2007 is widely regarded as one of the best years overall for the games industry. Just about every genre of video game saw a Triple-A title that would go on to be considered as a modern classic. Super Mario Galaxy gave Wii owners a reason to put the Wii Sports disc back in its case. Halo 3 capped off Microsoft’s dominance in the first-person-shooter genre with a bang. And the first Uncharted laid the groundwork for a series that would go on to help shift over 114 million PlayStation 4 units. But there is one title that released in 2007 that managed to breathe all-new life into its designated genre.
Mass Effect released in November of 2007 for the Xbox 360. Developed by BioWare, a studio renowned for producing high-quality RPGs such as Jade Empire and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect was a perfect fit for the 2007 console market. While the first Mass Effect was far from a perfect game, both critics and general audiences understood the clear potential that hid behind awkward controls, long load times and unnatural facial animations.
With Mass Effect 2‘s initial launch in 2010, it was evident from the get-go that BioWare had learned a great deal from the reception of the first Mass Effect. A tighter narrative, a focus on individual characters and their relationship with the player, and an improved combat system saw Mass Effect 2 reach levels of critical acclaim that most developers can only dream of. And while you seemingly can’t go 20 minutes without someone screaming about its ending, Mass Effect 3 is still widely considered to be one of the best Action-RPGs in recent years.
But are they worth playing in 2021?
With the recent announcement that Mass Effect: Legendary Edition (a collection of the first three games) is heading to PS4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox Series X/S and PS5 (via forwards compatibility) on May 14th there has never been a better time to breakdown the Mass Effect series and determine whether or not it is worth playing today, and whether or not this remaster does enough to warrant another playthrough of the series for die-hard fans.
Your First Trip On The Normandy
If you’ve never played the Mass Effect series before then May 14th might be a very exciting day for you. To boil it down to its bare essentials, Mass Effect is a Sci-Fi Action-RPG series that puts you in the big space shoes of Commander Shepard, a human special forces soldier that is tasked with stopping what is basically an alien invasion. There is so much more to it than that but the plot of the first game alone would take up the word count of this entire article. All three games use third-person, cover-based shooting mechanics and utilise a bevy of RPG-mechanics like skill-trees, a morality system and an emphasis on dialogue choices that impact the story and eventual outcome of the game.
For first-time players, that first Mass Effect game can be a very rough experience now. As mentioned up top, the combat mechanics, facial animations, and load times were already a downside back in the day. Now in 2021, a Mass Effect cutscene looks more like Play-Doh attempting to lip-sync than an intense climactic fight between the saviour of the galaxy and an alien zealot. This is where the Legendary Edition is guaranteed to shine.
Just from taking a brief glance at the recently released trailer, it is clear that Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is primarily focused on making that first game shine just as brightly as its sequels. Because of its age or its flaws or a whole number of reasons, the first Mass Effect is usually skipped by those looking to get into the series. Hopefully, with the new visual updates and combat reworkings, the Legendary Edition will restore the first Mass Effect to its former glory, making it a worthwhile experience when compared to 2 and 3.
The Mako gets a face-lift in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition. ©:Electronic Arts/BioWare
Those who have never played the Mass Effect series before are about to have the opportunity of a lifetime. Much like the Master Chief Collection did for Halo, Mass Effect: Legendary Edition looks like it will be the perfect place for new players to discover a beloved franchise. Even if you completely disregard all of the new gameplay tweaks and graphical updates, the Legendary Edition is an easy way to get all three Mass Effect games in one place, for a decent price. At about £50 RRP, that’s only £16.70 per game. Even if you end up waiting a few months until it’s on sale, you owe it to yourself to at least try this series. Its unique blend of intense action and engrossing character-focussed dialogue is enough to warrant at least one playthrough in 2021.
One Too Many Laps Around The Mass Relay
So what about those of us who have already played Mass Effect to death? Is the Legendary Edition actually worth the price of admission or should you just rake out those old Xbox 360 copies again? Well, the answer might be a little more subjective than you would expect.
Let’s start with what the Legendary Edition actually brings to the table. The collection is set to make a range of quality-of-life improvements across all three games that will hopefully make the series blend in seamlessly with modern Triple-A franchises. Cosmetic customisation is now the same across all three games, allowing you to keep your Shepard looking exactly how you want them for the entire series. Pairing this with the graphical overhaul of the first game is sure to make the series feel much more connected on the whole, making that jump between Mass Effect 1 and 2 a little less jarring than it is right now.
The collection also includes all of the DLC for each game, excluding the Pinnacle Station expansion as allegedly the files have been “corrupted“. If you’ve never played the DLC before then this might just be the thing that sways you into buying the Legendary Edition as all of the DLCs combined add up to a total of at least another 30 hours of gameplay, and an enjoyable and substantial 30 hours at that.
But not everything in the Legendary Edition is an improvement. Mass Effect 3‘s co-op multiplayer is not included in the collection. While this is unlikely to affect anyone’s purchasing decisions, it is a bit of a dissapointment for those of us who have a lot of nostalgic memories of taking down waves of Geth with friends.
Mow down waves of husks with a new, graphically-improved Omniblade. © Electronic Arts/BioWare
For a lot of us, we’ve probably already experienced everything that Mass Effect has to offer. We’ve played the DLCs, gone through both Renegade and Paragon paths, and tried all of those traffic-light endings in 3. And while the Legendary Edition is making some light improvements to the sequels, it seems that the first Mass Effect is the only one that is being truly “remastered”. Despite the lovingly recreated experience, it is still going to be practically the same series of games that you’ve already played.
So it really comes down to you. If you, like a lot of us right now, are desperately seeking your next fix of nostalgia then this looks like it’ll do the job spectacularly. Similarly, if you haven’t played Mass Effect since it came out then you may want to discover why you fell in love with the franchise to begin with. But only you can decide if Mass Effect: Legendary Edition has a place on your shelf in 2021.
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition will be available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and PC from May 14.
Words by Cameron Swan
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