Title: Mass Effect Legendary Edition
Available on: PC/PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Action role-playing, third-person shooter
Whenever anyone has asked me about my favourite games, I would often tell people that I would love nothing more than to completely erase the Mass effect trilogy from my memory. Stay with me while I finish, as crazy as that sounds it would be so I could play it all over again and have the same joyful experience I had the first time around.
The Mass effect trilogy is nothing short of the best game series I have played in my life, and I am certain it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, it has a little bit of everything I want in a game. Space exploration, combat that allows you to manage your team on the fly, and a cast of characters you get to engage with longer than any series I have encountered.
Hearing that we were getting the legendary edition, I was worried we were going to end up in the same situation as we did with Final Fantasy 7 (feel free to read my take on that). Thankfully Bioware stepped up to the plate, pulled back and hit the proverbial home run. This gives us three great games for the price of one and all its DLC wrapped up in one neat package.
Out into the brave unknown
My entry into the series happened in a very odd way. I picked up Mass Effect 2 for no other reason than it was really cheap and I was looking for a decent game as I was just about to go on night shift for 4 weeks. I had heard good things so figured why not. I started it up and played for about 5 minutes and thought, yeah, this looks pretty awesome, I like the characters.
Then you get to the consequences of the previous game, and I quickly found out that what you choose in one game can in some cases change a lot about what happens to characters in the game. I’ll tell you this now without any spoilers, but the default decisions for not playing the first game are the worst in my opinion. I was asking myself who are these idiots, why in Gygax’s name would I pick this guy!
My housemate at the time came in and told me to turn off the game, and that I should go out and buy the first one and play it first. I don’t remember his exact words, but the sentiment stays with me. Remember how I was saying the first one doesn’t look as good as the rest? Playing the first one sets up a lot of the story that is going to see you through the series.
That is not to say the first instalment is a bad game, it’s amazing and considering it was released almost 15 years ago it still looks better than some games that are released even today.
The world in the palm of your hand
Once you begin your adventure you are faced with many choices along the way that will test your moral compass. and the game will reward you based on how you want to shape your Commander Shepard.
You will customise your character and pick a class that will suit your play style, whether you like being a long-range sniper, or more of an up-close and personal fighter. One of the nicer improvements made in the legendary edition streamlined some of the negative effects that came with using different weapons your class didn’t specialise in.
Choice-based systems are something that other games have tried and failed to do in the past, but Mass Effect does give you the feeling that even small choices can come back to haunt you. That said the Paragon/Renegade system is pretty fun and can lead to some hilarious outcomes depending on how you want to be perceived by other characters.
Stealth is optional
Combat is done quite nicely here as you will typically end up in firefights with numerous aliens where you and your select crew will aim to take them down before moving on to the next objective. My only gripe here is that this can get a little repetitive. Each new environment and an assortment of aliens definitely gives a good amount of variety to the encounters, unlike the slightly less than underwhelming spin-off sequel Mass Effect Andromeda with all of its two alien races! (Feel free to read my take here).
Thankfully combat is not the only way to solve your problems and those who prefer the role-play elements can think of more creative ways to continue your journey. instead of going in and blasting up a room full of androids, you might find a way to disable them instead.
My crew is my family
Mass Effect clearly shines in the story it tells and the characters you meet throughout, in each game you will meet a colourful group of misfits who come from all over the milky way. As you would expect from a space-faring adventure, you will encounter all manner of aliens with every planet or space station you end up flying to.
Every character has missions that you can pursue that will unlock more of the character. This will not only power them up and give you tons of experience but will also further deepen the bonds you have with your crewmates. This can in turn can have significant effects down the line, sometimes even one of the later games.
As with many slightly mature games, there will be the chance to strengthen that bond into a romance with certain characters. To their credit, Bioware has leaned into diversifying their characters so much that the options are not limited to what you expect from some AAA games.
Less is more... No, More is more!!
It always annoyed me that certain parts of the game were locked behind paywalls, and especially when this included extra characters. Well, that definitely has a way of souring what starts out as a pretty awesome experience.
So I was amazed to hear that the Legendary edition was going to come packed with all the story related DLC. Not only do you get 3 games in one package here, but you get all the extra DLC content that folks like me had shelled out extra for in order to experience the whole adventure, so you couldn't be getting more bang for your buck than you are with the Legendary edition.
This includes some pretty big extra side missions as well as extra characters, one of which is one of my personal favourites. It still amazes me to this day that there are some folks who have played the trilogy but have missed out on side chapters like the Citadel DLC in Mass Effect 3 which has one of the most amazing storylines in the whole franchise.
To infinity and beyond!
My last thoughts on this would be to tell folks that as much as you will be tempted, do your best to avoid any guides or look up the consequences for your choices. This will let your adventure be your own and not the most optimal way to play the game, I feel like this is always going to be the best way to experience the game.
The original series was a must-own for gamers like myself, so it goes without saying that if you have never picked up any of these games, I can not recommend this enough. So strap yourself in because you are in for the ride of a lifetime!
Play this game if:
You like character-driven adventure games
You want your own starship
You enjoy strange new worlds to explore
You like making choices in games
All images can be found in the Mass Effect Legendary Edition website here.