I’m a little bit late to the N7 Day party (I’m always late) but yesterday brought us some excellent news. At long last, the original Mass Effect Trilogy is getting a remaster. This of course means that new players can experience Commander Shepard’s fantastic adventure as he tries to stop the Reapers. It wasn’t Bioware’s first RPG but taking what they had learned from the likes of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire and of course Baldur’s Gate, they created one of the best action games ever. Below, I’ll go through some of my thoughts on the Milky Way Trilogy.
Mass Effect: A Bold New Adventure
I am most excited to see how the original Mass Effect is handled in the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition. As expected, it is the game that has aged the most graphically. On Xbox 360 (the version I have), the game would suffer from framerate drops, texture popping and even random character loads. I still thought it looked great at the time, despite these issues. The game also plays more like an RPG than its successors. It feels closer to Bioware’s Xbox offerings. This doesn’t mean the game isn’t action packed (it most certainly is), it’s just that things such as combat, inventory and stat management, and abilities feel different to the games that came after.
The game, like Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic, has a wonderful range of characters to recruit to your party. As your adventure plays out, these characters will grow and develop depending on your actions. At first, the team can seem indifferent to Shepard but as you interact with them, they will start to open up. Nowhere is this more notable than with Wrex. Tying into this are the wide variety of side missions to undertake. They range from nice little distractions to annoying “fetch-quests” (Mako collecting). On their own, they feel like they’re insignificant, but across the trilogy, they will help to shape Commander Shepard and his world. Speaking of worlds, the main worlds you explore have a decent bit of variety to them, from the frigid Noveria to the chaotic Therum. The opening three planets can be explored in any order you wish and you may encounter different interactions with characters depending on the order you undertake your missions.
Mass Effect 2: A Seismic Shift
Mass Effect 2 is probably my favourite in the series. It takes many of the things that worked in the original Mass Effect and changes what didn’t. The biggest change has got to be the combat. It is much more action orientated, while still maintaining the strategic elements of the first game. Having to reload your weapons instead of waiting for them to cool down is a welcome change that helps to keep you moving. The paragon/ renegade system also returns but it has seen some changes. Now icons will appear during cutscenes, enabling you to make quick decisions. These can often help you in combat. The Mako has been removed from this game, instead you’re dropped off on the planet and must complete a set objective. While this makes the planets feel linear, it helps to focus the side missions’ stories a bit more.
You have an almost new party for your second adventure in the Milky Way Galaxy, with the exception of Garrus and Tali. This means you’ll have to build up trust again with your new crew. You’ll eventually be able to undertake certain missions that are relevant to each character and help to cement their loyalty to your cause. Speaking of loyalty, this is needed, especially if you’re to survive the suicide mission. The suicide mission is an interesting concept. Depending on your actions and ship upgrades, you may finish the game but not in the way you intended. What made this game stand out for me was how the decisions in the first game actually mattered. Rescue a character in a side mission in Mass Effect and they may appear here. It actually felt like this way my Shepard.
Mass Effect 3: A Heartbreaking End
I feel like Mass Effect 3 receives a lot of unfair criticism. Many will point out to how the ending was handled (more on that in a bit) but I think this overshadows some of its great features. The combat has been refined from Mass Effect 2 and I feel it’s the best in the series. Combined with the huge set-pieces and exhilarating gameplay, it feels amazing. Graphically, the game looks superb and the soundtrack is unbelievable (if haunting in places). The game also sees you bring back the majority of the old crew. This doesn’t mean the Mass Effect 2 team are absent. In fact, they can play a massive role in the story depending on your actions from the second game. The side-missions/ loyalty missions have been changed again. This time there are mini-missions (often based on the multiplayer maps) and much larger missions that feels like they belong in the main story.
Let’s not lie, Mass Effect 3’s ending is a bit… meh. It actually led to a load of theories at the time, such as the Indoctrination Theory, as fans attempted to understand it. However, the game does do a great job in giving a lot of characters closure. Many will see their roles play out depending on your actions (or inactions). It’s nice to see how your journey across the three games provides an ending to so many characters, such as Miranda, Garrus, Tali, Wrex and Thane. By undertaking a certain mission in the original Mass Effect, you may get a scene in Mass Effect 3 as a consequence of it. This is something that really stands out. Sadly, it’s also its biggest flaw. As the trilogy had to draw the curtain on Shepard’s adventure, your choices only slightly affect the ending and this is mainly because of the War Room Assets. They can open up different options but none of them ever feel satisfying, which is a bit sad when you consider the wonderful journey you’ve taken across the three games. The last 30 minutes of the game shouldn’t really define the many hours of gameplay that came before it not counting the DLC missions that were available in the three games.
Mass Effect: Into The Unknown
Since Mass Effect 3 was released in 2012, we did get another game in Mass Effect: Andromeda. I felt this game had some potential and the main story was interesting but it got bogged down in awful fetch quests that were everywhere. However, with the announcement of the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, we also got news of a new Mass Effect game. This has me excited to see what direction the series will go in. I’m hoping for a return of what made the Milky Way Trilogy so great, while taking in some of the better stuff from Andromeda. I just hope that this time, the developers will have a little more time to play with.
What were some of your favourite moments in the Mass Effect series? Will you be picking up the Legendary Edition?