To say that Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is a worthwhile game title to pick up would be an understatement. It is a beautiful update to the aging series that captivated countless players with an epic tale told across three compelling games that tackle morality, civilization, relationships, heartache, and war.
I love Mass Effect and have replayed Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 countless times over the years. Each time, I try to choose different dialogue options, choose different crewmates to join me on certain missions, and seek out new challenges and hidden gems in the series. I want to see every dialogue option and reaction to each choice I make along the way.
It’s the closest I’ve come in my adult years to the old choose-your-own-adventure books I’d read in my childhood. A game where choices I made in the first installment would be referenced or play a functional part in my experience dozens of hours later. For a player like myself, it was as close to a perfect playing experience as any.
A Significant Overhaul
The original Mass Effect trilogy was introduced in 2007 with Mass Effect, a release that changed the landscape of role-playing games. Over the years, Mass Effect has shown its age. It was designed back when 720p was about the highest resolution one could expect on a monitor or television. Of the three Mass Effect titles featured in the Legendary Edition release, Mass Effect received the greatest visual improvement by far.
That’s not to say Mass Effect 2 and 3 were left in the cold. They each received an abundance of tweaks that made them visually more stunning. Playing through the Legendary Edition trilogy felt new again. Not only because of the fresh coat of visual paint, but because the whole experience was tweaked in a way that made playing consistent throughout the trilogy.
Character creation, leveling, combat controls, and many other gameplay elements were consolidated so the experience from start to finish remained consistent. The Commander Shepard I created and commanded on Eden Prime (The first mission of the trilogy) was the same Commander Shepard I ended the series with. This simply didn’t happen in the original trilogy where years of technological advances took place between games.
Combat controls are the most noticeable difference. Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2’s control schemes have been replaced with something more like the control scheme introduced in Mass Effect 3. Now, no matter which game in the series you’re playing, combat and interaction with the environment remain the same.
New Skin on an Old Frame
Aside from its stunning new textures, the Mass Effect play-through made it clear that some things haven’t changed. For one, the low-polygon models used to create rooms and platforms is still quite evident. Boxy ship components and vast empty spaces are abundant throughout the first title.
While the characters are consistently well textured, the face models and armor in the first game remain simplistic in their shape and form. It looks fantastic, but there’s something off about it.
That said, it’s not nearly as difficult to immerse yourself in as playing through the original 2007 release. The textures do enough heavy lifting to make the game feel more modern.
The Same Mass Effect You Know and Love
All this happens without any significant changes to the game’s story or any of the dialogue that made Mass Effect such an incredible series, to begin with. It is the same Mass Effect we enjoyed, only masterfully remastered.
It was a refreshing experience to relive all the old scenes over again with the new 4K textures. Everything felt modern and updated. More real.
What I was most impressed by was the inclusion of nearly all of the DLC content with only two exceptions. Pinnacle Station is not present in the Legendary Edition release due to the loss of the original source code. Also absent are any of the multiplayer elements and DLCs.
Having only played a handful of the DLCs for Mass Effect 1-3, I was in for a treat with the Legendary Edition. Leviathan and the Shadow Broker were especially fun to run through. It added a lot of depth to the Mass Effect universe and gave me some new content that I hadn’t experienced before to enjoy.
Should You Play It?
Yes. The improvements made in Legendary Edition are nothing less than superb. It’s a nearly-perfect conclusion to the epic trilogy that deserves its place at the top of the RPG mountain.
Mass Effect remains, in my humble opinion, to be the trilogy that RPG titles to come after it should be measured against. It’s a masterpiece, regardless of any controversy around its ending. Legendary Edition is every bit the update we needed and wanted.