Mass Effect Legendary Edition releases this week from EA with significant improvements and performance modes across all consoles. Mass Effect was a series that defined the seventh generation back in the day especially for Xbox users, as the first title released exclusively on Xbox 360. With the release of the Mass Effect Legendary Edition, players who missed out before will finally be able to experience the critically acclaimed series in all its glory.
First off, Mass Effect Legendary Edition is quite the big boy, clocking in at a whopping 100+ gigs for all three games, so prepare your hard drive for a beating. Nevertheless, this latest release consists of three games, so it’ll definitely be worth your time and hard drive space.
Our Mass Effect Legendary Edition review in progress will be us sinking our teeth into the first few hours of each game to give you our impressions before you take control of Commander Shepard. I’ll be going into detail for each game and go over mechanics and specific gameplay quirks and design.
One thing to note in Mass Effect Legendary Edition is that the autosave feature may be unreliable, so if you’re planning to jump around the titles, I won’t stop you, just manually save your progress to prevent any data loss. Personally, the best way to experience the game would be to go through every game in order and carry over your progress. If you’ve played the game before, you probably already know that, but it’s always good to be reminded.
Mass Effect — Still feels a bit dated even with the makeover
From first impressions, much work has been done to give the first game the makeover it needs to cover the cracks brought about by its time, similar to how Mass Effect 2 really gave the series a overall jump in visual quality when it first released.
Depending on how much you spend with the story, there’s a bit of a expository drag that happens here especially when you meet with Captain Anderson and sortie with your initial party. It really starts out a little slow to build the world but once the action begins, you may immediately notice that they’ve improved the shooting mechanics and the sensitivity that was missing from the original, as far as I can remember.
Using cover and giving orders to your party members have definitely been improved, but it takes a little bit to get used to the old school controls especially when you’re switching between your weapons on the weapon wheel. Funny enough, this mechanic is consistent throughout the first two games of Mass Effect Legendary Edition, and is something that could have benefitted from an overall quality of life upgrade.
Using powers can also feel a little rough pulling up the power wheel and selecting the power during the heat of the battle. Maybe I would need to go through a secondary learning curve, but there’s a bit of a snag when I tried to acclimatize to the game mechanics again. The equipment screen has been improved a bit and it felt like the equipment screen from the later games.
The hacking override function in Mass Effect was a welcome return of a nostalgic mechanic, which we’ll see more of in the following games. The dialogue wheel also makes a return, which is one of the better implementation of choice-based dialog in similar games, making it easy to choose your alignment as the game progresses. Since I remember going Paragon before for the rewards, I feel that I’ve earned to be a Renegade in this playthrough.
The controls and the interface of the Mako have been ported from Mass Effect 3, but I personally had no issues with the Mako back in the day, so either way, Mass Effect Legendary Edition cleans up pretty well on this aspect. I do prefer the planet scanning feature on Mass Effect 2, so I’ll get the best out of both worlds with Mass Effect 3. At least we still have the space exploration aspect intact and it’s great to dive back into the fold.
After a while, the game starts to show its age. The loading times are decent on the PS5, but as someone who’s been spoiled by almost instant load times in other optimized titles, it’s starting to feel a little slow whenever I run into loading screens. The good thing though is that the elevator loading sequences load a lot faster, enabling you to skip past dialogue and news reports (which add to the world building to be completely honest).
Mass Effect 2 — Still the classic that we remember it to be
A good reason to finish off the first game is that you get to play what is arguably the best game in the series. Once you start with Mass Effect 2, you may not want to go back, because it is a massively improved game in terms of shooting performance and a much better cover system. While I remembered being turned off by the lack of RPG elements when I started Mass Effect 2, I appreciate why they went in this direction today.
The biggest difference between the two games is the seamless nature of how the story flowed. Mass Effect hits a few expository snags while Mass Effect 2 got around that by filling in Shepard during action sequences. What we get is a really comfortable flow pushing the story forward and motivating you to push through the story without getting lost in the rich lore or being bogged down by expository dialogue.
Again, I have to remind myself that it is a game from over ten years ago and I feel that most of the shooters with powers that release today follow the playbook that has improved the overall experience significantly. I feel that selecting the weapon on the weapon wheel and then confirming with the cross button feels clunky, yet Mass Effect 2 is more fast-paced so it is forgivable than its predecessor.
Mass Effect 3 — Love it or hate it, it had the best shooting in the series
Mass Effect 3‘s ending is the most divisive amongst the trilogy, but one thing that many fans and players alike forgot is that it had the best quality of life improvements when it came to its gameplay mechanics. Out of the three games, it has the best shooting, a more fluid power wheel, and seamless transition from story to battle scenes.
Mass Effect 3‘s response time to controls are as smooth as they come and have the best rumble implementation. The cover and shooting system has been carried over from Mass Effect 2, as well as blending the role playing elements that made Mass Effect 1 stand out.
Considering that this is a remaster, I appreciate how this part of the series in Mass Effect Legendary Edition has the most polish and feels the most complete. Also selecting a weapon from the weapon wheel here feels more organic. The introduction of the weapon weight to power recharge mechanic has been introduced here and fully perfected in Mass Effect Andromeda. I wonder why they couldn’t streamline this system for the whole series.
Story-wise it cuts to chase faster than the first two games and really takes it up a notch as Reapers make their way to bring the fight to Earth. The stage is set for an epic battle and I remembered being excited to get through the game right away to its many memorable set pieces. There’s no semblance of multiplayer anywhere, but getting to play all 3 titles through this collection is more than enough.
An edition worth its legendary status?
Mass Effect Legendary Edition is a welcome return trip to the Normandy, giving you the classic feel of the games with some modern updates to make the newer players feel comfortable. These games (maybe with the exception of Mass Effect) feel like games that have just been released recently, and both Mass Effect 2 and 3 have aged quite well despite it being over 10 year old games.
Were we just smitten by nostalgia or have the games aged like fine wine? Watch out for our full review soon as we go through each game in the Mass Effect Legendary Edition and see if it matches our impressions.
*Mass Effect Legendary Edition was previewed on a PlayStation 5 via a copy provided by the publishers.