
❌Some pre-rendered bugs, can be patched.
So while the trilogy maintains its primitive presentation, Mass Effect 3’s change is certainly substantial to those that were looking to resolve that one irk that had fans ranting and raving for years. Does it change the dynamic of the title? Eh, sure. Significantly? No, but poses a positive spin on the original. Personally, I never saw anything wrong with ME3’s intended ending, but it’s obvious that I sit within the minority in that regard. The re-release is fanservice personified. A retake – Director’s cut if you will – of what had been left on the cutting room floor. A delight that’s sure to elate fans, but pushes the agenda of bowing to audience feedback. There are appropriate moments to take action, but a remaster may be questionable as the intent to re-release a title is to keep it perpetuous.
While in no way does it break the flow or continuity, it does change some story beats but that’s part of the excitement. I wholly anticipated a rift from the critically-coined “lacklustre” finale that had been the bane of BioWare for a near decade, but I have to admit, it does deliver quite an epic encounter in the title’s final moments. In amidst of Mass Effect’s insane reprisals, the remainder of the experience will have the average fan gallivanting around numerous settings, playing comparison while soaking in its redesign. However, the newcomer will no doubt be playing in posterity of its celebrated establishment in gaming. I can’t say if a stranger to the franchise will walk away satisfied with what’s on offer, but there are far and few between that will understand how and why the series had a significant impact on the industry.
An entire generation of gaming is cemented within the Legendary Edition, with a bountiful offering. Over 70+ hours of recommended gaming comes in this compilation of mind-blowing action, immersive role-playing, engrossing exposition and a leading example in third-person exploration. We’re now lightyears ahead in development and technology that was adorned in these three titles, but Mass Effect’s footprint still garners a scintillating response from its public. When it’s mostly positive, with a slight blemish added to its climax you know that the series will remain a talking piece for decades. While it sustains its grizzled attributes, a few grey hairs that stir here and there, the entire collection still supersedes its primal exhibition by miles. A gorgeous overlay with relatively seamless sequences that aren’t hindered by elongated wait times and its addictive gameplay loop.
Playing the originals through as “Male Shep”, I decided to playthrough the reprisal as “Fem Shep” just to change things up, but to pique my curiosity further in how dialogue and event changes are represented in this anthology. It may pose a contrast in colloquial discourse and romance options, but its been a mirrored playthrough for the most part. While it’s not hard to recommend Mass Effect to any sci-fi connoisseur, the Legendary Edition is most certainly the definitive way to experience this futuristic crusade. Upon completion, I can say that my time with this quintessential collection has been a blast from the past. Its moulding may be incomplete in some regards, however the model that BioWare are aiming to re-sculpture is reforming a beguiling destiny. Take that for what you will.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition is a compilation of the video games in the Mass Effect trilogy: Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, and Mass Effect 3. It is being developed by BioWare with assistance from Abstraction Games and Blind Squirrel Games, and published by EA.