Let us start by pointing out that Mass Effect is, in our opinion, one of the best video game trilogies. Possibly the best. Together they form a fantastic science fiction epic, divided between three action RPGs with difficult decisions, memorable characters, and freedom on how players can approach story and gameplay. Yes, it's true that Mass Effect 3's ending was not all Bioware had promised us before (this version includes the new and improved ending), but we also believe that stain was not enough to truly hinder one of the biggest journeys in video games.
And Mass Effect Legendary Edition is now the best way to enjoy that journey.
To make it very clear, this is a remastering of the three original games, not a remake. This is a collection that brings together the three games and (almost) all the DLCs, improving graphics, gameplay, structure, and loading times. There are several improvements, which go beyond a simple increase in resolution, and that's what we'll be exploring in the text below.
Of the three games, Mass Effect, from 2007, received the most care. The graphics have obviously been improved, but that's not all. Its gameplay has not aged as well as the sequels, and over the years it became increasingly difficult to return to the game. In this remastered version you will find improvements to the controls, the behavior of your teammates, enemy AI, and gameplay in general. The result is a gaming experience closer to the sequels, even if it's still not quite at the same level.
Even with all the improvements, Mass Effect does not quite measure up to the sequels in terms of gameplay, but it is now a lot easier to replay it. It's a pleasure to finally be able to enjoy this epic adventure again without having several dated elements ruining the experience. And yes, loading times - including those damn elevators - have been substantially reduced.
Let us also clarify that we played Mass Effect Legendary Edition on the Xbox Series X. This means we cannot really attest to its quality on other platforms, although this collection was mainly designed for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. The PC version will potentially be the superior version, but more than graphical improvements, in relation to the PC version we want to welcome the fact that the trilogy now officially supports the Xbox controller, something that didn't happen in any of the original games - you would need external mods to play the PC versions with a controller.
Although the experience as a whole shows improvements, the most evident changes are naturally graphical. Bioware increased the resolution, improved the quality of the textures, completely reworked the lighting system, and added several new graphical elements and effects. All of this brings the overall graphical package closer to modern standards, even if it's not all positive.
The brutal increase in resolution, the reduction in image noise, and the drastic change of lighting in some scenes, also makes the original graphical flaws more clear. Think watching a VHS movie on a 4K television, where flaws in image quality are even more prominent. Although they've been worked on, the animations are also not up to current standards, even in terms of lip synchronisation and facial animations.
It should also be noted that the new composition of the image, in terms of noise, shadows, and general lighting, changed the environment and the general atmosphere immensely, especially from the first game. It is not a question of being worse or better, but simply different. This means that, if you're very familiar with the originals, you may find the new composition a bit off, and we're sure the most purist fans will hate the change.
As for content, almost all expansions and DLC are present, including bonus and reserve offers at the time. The exceptions are the withdrawal of Mass Effect 3's multiplayer mode (the war resources have been rebalanced so as not to depend on that mode), and the absence of the Pinnacle Station expansion of the first Mass Effect, since according to Bioware, the original files were unrecoverable. We also appreciate the fact that all of these expansions and extras have been incorporated organically into the adventures. Instead of accessing them through a menu, or unlocking weapons right from the start, you'll access everything as if they were part of the original experience.
The three games also feature a unification in terms of options and character creation, providing an even more solid and uniform experience. That said, you can start the adventure with the game of your choice, and both Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 include the Dark Horse digital comics that summarises what happened before - even allowing you to make some of the most important choices. Of course, ideally, you will play all three games and use the same save, in order to have the real complete Mass Effect experience.
Yes, ideally we would have loved for complete remakes of the three games, but Mass Effect Legendary Edition is an excellent remastering effort. It is a bursting collection of content, which improves countless elements of the originals, unifies the experience between the three games, and solves a series of bugs. It is worth playing the saga all over again? Well, that's up to you, honestly. What we can say is that Mass Effect remains a fabulous trilogy, fully deserving of the time of veterans or novices, and that this collection is - globally - the best way to enjoy this epic journey.