Some games are happy to tell a self-contained story in a single entry, but others want to leave a legacy. They want you to stick with them for years, following up every so often to see how your characters are doing. It’s a shame more games don’t do that, really – imagine if you could import your Mario saves from game to game. I’d have billions of coins by now, not to mention a castle made entirely of mushrooms and Koopa shells.
Anyway, that might not be a thing, but at least we’ve got Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, a compilation of the main titles in the Mass Effect series and most of the DLC associated with them. It ought to suit all of your save-importing needs.
The original Mass Effect was one of those classic games where you just kind of dealt with some antiquated design because the underlying adventure was just that good. It was an effort from developer BioWare to do something new, so what resulted as an odd mix between a third-person shooter and an RPG. This first game was heavy on the RPG elements, so there was an inventory system, plenty of loot and lots of time spent digging through menus.
You may or may not be fond of this setup and BioWare moved away from it for future titles. We follow Commander Shepard, galactic badass extraordinaire, as they seek to defeat a traitorous villain who serves a mysterious master.
You’ll want to make sure you’re fond of the Shepard you build, as you’ll be taking them through all three of these games – it’s fortunate that this version of Mass Effect uses the more advanced character creator introduced later in the series. It also offers a few difficulty and gameplay tweaks that change the experience significantly, such as offering a mode that allows the player to reach maximum level in a single playthrough and allowing every character class to wield every weapon rather than locking some away to particular classes. Generally this leads to a more modern-feeling game overall.
Mass Effect 2 marks a significant departure for the series, changing the formula from a more RPG-focused experience to something that concentrates a bit more on the action side of things. It leans heavily into the cover-shooter style of gameplay that was popular at the time and does a pretty decent job with it. This does mean that character customization is a bit less granular and arguably less deep, but at the same time it’s not like interacting with tiny percentages of stats felt especially great in the first game anyway.
Plotwise, we follow Shepard as they reluctantly work with the human supremacist organization Cerberus to recruit allies and confront a threat to the galaxy.
Of course, that threat isn’t the most significant issue, as we see in Mass Effect 3, where Shepard actually saves the galaxy for real this time. Or doesn’t. It’s up to the choices you make and your favorite primary color, really. This is probably the best game out of the trilogy from both a gameplay and plot perspective, forgetting any *ahem* issues with the ending aside. It’s another cover-shooter styled game a la Mass Effect 2, but polished to a mirror sheen with plenty of interesting twists like modifiable abilities and a new equipment weight system.
Unfortunately, the best part of the ME3 experience was the surprisingly great multiplayer and that hasn’t been included…but the omission took away the requirement to play multiplayer in order to reach the best ending in the single-player mode, so there’s that. ME3 also benefits the most out of the trilogy from the presence of all of the DLC included in the package. Remember back when we got upset about things like important story points being DLC-only? Yeah, ME3 is from that period, so there’s significant plot beats locked behind DLC that are now included in the base game. It’s pretty nice.
All of these games have been souped up to some degree from a presentation perspective, though unsurprisingly the first game benefits the most here. Everything runs at a nice, crisp pace on modern hardware, so there’s no need to worry about framerates and such. Don’t expect miracles – ME3 remains the best-looking of the bunch – but there’s a significant upgrade for the others that returning players and newcomers alike will appreciate.
Newcomers, of course, would get the most out of this collection, but it’s hard to say how many of those there are over the past few years given the widespread acclaim of Mass Effect. They ought to check this collection out without question, but veterans are going to have a great time returning to this world as well. With another Mass Effect game on the horizon, there’s no better time to take a look at Mass Effect: Legendary Edition and get acquainted where it all started.