Mass Effect Legendary Edition Review

Warning! This review is legendary (and quite long!)

The Mass Effect legendary edition collects all three of the mainline Mass Effect games remastered and tops it off with ALL the DLC. This is a lot of GAME, in fact for the completionism expect over 70 hours to complete all content! Playing these three games has never been better with updated visuals, lighting, and a stream of other gameplay improvements. Playing as Commander Sheppard as he/she fights their way to defy the fate of the galaxy from the potential threat of the reapers. On their journey, the player will be in control of the starship Normandy and some of the best crew members a captain could ask for. These are the games Bioware was known to make!

Mass Effect 1

The first game was released way back in 2007 and has had the most work done of the trilogy. The game has improved graphics that tries to get a look of the sequels. All of the models have been enhanced and the game has a heap of quality-of-life improvements that make it the best version to play. There is a heap of customisation options with complete Gender choices that change the game. The player can take on a male or female Sheppard which are both completely voiced. For this time around I opted to play as Female Sheppard and was incredibly happy I did so! 

The story of ME:1 sets up Sheppard’s grand adventure across the galaxy as they hunt down Saron and learn of the threat of the reapers. Along the way Sheppard gains crew members that showcase the strength of the games writing and talent of Bioware. Gurus the Turian, Wrex the Krogan and everyone’s favourite blue alien, Liara the asari are just some of the unique cast of alien crew members that make it so enjoyable. The story of ME:1 is engaging from start to end with so many choices. In fact, I convinced a friend to buy the game, he was shocked that at a key point you could potentially KILL an especially important crew member. This decision would impact both future games taking them out of the story. 

The games choices are something of a marvel as each follow up game remembers key decisions. As I just stated, key characters can be killed and removed from the plot of the game going forward. This allows no two players to experience the exact same things over the cause of these three games. There is an excellent codex that allows people to explore deep into the lore, with the many races I advise to read it. There are a number of explanations that dig deep into the Asari and Krogan races that give really good backstories such as the Asari race consisting of just females and living lifespans of 1000 years and the Krogans suffering from a dying virus that does not allow them to reproduce. 

While the story is a highlight, the gameplay has a lot of features that see improvements. Players should understand that this is essentially an upscale of a 2007 game. Much has changed since its released. There are no Ammo to find, each gun has a cooldown. The game pits you in a tank which can get repetitive and its rather dull.. This can get a bit stale and towards end game. I also felt very overpowered towards the last act of the game. There are a number of weapons, but I felt very overwhelmed at the AMOUNT of loot and often times picked up too much rubbish that cluttered my inventory. While these outdated gameplay mechanics may make players skip ME:1 I would defiantly not do that. The first game sets up much of what is to come in the series and a lot of the choices play an excessively big part in ME:2. The complete experience comes from starting a character in ME:1 and importing them in each sequel. 

Mass Effect 2 (2010)

I remember when Mass effect 2 released to critical acclaim in 2010. It was heralded as one of the best games of all time on release. 11 years later this game is still a masterpiece and has never looked or played better. The opening to ME:2 is simply an amazing action set piece that sets the complete tone for the whole adventure. Picking up from the end of ME:1 Commander Sheppard faces off with arch-rival Cerberus (a few side missions in ME:1 have you hunting down Cerberus bases, so its nice to work with an organisation as grey as Cerberus) led by all mysterious Illusive Man who sits on a chair near a large sun?

Sheppard must fight his way to destroy a new threat; the collectors and thus needs to amass a large crew of interesting characters to join his/her fight against the all-powerful aliens. On my first playthrough in 2010 I remember the game being incredibly fun but as I did not play ME:1 I was utterly confused at a few points. Having said that, ME:2 acts well as a middle game to a trilogy. The reapers are talked about, but this entry is all about stopping the collectors from taking over.

A large portion of the game is spent finding crew members, this is a highlight of ME:2 as each of the crew members are well developed and come with their own loyalty mission. These missions act as engaging side quests that expand on the characters lore, they are a must to complete if you wish to survive the games final mission. Without spoilers, everyone can die in the final mission which will see ripple effects if you transport the save game over to ME:3. Each of the loyalty missions are a delight to experience as you get to help the assassin Thane change the mind of his son who has gone down a dark path, find the blue alien Asari Samaras daughter to seduce her leading to siding with her or killing her or help Miranda find her sister with a dark family past. These are three of a totals of 13 squad mates that all have a mission to explore. 

