Become Legendary In ‘Mass Effect: Legendary Edition’The Journey Of a Soldier Becoming Savior Of The Galaxy
‘Mass Effect LE’ massively improves on and integrates the three original Mass Effect titles into a truly legendary experience. Rating:A+Image Credit: Photo Courtesy of Electronic Arts
When I was younger, a video game was a mindless shooter like “Doom” or a fighting game like “Smash Bros,” never before did I ever really care to pay attention to the stories of video games. Not until I happened upon “Telltale’s: The Walking Dead.” I remember coming home from school and deciding to try this new game, and eventually “The Walking Dead” quickly became one of my favorite games. At the time, it amazed me how immersive these stories could be, a game in which the player was able to mold how they wanted the story to end. Every choice and decision would come back to haunt you. Telltale was revered for their writing talent, and story-based games, until they eventually went out of business in 2018. However, while Telltale games were very well written but their choices are often illusions, waving free will in front of the player while guiding them to what is usually only one *real* ending.
Why is this important? Long before the original “Walking Dead” game was released, a choice-based game with RPG elements had been out for almost four years: Mass Effect, the story of a soldier struggling with his mission to uncover the truth of a mysterious precursor race. While on the surface an inconsequential game to the wider landscape due to its lack of popularity, this would be the setup for the whole trilogy which all build up into a legendary conclusion.
“Mass Effect 3”, the final game in the trilogy came out in 2012, only to be followed by a poorly received “Mass Effect Andromeda”, which had nothing to do with the previous titles. So many were surprised and hyped for the release of “Mass Effect Legendary Edition”, which was to be available on both PC and PS4/PS5 and consist of all three original games. Up to this point I had only played the original Mass Effect a few years ago, but I very much loved it, so the idea of being able to finish the trilogy remastered, was an enticing idea.
Mass Effect takes place in an alternative future Milky Way galaxy in which humanity has discovered sentient alien civilizations, as well as devices scattered throughout the galaxy called ‘Mass Relays’, that can launch ships instantaneously from system to system. You take the role of a soldier known as ‘Shepard’, who can be male or female.
The first Mass Effect is the start of Shepard’s career when they are just a soldier on a stealth ship known as the Normandy for the “Human Alliance”, and eventually Shepard makes it his mission to uncover a conspiracy led by a traitor named Saren.
In the two endings of the game, Shepard must choose between two important characters’ lives, and ultimately the fate of the Galactic Council. This ending is the most underwhelming of the three games, probably because it’s just a setup for the next two games in the trilogy, but as it stands on its own it’s the weakest ending in terms of player choice. Though, it is still very well written and satisfying on its own merits.
This first entry is the most awkward of the three, it hadn’t quite gotten the combat system down, which leads to clunky combat controls and with Commander Shepard controlling like a Roomba. While the combat is very fun at times, and the abilities well done, you can still even in this remastered version feel the old clumsiness of the various systems.
However, compared to the un-remastered edition, this game now looks spectacular, I would argue matching up to the graphics of some modern games. This makes the game much more immersive for the player and a lot less silly to a modern viewer. Among these fixes was fixing the model’s faces, making them much more expressive and properly matching it up to the dialogue.
Companions are an important component in the three ME titles. The biggest chunks and emotional moments of Shepard’s story, and what sets them apart from just being some boring action hero is that they have a large array of interesting and compelling characters who follow them in their journey.
ME1 has the weakest companion interaction and dialogue of the three games. Even with the improved expressions, you can tell that it is worse than two and three. However, this doesn’t mean it’s bad, companions in this game are far better written than in even recent titles such as Fallout 4, it’s just that when compared to the more modern ME titles, the original companions are visibly dated in their writing.
The original ME, while being the weakest of the three entries, is still an enticing pull into the rest of the trilogy, and is a very strong title on its own. When I had fully finished this remastered edition of the original, I was very hyped for the next two.
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2 directly follows the events of the first; the game opens with Shepard being critically injured and brought to a Cerberus hospital. Cerberus in the previous game was built up to be a sort of evil xenophobic human force, however, they heal Shepard and recruit them to help stop a mysterious extragalactic force known as the collectors, in his brand new ship the Normandy SR2.
