Nothing gets more dated quicker than video games. What’s hot today can feel downright archaic in just a handful of years, with only a handful of games truly standing the test of time. The original Mass Effect…is not one of those games. Released in 2007, the best thing about the first game was that it was a stepping stone to the far superior sequels that trimmed a considerable amount of janky fat from its frame, hitting a narrative action-packed sweet spot in the process.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition then, is a second chance for the BioWare’s original space opera, one that has lavished the first game with a massive amount of attention. Mass Effect at the time was rough around the edges, a flawed diamond in desperate need of polish as its fascinating story was filled with frustrating gameplay elements and Mako rides that still make N7 veterans shudder to this day.
Does Legendary improve on the original? Absolutely. Is it still a bit of mechanically-wonky mess from time to time? Double-absolutely.
First, the good stuff. Legendary Edition improves a lot of what made Mass Effect a bit of an unwieldy beast, chucking out nonsense class-based weapon restrictions, giving the heads-up display a sleek new makeover, and making aiming your weapon actually feasible instead of relying on pay ‘n spray action. There’s no denying that the game still has a hint of old-gen jank to contend with, but considering that it’s more in line with Mass Effect 2, it’s a marked improvement that hits the bullseye.
Remember the Mako? Remember riding around a planet that was composed of pure Michael Baytanium and watching the vehicle explode if it even so much as glanced at lava over the horizon? Instead of operating like a whale with an eating disorder, the Mako now handles like a proper lunar rover, adding proper lumbering heft to the vehicle that feels more responsive and is an absolute joy to drive now.
The other more obvious improvement comes down to the visuals, which layers on fresh coats of digital paint on the entire trilogy. It’s not next-gen stuff mind you, and some of the character models are definitely relics of a bygone era. but the overall appearance is one of improved lighting, more detailed textures, reduced load times, and a number of more subtle upgrades.
Mass Effect’s trilogy still tells its story with the lip-dubbing grace of a B-grade Kung-Fu movie and some character animations look downright unnatural from time to time, but this is overall a mechanically confident do-over. It’s the small details, that really matter.
Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 have also received their own share of tweaks and toggles, but compared to Mass Effect they feel minor in comparison. What all three games do benefit immensely from is the sheer amount of DLC crammed into the package, which was over 100 gigglebytes when I downloaded it on PS5.
Almost everything is here, including expansive masterpieces such as Lair of the Shadow Broker and Leviathan, while Mass Effect’s Pinnacle Station has sadly been lost to the sands of time due to the source code being in an unrecoverable state. Mass Effect 3’s Galaxy Readiness isn’t available either, with the ultimate fight against the Reapers being prepared for in other ways instead. Also sadly cut from the package is Mass Effect 3’s amazing multiplayer, but at least that omission doesn’t influence Galactic Readiness.
There may be some cuts here, but by the Protheans is there still enough content available to last through several judgement days.
The key takeaway here is that the Mass Effect Trilogy is still an amazing experience to sit through. Millions of gamers have fond memories of the series at its best, and millions more will be sitting down in the weeks and months to come to feel the joy of a successful mission, the exhiliration of a firefight dominated with biotic powers, and the absolute heartbreak of losing a companion that you’d poured hours into learning about and romancing.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition is as definitive a collection as you could hope for. Remaining rough spots have largely been dealt with by new patches, and the tale of a galaxy uniting in the face of a greater threat is one that still easily rivals the likes of Star Wars and Star Trek on any give day. Mass Effect was a series about choices that actually mattered, tangible consequences, and the camaraderie of an unlikely family born in the flames of battle and extinction.
Punch the reporter, make agonising decision, and drop a biotic bombshell, all in the signature style of a series that is now ready to stand the test of time.
Last Updated: May 20, 2021