Influential and poignant, the Mass Effect Trilogy has left a lasting impression on gamers, advancing the impact of choice in games and proving that personal connection connects gamers to the overall experience. It could have been a story simply about saving the galaxy, but BioWare has created a rich and complex world full of unique and realistic perspectives that took into account the difficult choices that must be made. With the fate of galactic civilization on your shoulders, nothing has been easy in Mass Effect, and that’s part of why the show still resonates with people all these years later.
The Mass Effect Trilogy is a must-see gaming experience, which is why finally having a remaster is such a big deal; not only in terms of maintaining the legacy of the series, but also allowing players to easily access and play the story as it is meant to be played with its DLC. While not a perfect remaster, BioWare did a great job of updating Commander Shepard’s adventure to make it a better and smoother ride over Normandy, and not just in the visual department.
The first Mass Effect received the most attention, which makes sense considering the game is now a teenager and hasn’t aged well. Even when it launched in 2007, the first game was tough around the edges, as BioWare was still trying to figure out how to balance action play with role-playing systems. Mass Effect’s unique sci-fi future has always trumped any flaws or frustrations, but going back to relive those great moments came with a few unfortunate caveats. With the improvements in the remaster, that is no longer the case, and I enjoyed playing the first game in the remaster much more.
Many mechanical aspects have been changed here, from removing class-based weapon restrictions to providing a more modernized HUD, but some changes seem more significant than others. For example, the new Mako controls made a huge difference in my enjoyment of the game; the traditional forestry vehicle steers better, moves faster and has better aiming mechanics for shooting. I was afraid to jump in that six-wheeled vehicle of chaos, but it all dissipated thanks to those softer controls.
Speaking of better controls, ME1’s shooting is much improved and closer to ME2 gameplay, with smoother targeting and all types of guns come in handy right off the bat. You won’t forget that you are playing an old quasi-shooter, but it makes that first game much better. The visual improvements here hit the hardest, especially the details added to the lush surroundings, which now have richer vegetation, new particle effects, and improved lighting. The structures of these levels haven’t changed, but the way they’ve been visually improved makes them a lot more interesting to explore and I stopped to admire the sites more than ever.
The visual improvements aren’t as great in ME2 or ME3, but overall everything looks better. Enemies and alien species are the biggest beneficiaries, but the age of the trilogy is evident in the poorly synchronized human faces on the lips. However, characters like Miranda look more natural, thanks to better lighting and more realistic makeup alongside her fuller hair. Additionally, most armor and casual clothing has better shine and realistic creases, especially on characters like Tali and Liara. These may seem like little details, but they are noticeable, adding to the immersion and just making the games look better.
Plus, better camera angles help scenes feel more organic, but unfortunately some flaws persist from the original entries, like characters with stiff movements or awkward mannerisms. You also still see the occasional technical hiccup; I have experienced a few stutters, jellies, and examples of Shepard getting caught up in geometry. Also be aware that while loading times are reduced (especially in elevators) they are still a bit longer than we expected today.
Part of the fun of having the entire trilogy easily accessible in one place means being able to play the games back to back and see the evolutions and improvements between entries. I really enjoyed being able to create a Shepard in ME1 that I could take through each game and not have drastic differences in how it looked between each game, adding a sense of cohesion. The new options for customizing your avatar’s look aren’t great, but I liked the more natural hair textures. A new photo mode also allows you to capture your favorite moments; it’s pretty standard and gets the job done, but filters are limited.
Another great aspect of this package is that it contains most of the DLC, such as notable sites like The Citadel, Lair of the Shadow Broker, and Leviathan. Unfortunately, The Pinnacle Station is not included due to the inability to retrieve the source code, and BioWare has chosen not to transfer Mass Effect 3 multiplayer at this time. The latter is the most glaring and disappointing omission. At the very least, the progression of Galactic Readiness in single-player mode is no longer tied to this.
Even all these years later, Commander Shepard is a powerful force that lives up to its iconic status, and the trilogy is still captivating and worth your time. The Legendary Edition offers a great way to experience this powerful story, adding just enough improvements to provide a better experience while staying true to the original. If you’re a longtime fan or haven’t had the chance to play any of the game’s flagship franchises, this is a wonderful way to do it.
Seeing your choices spill over three games is thrilling, but it also applies to the teammates you meet along the way. So become Commander Shepard, rally people to your cause, make extremely difficult choices, and watch others around you grow stronger through your influence. The sacrifices and the rewards will be remembered forever, and the Legendary Edition is a great reminder of why all these years later people still keep talking about this series.
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