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I’ve never really played Mass Effect, does the Legendary Edition hold up to current standards?

The series started 14 years ago – does the new Legendary Edition improve on anything?

Mass effect legendary edition
Image: BioWare

The original Mass Effect launched almost 14 years ago. At that time, I was getting ready for the birth of my first child and playing lots of World of Warcraft.

Mass Effect certainly pinged my radar, but I inexplicably got the game confused with another title that came out at another time. Needless to say, between World of Warcraft grinding (and my first child, I guess), I completely missed it.

13 and a half years later Mass Effect Legendary Edition is here, but how does it stack up to current, new games?

The answer is no, but also yes

Mass effect legendary edition
Is it just me or does Mass Effect 1’s Shepard look like he’s reading my response? (Image: KnowTechie)

Mass Effect Legendary Edition is a combination of the Mass Effect trilogy. It starts with the original Mass Effect and ends with Mass Effect 3. What is especially interesting is that a few mechanics are fine-tuned to make the trilogy more uniform, on top of visual updates. The first, and most important is the leveling system.

The original Mass Effect system had a 60 level grind-fest that generally required multiple playthroughs to max characters out. While I personally haven’t experienced this grind, my super-fan friend told me no less than 12 times. Also, apparently fast travel is new too, according to him.

Legendary Edition acts as a highlighter for all the rough edges of the original Mass Effect

Captain anderson mass effect
Image: KnowTechie

With a fresh coat of paint and a few pain points resolved, Mass Effect is given a new lease on life with Legendary Edition. However, it still feels and absolutely plays like a launch Xbox 360 game. The gameplay feels floaty and hollow.

Characters move incredibly rigidly. Worst of all, the game looks like an old 360 game with a fresh coat of paint. You know how sometimes an old movie gets remastered and you can feel the age of the film? Mass Effect suffers from this.

While the original Mass Effect doesn’t play well or look very appealing, the story still shines. I was a little irritated that character selection doesn’t seem to impact much, but the story being told is still a gripping one.

Mass Effect’s political sci-fi drama playing through and still slaps. I found myself powering through the game to get myself into the second two games, both of which I had more experience with.

The game is good and completely playable. I just would advise that for fans of the series, nostalgia is going to carry you through. For someone that never touched the original game, I can’t say the same. I appreciated the story beats, enjoyed watching it unfold but even with a bunch of improvements, the original Mass Effect feels primitive in comparison to the other two games.

Mass Effect is still an appetizer for Mass Effect 2

Video game action gameplay
Image: KnowTechie

That leads us into Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3. I’m going to be honest with you all here, I didn’t play more than an hour or two of both within Mass Effect Legendary Edition. This is because my end-game goal is to actually do what many others did and carry my Shepard through all three games. That didn’t stop me from firing each up and seeing how time treated them.

Mass Effect 2 was my first experience within the Mass Effect universe. I actually played the game to near completion. I stopped playing it at the big mission at the end. There’s a problem I have with role-playing games when the game tells me I’ve reached the point of no return. I want to make sure I’ve done all I can and haven’t missed anything.

Mass Effect 3 had me jumping into the multiplayer mode (not included in Mass Effect Legendary Edition) but I also dabbled with the story. I stopped playing when I realized that we’d reached the final story beats for those characters I left on the Normandy in Mass Effect 2.

Both Mass Effect 2 and 3 honestly look like brand new games. Improvements in the engines really make the games look at least a whole generation newer. At the same time, the floatiness of combat and the general rigidness of the world feel much more up to par with what one would expect of a BioWare game. I honestly can’t wait to complete Mass Effect so I can dive into both of these.

Don’t forget, Mass Effect Legendary is just a polished collection

Me legendary edition
Image: KnowTechie

I don’t want anyone to get the impression that I’m hating on the original Mass Effect. I understand that Mass Effect Legendary does the best with that it can without the game getting a complete remake.

In fact, it’s important to remember that Mass Effect Legendary is just a remastered trilogy with a little fine-tuning. You could still go on Steam and download the original trilogy. Sure, you’d still need to download all the DLC that Legendary Edition includes and you would get a graphically inferior set of games, but it would still be the same games overall.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition is a great opportunity for those that didn’t jump into the series at the right point (like me). Or for those that didn’t get to experience the games as intended. They get to play the games as they were meant.

I’m having an enjoyable time with the first Mass Effect and while m expectations of the game were tempered by the sequels, it’s still good to see how the seeds were planted.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Longtime games journalist and Florida resident. I'm a Guinness World Record holder, wordsmith extraordinaire, MOBA fan, devoted dad and husband. I'm here to spread the gospel of video games.

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