Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: : Xbox Series X , Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC (Reviewed)
Release Date: 14 May 2021
Price: $99,95 AUD – Available Here $59,99 USD – Available Here
It’s not easy to start writing about a game that already has an established fanbase before the release. But how does that happen? Well, for one, the game can be a sequel or a part of the series with an overarching story and gameplay elements. So we already know what to expect there. And it can also be a remaster or a remake, like in this case. But even if you’re not a fan of these games or this genre or this developer or this publisher, you must have heard of the Mass Effect by now. There is a reason why all the similar games that followed were afraid to use the term “the next Mass Effect” or “the new Mass Effect“. No one has replicated it successfully. Some were inspired by it but that’s where all the connection would end. This edition is as monumental as the vast emptiness of space in the game. A trilogy packaged into one and while I’m anxious to from what side to take the first bite, I have to start eventually. So, first things first…
The game takes place in the fictional version of the Milky Way galaxy. In 2148, humans discover an alien outpost on Mars and learn later that Charon (one of the five moons orbiting around Pluto) is an alien artifact known as a “mass relay” that enables faster-than-light travel. After using it, humanity pretty soon comes in contact with other alien species, some far more advanced than us. To a surprise of no one, humanity’s first encounter with other species results in a First Contact War (after all, it’s what we do best), prompting The Council to intervene. The Council is a ruling body of the galaxy, tasked with maintaining peace and serving as a mediator between most of the alien species in our galaxy. They succeed in their task, brokering the peace and ending the First Contact War and soon enough things return to normal. Humanity continues exploring space using the mass relay travel system and colonizing other (uninhabited) planets. Our protagonist is Commander Shepard (race and gender is always determined by you during character creation) who has been recently named the first human SPECTRE (SPECial Tactics and REconnaissance). It’s a term for elite agents with absolute authority and impunity. Kinda like 007 in space. Our task is to investigate a new Prothean artifact (Protheans are believed to be the progenitor race for all species) and after coming into contact with it, Shephard was a vision of war and death across the galaxy. Soon enough, we learn that the artifact is a creation of an artificial lifeform called The Reapers, and every 50,000 years The Reaper comb through the galaxy and eliminate the most advanced species at that point, leaving the younger species to advance and thrive until the next cycle as to prevent constant war and chaos. The latest cycle of elimination is about to happen and we (along with Commander Shephard and his team) try to break the cycle and……..survive. While there might be some nihilistic order and logic in the grand scheme of Reapers’ plan, no one wants to be told they just have to lie down, die, and accept their fate in the process. Our plan and the hope might be futile but maybe there is a way. Who knows.
Whew, what a doozy of a story. You might like it or not, but it’s not a short one by any means. And for me, the story of the trilogy was always a selling point and what drew me into the game. The lore, the character interactions, the world-building, everything. Unfortunately, the same attention to detail was never given to the gameplay. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just simplistic and hardly detailed. You won’t need to spend much time figuring it out and mastering it. At the core of it, the gameplay through all three games follows the basic cover shooter formula. You’re helped with the use of some biotic skills (let’s just call it space magic) where you can stun enemies, make them float in the air, warp to them, hit them, and generally make their intent of killing you way less efficient. The tools of the trade at your disposal consist of the various arsenal of guns, assault rifles, shotguns, and sniper rifles. Throw in some grenades for good measure and that’s pretty much it. In the first game, the armor you find is stat dependant and later on, it’s just visual. After accumulating enough experience points (from killing enemies, exploring the world, and finishing side objectives), you level up and you’re awarded some stat points. You can assign them to certain weapon proficiency, learn new biotic skills, improve health and unlock various weapon skills. You always play as Commander Shephard, aided by the trusty AI of your companions. They’re usually pretty reliable and don’t suffer from the usual AI companion flaws like in some other games. They don’t get stuck, don’t run into the walls and they will have your back when things get serious.
And finally, we get to the meaty part of the cake. Ugh, that sounds horrible actually. What about the creamy filling of the cake? Yeah, let’s go with that. Anyway, the remastering. You might assume that most of it apply to the visual and you would be right. Mostly. The first Mass Effect in this remaster trilogy got some changes in the terms of UI placement, improved UI design, and tweaks of the cover system. And of course, the visual improvements across the board. Depending on how recently you played the original games, the first thing you’ll notice in the first game is the better armor textures, better character textures, and better mako handling (you know that vehicle that gave you a lot of headache flipping over the hills and rolling over every 2 seconds). On top of that, the weapon accuracy has been improved across all three games, all enemies now take headshot damage and all weapons can be used by any class without penalty. The trilogy comes with a photo mode, which is just common sense now, isn’t it? Considering all the planets with different biomes that we’ll visit with our mako, it would be a shame to not put it in the game now. The more you go through the games, the easier it is to spot the improvements. Mass Effect 2 now looks like a game that came out merely a few years ago, with polished environments and better lightning. The last game also received a well-needed facelift, considering how average looked (and sometimes) worse compared to Mass Effect 2. We only had to wait 9 years for it to get better.
This is a section of the game where if you told me that the audio received no improvements, I honestly wouldn’t mind. The music in general throughout all three games was amazing as it was engaging. But this time audio is improved nonetheless and we get the option to skip that long elevator chatter if we want to. Back then we didn’t have those things called SSD, remember? The weapon sounds now also have more variety and you can actually hear the difference between various assault rifles and shotguns. In the end, we can say that it looks good and that it sounds good as well. The ambient sounds that play while I explore the Citadel now have a newfound purpose as notification sounds in my smartphone.
If this is your first encounter with Mass Effect games (and if so, have you been living under a rock this whole time?) then this trilogy is an opportunity of a lifetime for you. You also get a plethora of downloadable content throughout all three games that you had to purchase separately before. No preorder bonuses, no preorder DLC (I’m looking at you, “From Ashes”), and no exclusive costumes. This has all been properly and seamlessly integrated into main games. If you really take your time, we are probably talking about a three-digit number if you want to explore all the content that Mass Effect Legendary Edition has to offer. Sure, you might be arriving late for the party, but as they say, it’s better late than never.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.