This game contends for the third with the most interactive ending. The final mission is the ‘Suicide Mission’ a fitting title, as any mistake from the player can lead to somebody dying. There are four total endings with a wide variety of variations within them. The player is urged throughout the game to manage their time and to be careful, and it’s sound advice. The greatest strength of this story throughout, however, is the element of Shepard already being considered a galactic hero, which gives unique dialogue and story arcs that we don’t get to see in many games. It’s a good twist on the traditional hero’s story. The sound design, both the voice acting and sound effects are majorly improved in this remastered edition. A major complaint from the original ME2 was the low-quality voice acting and sound effects relative to the year it came out. This has been all but completely fixed in the Legendary edition. This game also includes one of the most popular original gaming songs being ‘“Suicide Mission.”
The graphical improvements are not as major as they were with the first game. However, the graphics are still updated in small ways, especially with the game’s lighting which has had an increase in brightness and better use of shadows which gives it a much more modern feel and looks.
This entry is still a bit clunky when it comes to combat. The class system and RPG elements and UI have been improved, including adding a wide range of new abilities. However, the gunplay is still a bit dated, even with the remaster’s improvements, though this is made up for with the new range of fun weapons such as the black hole gun.
The companions of ME2 are mixed bags. There are the core characters that “Mass Effect” is famous for such a Tali, Liara, and Miranda that have all been majorly fleshed out however present throughout are many companions and characters that serve as one-offs, some of them with interesting dialogue but mostly just serve as fodder for the games final missions. It’s a shame that many of these characters end up being more like interesting soldiers than true companions.
ME2 in this remastered edition offers an interesting twist on the hero’s journey, as well a breath of quality of life changes that really improve on the original, including some changes to the story itself. I could not imagine going back to the original ME2 release after playing this version, and this is definitely a strong entry in the Legendary Edition.
Mass Effect 3
“Mass Effect 3” once again directly follows the events of ME2. Shepard was grounded by Earth’s military in order to put them on trial for some of the indirect war crimes committed while stopping the collectors. However, this is interrupted by a galactic wide invasion from a dangerous and ancient AI collective that seeks to wipe out organic life.
It is important to note here that the game touches on a very sensitive subject, being PTSD. Throughout the story of the game, you can clearly tell that Shepard is suffering from the memories of previously lost companions and soldiers throughout his years of service. The game does a very good job of carefully, and respectfully showing this element of mental health that many soldiers suffer from, and it truly does add a whole lot to Shepard’s story.
The ending of the game is by far the largest improvement in Legendary Edition and has turned Mass Effect 3 from having one of the most infamously hated endings in video game history, to probably among the top tier endings of any video game. There are five possible endings, all being difficult choices and thought-provoking. However, unfortunately with the announcement of Mass Effect 4 one of the endings that the player can choose has been confirmed to be the ‘correct’ ending of Mass Effect.
Sound design, and by extension the music of ME3 is by far the best in the series and contains some of gaming’s most beloved soundtracks, such as ME3s “Leaving Earth.” The gun sounds and dialogue have also been improved for this edition. The dialogue specifically is more finely tuned with the music in the background of the dialogue. Watching original clips of some of the speeches the character’s dialogue would occasionally be drowned out by the soundtrack. It seems that the issue has been entirely patched.
The companions of ME3 are by far the strongest of all of the games. With returning companions from many of the previous games, as well as a few new faces. Each with their own unique arcs and character developments leading up to the final fight. With some new DLC companions as well, all of which have been added with Legendary edition, which incorporates all previously paid for ME3 DLC into the story smoothly, and for free.
It cannot be overstated how much better ME3s combat is compared to the previous entries. Legendary Edition has massively improved on it even still, making vaulting and shooting much smoother. There is also a whole new breath of abilities for the player to use. ME3 is the emotional conclusion to the “Mass Effect” trilogy, and with Legendary Edition improving everything about it from combat, all the way to the very ending of the game this was finally the explosive ending many had been hoping for. Shepard’s journey, every character every moment building up to make a final satisfying conclusion, fully remastered for modern players.
There are many people with deep emotional attachments to the Mass Effect franchise. While I really enjoyed ME1 when I played in years past, I was not an ‘original fan’ of the series who had been playing it since its first release. To me, it was a clunky shooter, with an amazing choice-based story. However, picking up the Legendary Edition and playing through the whole trilogy, the love for the game is something I now understand. “Mass Effect: Legendary Edition”, is truly an amazing game, which takes a colossal amount of time investment to complete, and it is worth it for any gamer to pick up, even if they aren’t original fan of the Mass Effect series.