Reliving what can be termed as BioWare’s magnum opus, is a privilege. The Mass Effect trilogy (we’re not counting Mass Effect Andromeda or the toss-up with ME3’s ending) is a space opera centered around humanity’s battle for survival in the galaxy and you play the role of Commander Shepherd who’s in the midst of this murky battle. The game’s been out for close to a decade, so we all know who the Reapers are and where they emerge from, so spoilers be damned.
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is simply a remaster of the first three games with updated textures and visuals, a few improved game mechanics and some quality of life changes. And they’ve thrown in all the story DLCs as well as the cosmetics. The developers were careful to not completely change the look and feel of the game. Aside from being ridiculously time-consuming, that would have been a completely unnecessary step. Instead, the changes are subtle and if not, they’ve been made to make the game feel more contemporary. We’re not reviewing the story since we’re already done that in the past here, here and here. Instead, we’re going to focus on what’s new.
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition – Graphics Overhaul
With the Legendary Edition, we see a lot of improvements have been focused on the visuals. Firstly, the game has been remastered for current gen consoles which are all capable of running 4K resolution so all visuals have been upscaled. On top of that, all models have gone under the brush to get detailed textures and decals. All primary characters that you deal with have been spruced up to add more detail. The faces are more distinguishable and FemShep has been reworked a little bit. Skin textures are quite distinct for the alien races. The Asari’s freckles and Drell’s leathery green skin are good examples to look out for. Also, clothing feels like clothing and not like body paint.
Character creation has been tweaked a little. You have additional skin tones, hairstyles and the character creator is the same across all three games. You can even use the character creator code across all three games.
The world has also been polished. We have a lot more sun flares so the game gets that J. J. Abrams look and feel. Game levels that were usually drab and lacklustre have received additional detailing. The original games had a lot of mist or haze no matter which world you went to or whether you were indoors or outdoors. It was as if you had a case of the cataracts. That’s been done away with and you’ll find a lot more sharper textures on models in the world. Aside from that, there are minor changes to vegetation, placement of objects and additional world detailing.
Lighting has improved by a huge margin. We now have multiple sources of lighting and global illumination that makes all the textures and improved visuals come to life. Whether you’re in the Normandy or on an underground level, the lighting feels more natural.
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition – Gameplay Improvements
Aside from the visuals, the largest amount of improvements to the Legendary Edition have been with the gameplay. These have mostly been quality of life improvements. In the pre-launch session, we were shown how the elevator scenes were used by the developers to obfuscate level load times. Since game levels were massive, you’d end up spending a lot of time in elevators. With the advent of SSDs, the need to have long elevator rides has gone away.
The Mako or the off-world terrestrial vehicle had some really wonky controls. The Mako felt way too responsive in the original games, as if the ground textures and gravity didn’t exist. That’s changed with the Legendary Edition. Driving the Mako feels similar to driving a car in any other contemporary RPG. For those who’d miss the wonky-ness, the game does give you an option to roll back to the original controls.
Then there’s the combat system. All enemy and friendly AI has been improved. You will now see a few smarter enemies in the game and your Krogan buddies won’t be blindly running into the enemies without cover every two seconds. The original game was made primarily for the console and later ported to PC, so the weapon controls were … for lack of a better phrase “dumb”. In the Legendary Edition, you get slightly improved weapon handling. For example, your reticle will not bloom to take up a massive chunk of the screen and will be compact. Most enemies will take additional headshot damage so accuracy is rewarded. Moreover, any class of characters can use all weapons in the game without accruing any penalties.
You could play Mass Effect in a tactical manner by commanding your squad mates to perform a set of actions while you went about taking another route, or you could storm into battle guns blazing. For the tactical players, you’ll now get to command each squadmate independently. Also, certain boss fights have been tweaked for newer players.
Multiplayer and Paragon
Barely anyone remembers Mass Effect for the multiplayer aspect of the game. The story was so good that it’s the only thing that you associate with the Mass Effect series. So with the Legendary Edition, BioWare has done away with the multiplayer aspect.
The Paragon system saw improvements from one game to the other, so in the Legendary Edition, all of those chronological improvements have been unified. Now, whether you’re playing the entire game in a sequential manner or if you’re jumping directly into the second or third installment will net you a more unified experience. Skipping the first or second installment will mean that you will find the third installment a lot more difficult to complete but if you take the completionist approach, you’ll find it easier.
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition – Verdict
Mass Effect Legendary Edition is definitely worth your money, especially if you’ve been holding back from starting with the game. It’s the same great story being recreated to match current gen graphics and sensibilities. As for fans, reliving the saga of Commander Shepherd is something every Mass Effect fan would like to do and with the Legendary Edition, it’s like you’re remastering those good memories.
SKOAR! – 9
Publisher: EA Originals
Developers: BioWare, BioWare Corporation
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Played on: Microsoft Windows
Price: INR 3,999