This time around Ammo is back (An incredibly wise decision) and the gameplay is a lot more refined. If ME:2 was released this year I would not have bothered to think twice about it. Enemies have shields which require a certain gun or biotic to take it out, sometimes they have armour which requires another gun. This makes each encounter almost like a puzzle. The game also boasts a large number of DLC which adds a heap of missions and two new squad mates (each with their own loyalty missions). 

The paragon and renegade system provide the player with a lot of options this time around. At certain points Sheppard is given a Paragon or renegade option and with a click of a button you may respond. I never felt locked to one or the other and at times felt like a complete badass! There were a number of times I could calm a person down with persuasion choosing the paragon option making a crew member not become a killer. Or I could shoot first if someone were in my way thanks to the renegade option.

My only criticism in ME:2 is that for a lot of the game, you are locked into having only a few weapons at your disposal. After ME:1 cluttered system it seems someone decided this time around there will only be so many weapons. This does impact that first part of the game if your locked to mainly pistols. The game also sticks to what it does best and that is shooting lots of enemies. The stages do not drag on but by the end I was finding the gameplay loop a bit repetitive. Nevertheless, this is a stellar game and one everyone should experience.

Mass Effect 3 (2012)

The reality of Mass Effect 3 is that it is a bit of a dark horse in this trilogy. It looks the best, plays the best but there is something that just not feels right about the direction of the games story. This is by no means a bad game but there are a number of times I felt that stages went on for too long. And rather than the engaging story of ME:1 and ME:2 and all the build up to the fight against the reapers. I could not help but feel a bit let down…

The story opens not as strong as ME:2 and considering the reaper invasion has been built up over 2 games I did expect a lot more. It seems like there is all the time in the world to gain allies and stop the reaper invasion of earth. This time around instead of loyalty missions the game has a lot of side mission (the menu could have seen improvements it does get cluttered) and the goal is to gain every race in the galaxy possible to stop the reaper invasion. 

The story slows down, and I never felt urgency which was strange considering how important this entry is. I know this seems like a lot of criticism and the game is good, but that alone is the problem. Mass effect series prior to ME:3 was a brilliant series that had excellent direction and immersive story content. 

The crew in ME:3 is a bit of hit and miss, some characters like James are no where near as engaging as some of the colourful cast of ME:2. It is nice to see the return of mainstays like Garrus and Tali and everyone’s favourite blue alien, Liara. The side missions of ME:3 Provide a nice insight into the crew of ME:2 if you were able to keep them alive.

The gameplay improves on most of the short comings of ME:2, there are a lot more customisation options, more guns to pick and biotic powers to explore. It does feel that a lot of the RPG factors are replaced with more action centric gameplay which may disappoint some people. The DLC adds in some interesting missions with Citadel: Shore leave being a standout that is both flashy and a nice send off to the complete cast of the series.

On release there was a lot of controversy on the ending. Not delving into spoilers, Bioware opted to include the extended cut DLC so players will experience the improved ending. By the closing credits most players will be exhausted from hours of gameplay (close to 70) and a sense of satisfaction in being commander Sheppard.

Final Thoughts

One of the standout moments for me in the trilogy was when I was in ME:1 I gave an interview to a reporter. This reporter went to defame me to everyone at the citadel over the speaker so everyone would hear. In ME:2 they wanted another interview, and I had the Renegade option so I chose it. Sheppard punched the reporter in the face knocking her out. It was a very satisfying thing to see. In ME:3 I saw the reporter again and this time had the renegade option yet again, I clicked it and to my surprise the reporter dodged and said “I am not falling for that again” the renegade option came up once more which I pleasantly clicked, Sheppard did a head butt and the reporter was knocked out cold. Its moments like this that span three games and an imported character (with all their decisions) that make the mass effect games so unique and a must for RPG fans and sci fi fanatics to explore!

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