For years, fans have begged BioWare and EA to remake the Mass Effect trilogy. The long periods of silence and little cacophony caused many to give up hope, but it only made the release of Mass Effect : Legendary Edition that much sweeter.
Sometimes remasters are little more than a fresh coat of paint and make promises they can’t keep. Remasters find themselves in the odd place that they haven’t gotten as far as remakes, but expect them to be more than just re-releases, too. If the remake didn’t do more than slightly improve the graphics, it might fall flat. That’s definitely not the case with Mass Effect : Legendary Edition, though, as it’s everything fans loved initially and then some.
Players will once again take on the role of Commander Shepard, in a galaxy that is about to be destroyed by the Reapers. The strengths and weaknesses are already known to veterans of the series, while newcomers are encouraged to discover these for themselves, so there’s not much to tell about its story. The companions are as cute as ever, whether someone’s favorite is Garrus, Liara, Wrex, Jack, etc. and they all look sharper than ever.
Those who have loved will still love, and those who have not experienced it cannot find a better way. A couple of story beats and Mass Effect companions connect with some players more than others, so overall, playing the trilogy’s story and worldbuilding alone is an easy recommendation. It was a game where players left feeling differently about certain aspects, and still do. What’s striking, however, isn’t what the game is, but how this masterful remake of the series really brings a series released between 2007 and 2012 into 2021.
Looking at all the content, there is no shortage of quality and quantity, making the whole series a higher status than it is today. Mass Effect 1, Mass Effect 2, Mass Effect 3, and all associated DLC can easily put players in for hundreds of hours, but it’s worth every drop of sleep. That’s because the quality of the content is matched by the quantity, and while the three games differ in quality, improvements across the board set them apart from their original counterparts. BioWare has done a lot to smooth out differences in character creation, weapon scaling, etc. but there are still elements that are stuck in the past.
Mass Effect 1, for example, is still a pretty clunky game. Despite all the modifications, Mako changes, etc. it’s still a 2007 game. Aside from a complete remake, nothing can change that, but it doesn’t need to go that far either. Mass Effect 1’s clumsiness in terms of movement, controls, and even Mako is all about adding charm to the game rather than taking it away. Meanwhile, major changes including the cover system, sprint system, weapon handling system, and more have been tweaked to subtly make minute-by-minute gameplay more engaging. The ME1 version of the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is much better than the original, making the 2007 game even more fun in 2021 without sacrificing any of the original charm–even if some of the clunkiness remains.
Graphical improvements in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 really took off, independent of ME1’s technical limitations. If ME1’s graphics overhaul took the game from 2007 to 2021, the improvements here make the game look like a 2021 version with a specific aesthetic. Even though the ME1 doesn’t look as good compared to its sequel, the exact difference isn’t night and day. It’s clear that all the little details of Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 were put under the microscope, and it’s in those games that the Legendary Edition’s strengths are most apparent. While most remasters aim for a fresh coat of paint, Mass Effect : Legendary Edition redesigns the entire house.
This also applies to many smaller changes. Character creation has been simplified so that players look consistent across all three games, but that doesn’t stop major changes to classes or appearances between games. Morals have been made more consistent, reducing some unnecessary stress when making choices in Mass Effect : Legendary Edition, and overall, a lot of changes have been made to close the absolute quality gap between ME1 and ME3.
Overall load times have also been improved, with the option to skip elevator rides added. This makes the game more streamlined and instant. While there are no specific next-gen improvements, the strengths of the PS5 hardware cannot be underestimated. Each match takes no more than a few seconds to load, and the benefit of exiting a match and re-entering it is very refreshing. It reduces a lot of menu frustration when games can be launched instantly instead of navigating through the center menu and then each game’s menu.
Fully including all of the Mass Effect DLC except for Pinnacle Station would just support all of these upgrades, especially considering how many of these remasters are professionally packaged. Of course, there have been persistent or emerging bugs throughout the trilogy, but the bugs we experienced were never overwhelming or troublesome. For the most part, even the most polished version seems like it should contain lots of smaller things. The game crashed us at one point, and one encounter had to be reloaded, but every other glitch was a “blink and you’d miss it” situation.
Overall, Mass Effect : Legendary Edition bills itself as bringing the already popular trilogy to modern consoles and improving it intelligently. The fact that it improves the game without compromising the core experience says something. As of this writing, the first game is 13 years old and the third is nine years old, and Mass Effect : Legendary Edition makes them feel more modern and fresh. It’s hard to imagine the original trilogy getting any better, but these remakes certainly make them pop even more.
Mass Effect : Legendary Edition is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Game Rant reviewed Mass Effect : Legendary Edition on Origin PC’s Neuron 4000D. Origin offers a wide variety of customizable PCs to suit any gamer’s needs. Read more about Neuron here.