The classic sci-fi trilogy has returned better than ever in the Mass Effect Legendary Edition. If you are a fan of action RPGs the Mass Effect series is an absolute master class example of what the genre can be. It is easily one of my favourite gaming series of all time, there’s just so much to love. The game’s universe is vast, with deep fleshed out characters and rich lore in each new world you discover. The original developer, Bioware, has returned with a team of developers in Abstraction and Blind Squirrel Games to deliver a remastered experience in the Legendary Edition. This definitive collection of the games packs all three titles, 40+ pieces of DLC content, upgraded 4K visuals, UI improvements and more. Let’s board the SSV Normandy and explore all that the newly reimaged universe has to offer.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition Details
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One / Xbox Series X | S and PC
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Developer: BioWare, Abstraction Games and Blind Squirrel Games
Publisher: Electric Arts
Genre: Action Role-Playing Game
Modes: Single Player
ESRB Rating: M-Mature (17 years and over)
The Legend of Shepard
The galactic tale begins in 2148 CE, when humans uncover ancient ruins on Mars. This discovery leads humanity to being able to understand Mass Effect Physics and Element Zero. They use this knowledge to harness “faster than light travel” allowing humans to venture deeper into space than ever before. This, in combination with the Mass Relay Network unlock warp travel across thousands of light years, opening new frontiers for discovery across the galaxy.
Fast-forward 35 years to 2183 CE and you’ll be suiting up as Lieutenant Commander Shepard. You are an elite human solider who must work to stop a highly advanced alien threat known as Reapers. In the role of Shepard, you make critical decision that impact the fate of the galaxy and how the story progresses across the entire trilogy.
The total package
Mass Effect Legendary Edition includes three full games:
- 2007’s Mass Effect
- 2010’s Mass Effect 2
- 2012’s Mass Effect 3
You can play each game in any order that you wish, but I highly recommend starting off with the first game. It makes sense, as it has seen the most upgrades out of the entire series. The Legendary Edition not only includes all three games, but it also comes packed with plenty of extras. Over forty pieces of downloadable content including exclusive weapons, armor and packs have been added.
Mass Effect: Genesis
If you decide to skip forward in the story Mass Effect: Genesis has been included to bring you up to speed. As you begin Mass Effect 2 or 3 the interactive graphic novel summarizes the story so far and lets you make major decisions in the plot. These choices will impact the next Mass Effect game you are about to embark on.
Good and evil
In terms of story arcs, there are plenty of options in how you assemble your crew and the critical decisions you make. All three games have a morality system and depending on your choices you might lean more toward Paragon or Renegade, essentially good vs. evil. If you often commit acts of heroism or compassion, you’ll align more with Paragon. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Renegade, you’ll generally be disliked or even feared. This comes from making apathetic and ruthless choices. The game’s universe, characters and storyline change dramatically depending on which path you choose. This really adds to the replayability of Mass Effect Legendary Edition.
A universe reimagined in 4K
The entire Mass Effect trilogy translates quite well on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The majority of this review was conducted on the Xbox Series X, but at time of writing the game has not been optimized for next-gen consoles. Digital Foundry’s deep dive analysis of the games found the the Series X delivers the most stable overall performance at 60fps. During my playthrough of each title I didn’t notice any large dips in framerate that detracted from the experience.
All the games have been given a 4K Ultra HD facelift, along with enhanced models, shaders, lighting and depth of field. The titles in the Legendary Edition that has seen the most work is 2007’s Mass Effect. The first game in the series has seen the most pronounced changes in user interface and overall graphical improvements. The character animations are still a little stiff and robotic, but it has come a very long way.
Build a better Shepard
From the start of the game, you can customize your Shepard avatar like never before. The Legendary Edition has an all-new unified character creator with improved hair, makeup, eye colour and skin tone options that carry over between games. You can also play as the legendary Femshep from Mass Effect 3 across all the games, a very welcome improvement.
Literally hundreds of small improvements have modernized player controls across the trilogy. These range from weapon accuracy, enemy rebalancing to inventory streamlining and more. It all adds up to a more fine-tuned satisfying experience.
Weapon types for all
One of the biggest changes is that all character classes can use any weapon type without penalty. There are no longer arbitrary restrictions in which armaments you can battle with. This, in combination with other combat tweaks add up to more fun, action packed sequences.
The sound design has been left relatively untouched when compared to the visual overhauls in the trilogy. This is a good thing in my books, especially with such a stellar soundtrack to begin with. The biggest changes in audio are in the original Mass Effect. Sound effects have been redone to bring closer parity with Mass Effect 2 and 3’s high quality audio. Along with this, many of the cutscenes have had their levels rebalanced to bring greater continuity across the experience.
Whether you are new to the series or making a return Mass Effect Legendary Edition is an incredible experience. Bioware has listened to fan feedback and carefully crafted an homage worthy of the original that leaves the best parts of the Mass Effect formula intact. From graphical upgrades, gameplay improvements and the inclusion of all extra DLC this was a labour of love to restore a classic for a new generation. All these improvements make it pleasure to be back in the Mass Effect universe, I can’t wait to see what’s next for the series.
+ Epic sci-fi storytelling
+ Captivating universe
+ Upgraded graphics modernize the experience (especially in Mass Effect 1)
+ Gameplay is greatly improved over original
+ Mako sections have been fixed
– Some character animations still look dated
– Original technical flaws still present
OVERALL ASSESSEMENT OF MASS EFFECT LEGENDARY EDITION
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5
Overall Rating 4.3/5 (86%)
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