Mass Effect Legendary Edition review – Legendary games, mixed remaster

Mass Effect Legendary Edition is an ambitious remaster and deserves credit for it. But there are a lot of caveats.

In the Mass Effect Legendary Edition review from Sander you can read whether the three legendary games in this bundle have received a full remaster treatment.

The original Mass Effect trilogy still enjoys legendary status. She catapulted developer BioWare from its status as a relatively niche RPG developer to a studio that delivers blockbusters. While the Canadian studio has not fared so well in recent years after the problems with Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem, the Mass Effect Legendary Edition hopes to safeguard the legacy of its trilogy. The goal, according to the studio, is to offer a unified experience, with especially the graphics and gameplay of Mass Effect 1 being upgraded to the standard of Mass Effect 2 and 3. BioWare succeeds in this, but not without some important caveats.

Visually this is a stunning remaster. Planets are richer in detail, with more grass, details in the rock formations, and additional buildings on the horizon. Characters have a lot more detail in their outfits, such as the buckles on Tali’s outfit or Garrus’ exploded suit. The faces initially seem stuck in the past, but that’s mainly because the differences are more subtle there. In the Legendary Edition, characters have that little bit more emotion in their faces, while the improved textures give them that little bit more personality. The animations and especially the lipsync are unchanged from the original games and therefore look outdated. A remarkable mission since you spend so much time in dialogues. In general, however, the ambition of this remaster deserves a lot of praise.

Mass Effect 1 has undoubtedly received the most attention in this collection and deserves an extra word of explanation. For example, the renewed lighting is immediately noticeable, all the more because the original game was very dark. The Legendary Edition does everything it can to better illuminate the game and the HDR works wonders here. The light reflections on materials and the addition of new light sources such as a bright light on Eden Prime create a much more vibrant world than in the original. That being said, the new lighting sometimes makes everything a little too sterile. After all, the darkness of the original also contributed to the atmosphere, so that the balance between bright lighting and atmospheric dark is now gone.

Other adjustments to the first Mass Effect are not completely convincing either. BioWare says it has brought the game’s combat closer to Mass Effect 2 and 3, but you don’t notice that much in practice. Thus, the cover system still does not work properly. Tomb Raider-wise, you simply have to get close to cover to have Shepard take cover automatically, but just like in the original, that mechanic doesn’t always work properly. Mass Effect 2 and 3 do have a dedicated cover button that works well. It is therefore a mystery why that functionality has not been adopted. The same goes for the ammunition system. This version of Mass Effect 1 still works with a cooldown while shooting, where Mass Effect 2 and 3 work with ammo. The ‘unification’ between the three games seems to apply mainly to the weapon handling, user interface and AI, which is a lot more competent than in the original. Rather subtle differences that do not fully live up to the promises of BioWare.


Mass Effect Legendary Edition review: On the left the remaster, played on the Xbox Series S with a resolution of 1440p, without HDR. On the right the original PC release of Mass Effect from 2007 with a resolution of 1440p. Both games have been downscaled to 1080p. Manage cookie settings

Mass Effect Legendary Edition review: On the left the remaster, played on the Xbox Series S with a resolution of 1440p, without HDR. On the right the original PC release of Mass Effect from 2007 with a resolution of 1440p. Both games have been downscaled to 1080p.

Other changes to Mass Effect 1 have also not been unanimously successful. While the thoroughly revised HUD is more legible and modern, the rest of the menus have remained the same. Since these date from a time when HD was not yet the norm, they are unnecessarily large, unwieldy and not very informative. Loading times are a lot shorter, so you skip the infamous lift sections (but also the unique dialogues in those lifts). Things like improved camera angles or a different placement of characters during cutscenes ultimately show that this remaster has been well thought out. BioWare’s ambition is impressive, even if the adjustments have not always been entirely successful.

In addition, the games themselves remain standing proudly and show BioWare at its peak. Mass Effect 1 and 2 are some of the best action RPGs of all time, with razor-sharp dialogue and characters that help you form a real emotional bond. Garrus, Wrex, Liara, Mordin, Thane … If you’ve ever played the games, it’s a warm reunion with these memorable characters. And if it’s your first time, over a hundred hours of great storylines and difficult narrative choices await you.

This bundle does not contain a lack of content, especially since almost all downloadable content is available for all games. Lair Of The Shadow Broker for Mass Effect 2 and Citadel for Mass Effect 3 remain the outliers. Only Pinnacle Station shines in absence for Mass Effect 1, but the lack is understandable given the corrupt source code for this DLC. In short, Mass Effect Legendary Edition is a very generous bundle.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition succeeds in its basic set-up to bundle the three legendary games and offers the best experience to play the trilogy from start to finish. There are, however, some important comments to make. Although this is a visually impressive remaster, the gameplay adjustments to Mass Effect 1 are not completely convincing. On the contrary, BioWare doesn’t quite manage to align gameplay with parts two and three. Yet especially Mass Effect 1 and 2 remain phenomenal games. The storyline and characters of the trilogy have stood the test of time with flying colors and this is a very generous bundle of content. It’s not a perfect remaster, but BioWare’s ambition still deserves a lot of praise.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition contains three very big games. Sander played both the originals and the three remasters in depth. However, due to the short time between receiving the review copy and the embargo of this text, Sander was unable to complete the three games. We update this review if new issues come to light that could influence the judgment.

For the Mass Effect Legendary Edition review, Sander played on the Xbox Series S. The game will be available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X from May 14th.

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