Mass Effect: Legendary Edition Review

The Mass Effect trilogy is often regarded as some of the finest role-playing in videogame history. The golden age of BioWare, a studio since suffering a decline, Mass Effect epitomises why BioWare was at their pinnacle at the start of the century. For returning fans or new ones, Mass Effect Legendary Edition represents the smoothest, complete, and most impressive way to play this legendary trilogy. Sure, there’ll be purists who prefer to play the original versions but newcomers especially should experience this trilogy in its finest showing yet. On the PS5 and Xbox Series X in particular, it’s a remarkable remaster of the original games.

As far as technical aspects go, players on PC can play up to 240 fps whilst supporting refresh rates up to 240 Hz. Next up, Xbox Series X is the only console version with a 120FPS mode. Console players can toggle between two gameplay modes at any time on all platforms: Favor Quality which prioritizes achieving the highest visual fidelity possible in exchange for a lower target framerate. Secondly, there’s Favor Framerate which prioritizes the highest framerate possible by scaling native resolution and reducing some graphical features. On the base PS4 and Xbox One, this sees the games run at 1080p 30FPS in quality mode and 1080p 60FPS in framerate mode. Conversely, on the PS5 and Xbox Series X, the games run at 4K 60FPS in quality mode. In framerate mode, the PS5 runs at 1440p 60FPS whilst the Xbox Series X runs at 1440p 120FPS. 

As far as content goes, there’s the obvious trilogy of games: Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, and, you guessed it, Mass Effect 3. Further, there’s over 40 DLC from the highly acclaimed Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, and Mass Effect 3 games, including promo weapons, armors, and packs — remastered and optimized for 4K Ultra HD.

The epic space opera begins with Mass Effect which was originally released back in 2007. The main arc premise is as follows: as the first human on the galactic stage, you must uncover the greatest threat to civilization. Your job is complicated by the very fact of your humanity, as no one trusts you and you need to find a way to convince everyone of the grave threat. You will travel across an expansive universe to piece the mystery together. As you discover and explore the uncharted edges of the galaxy, you come closer to an overwhelming truth – learning that the placid and serene universe you know is about to come to a violent end and that you may be the only person who can stop it.

What I find most impressive is just how well Mass Effect holds up in 2021. In fact, after beating the first game in the Legendary Edition, I sat and thought to myself, “they just don’t make games like this anymore.” As the oldest game of the three, it’s also the one that’s had the most work done to spruce it up. There’s a photo mode now too to capture all the beautiful planets and various biomes. For instance, Virmire is the perfect example of a location where I was constantly in photo mode. It just looked downright gorgeous with the new visual upgrade. 

One of the biggest questions regarding the original was whether or not the remaster would fix the janky controls and camera. To a large degree, it does. Though, purists will be relieved to know you can revert to original controls should they so wish. Even with the retouched controls it still feels relatively clunky compared to contemporary shooters but overall it’s a welcome change. Thankfully, the Mako also handles miles better in the Legendary Edition. The combat changes make the most difference and really make for a smoother experience. Though, be prepared to stick it out in the first game before things get better in Mass Effect 2 and 3. 

Personally, Mass Effect feels a little dated to me. Not from a story or character development perspective but from a gameplay mechanics perspective. Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 vastly improved a lot of these aspects and even the Legendary Edition remaster isn’t enough to bring the original on par with the sequels in this regard.

Mass Effect 2 is still my favourite entry in the series and perhaps one of the greatest video games ever made. I really can’t emphasise enough just how much of a triumph Mass Effect 2 is in every department. BioWare already made sweeping improvements in the sequel so the Legendary Edition doesn’t touch the gameplay up much as it doesn’t need to. It’s the same brilliant game as when it launched 10 years ago in 2011 but with improved visual fidelity and all extra DLC content. The fact it comes packaged with the other games makes choices carry over seamlessly and you won’t miss a beat. Truth be told, I slightly rushed through the original Mass Effect remaster so I could jump into Mass Effect 2. 

Mass Effect 2 refines the shooting massively compared to the original and ups the ante with one of the most epic sci-fi stories in the history of the genre. BioWare show themselves at their very best able to create unforgettable characters and a captivating story. The 30+ hours of the main story can only be faulted for feeling too short. I didn’t want the game to end even though the main story arc captivated me through every sequence. 

Mass Effect 3 is perhaps the most controversial game in the trilogy. Whilst it introduced a multiplayer element – one that worked quite well I must add – that element of the game is unfortunately cut from the Legendary Edition. The original also saw the multiplayer element affect the Galactic Readiness scale which impacted the amount of forces that were available during the final confrontation. Nevertheless, this has been tweaked slightly in the Legendary Edition and by subsequent DLC. The re-organised trophies are one of the most welcome changes in the overall trilogy making trophy unlocking a far more seamless experience.

All in all, this is undoubtedly the definitive way to play this legendary trilogy. For series veterans and newcomers alike, this is a must-play remaster. The various gameplay improvements, mostly in the case of the original, make it a smoother experience. The visual upgrades across the trilogy are fantastic and one will get plenty of opportunities to use the new photo mode. The amount of content on offer with the main games and all DLC provides a plethora of content that is, simply, unmissable for sci-fi fans

Score: 9/10