Review: Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is a re-release of the original trilogy, fully polished for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One generations. Although the title does not have a native next-gen version, you do reap some benefits, such as more FPS on Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X. How does the trilogy play, now that we are 10 years further?
The original Mass Effect trilogy will go down in the books as one of the best, if not the best Action RPGs of our time. Actually, the original versions of part 2 and part 3 still play fine today. The original Mass Effect, on the other hand, not so. Already plagued with hundreds of glitches and bugs at the time, it made for a tedious gameplay experience. Despite the many mistakes, BioWare still managed to create an unprecedented experience at the time. Proof that gameplay doesn't have to be the most important thing in a video game by far.
Looking at the Legendary Edition which brings three remasters in one package, the original game has received the most attention. And that makes sense. The gameplay has been improved so much in part 2 and part 3 that they can still be played well. They all look a bit slicker in the remaster. 4K and 60 FPS is a joy for Mass Effect. The crystal-clear stars in the sky and taking a slightly different path in your Renegade or Paragon adventure is enough reason to start that 5th playthrough again.
Mass Effect remains intact
From downright unplayable to clunky. That's what you can say in terms of gameplay about the first Mass Effect in the Legendary Edition. And that is, don't get me wrong, a very big compliment. Fans of the franchise can attest to this. Playing the original game was hell. Not because it's a bad game, but because it's a technical minefield. Exploiting the ' Save ' button every 5 minutes was not a luxury because the game could hang itself at any time. A crash, your character being stuck, or simply events that should happen but don't happen, forcing you to reload a previous save file and hope it doesn't happen again.
Everything is fine in the remaster. BioWare has fixed hundreds of bugs in the Legendary Edition of Mass Effect and you'll soon notice. It plays more smoothly, no more hard crashes and the mistakes, at least for me, can be counted on ten fingers. In the 23 hours it took to complete the entire first game, explore almost all the planets and complete 90% of the sidequests I had to reload my previous save file 2 times, NPCs got stuck in the wall about 5 times and something else and there were a few visual glitches. Sounds like a lot, but if you've played the original you'll kill for these 'low' numbers.
A real remaster
Not only is Mass Effect technically much better in the remaster, it also looks a lot better. You can still see that it is a very old game. Animations are clunky and the AI is pretty dumb. But when you consider what they could have done with an old game from 14 years ago? You can only applaud that. It's very impressive. Hundreds of textures have been recreated and the characters are razor sharp in high detail. It is a very nice remaster and as far as I am concerned the new standard for remasters. It's anything but a simple HD or 4K upscale. This is really a remaster.
Suppose we take the Legendary Edition version of Mass Effect as a benchmark for a remaster, then you can label about 95% of all previous remasters of games as 'HD version' or '4K upscale version'. I'm just trying to emphasize that a lot has been done to it, within the limits of the old game, without having to redo everything from scratch. For example, if the engine hasn't changed, the game would literally have to be rewritten.
And the other 2?
So far I've only talked about the first Mass Effect, but in the Legendary Edition you also have Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 at your disposal. As usual, you get to take your character and your progress to the next part to unlock some bonuses. You also pick up the story further, with all the consequences of your earlier choices. Nothing has changed in this, and you still have to import your character first, as before. So you don't necessarily have to continue with your previous character.
There's really not a whole lot I can say about the sequel of the first game. Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 play great in the remaster and they look super slick. It was already a big improvement at the time and it still is. Parts 2 and 3 are a lot better barred than the original game and you'll see that soon enough. Therefore, not much work was needed to make the sequels shine on the current generation of consoles. You can say that it has received a nice polishing.
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is a fantastic deal. You get three remasters for the price of one new game. An absolute nobrainer for anyone who has not experienced the games before. But even as a Mass Effect veteran you can enjoy this, especially the first part, as it is now much more playable. Especially in gameplay and design, the first game often shows its age. The Mako bits are still jerky and the auto-save checkpoints are occasionally whining, but then I'm really nitpicking. After all, you are still playing a remaster and not a remake.
Perhaps the biggest compliment to the original trilogy, and especially the first part, is that it doesn't need a remake at all. An exceptionally written story, driven by the player, with nail-biting suspense and truly impactful choices makes these games still some of the best on the market today. About ten years after release, but much nicer.
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