Mass Effect Legendary Edition Review Part 1: Mass Effect
Unsurprisingly, EA’s 4K remaster of the first Mass Effect is a day and night difference to the 2007 original. A glance at a side-by-side comparison tells you the basics of what you need to know. About this upgrade: Textures, character models, and effects have been changed and everything runs at 60fps or higher, although the animations show their age in places, especially on human faces. But to find out how this famous but notoriously uneven game plays out in 2021, taking into account the gameplay adjustments in the Legendary Edition, I spent 30 hours on a full game. Revisiting an RPG that I hadn’t played since 2008 turned out to be a fantastic refresh on one of the game’s best original sci-fi universes, and also a reminder of the mechanical weaknesses many of us were prepared for. to be overlooked at the time because of how revolutionary Mass Effect was at the time.
In general, Mass Effect looks good in 4K. (I’ve played on Xbox Series X.) The environments are a bit sparse when it comes to the breadth of everything, but the textures are crisp and detailed, and the lighting effects look respectfully modern. Its biggest weakness – visually – is its facial animations, which are hard to ignore given what you see of it. Unlike their detailed, well-lit skin, many human figures appear to have paralyzed faces between the upper lip and the eyes. Sometimes those eyes have an uncomfortable and unfazed look. It’s not terrible but it definitely stands out compared to the current games. The cool thing about aliens, however, is that they are immune to the Strange Valley effect, because as far as we know, that’s what their faces are supposed to look like – so they’re generally excellent.
(The new photo mode is a nice addition, although I’m not sure if the original Mass Effect – even after its 4K upgrade – is a game good enough to inspire many photographers who might as well practice their craft in a game that originated in this decade.)What comes out of their mouths, however, brilliantly resisted. The voice cast of Mass Effect is exceptional, especially Jennifer Hale as the female version of Shepard. The supporting characters have many recognizable voices, including Keith David, Seth Green, and Star Trek: The Next Generation veterans Marina Sirtis and Dwight Schultz. Understandably, it’s nearly impossible to have a 30-hour game without a few weak spots in the vocals here and there, but the important characters are all extremely well done.
There is nothing terrible about your human teammates – they are just plain pale to the four aliens.
The story of Commander Shepard and the crew of the Normandy working to stop rogue Specter Saren from relaunching an ancient cycle of galactic genocide has not missed a milestone over the past 14 years, and neither has his unforgettable alien characters. To be fair, there’s nothing terrible about your human teammates, Kaiden, and Ashley – they’re just plain pale to the four aliens who have earned their reputation as some of the best companions in RPG history. The personalities of Wrex, Liara, Tali and Garrus come through strongly in their voice acting and dialogue, such as when Garrus is to be deterred from his law enforcement style of shooting hostages. Deciding which characters to take with me on each mission is legitimately difficult because I want to know how they’re going to interact.
Meanwhile, Saren is a powerful villain who comes across as both a monstrous traitor and at times somewhat sympathetic. He’s certainly bad from the start, but as you learn more about him you find that he has some beliefs that motivate him and an argument to support them – even if he is a an argument that no sane person would engage with. (I remember the first time I played, which was relatively soon after Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, I was annoyed that Shepard couldn’t choose to accept Saren’s offer to join him. Looking back, I can see how this might’ve been a problem for the sequels.)
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On top of that, it’s simply amazing how much worldbuilding is crammed into this first game without it looking like a giant exhibition dump. Through conversations, both aboard the Normandy between missions and with dozens of characters on the worlds we visit, we learn the interconnected and complex histories of the Krogan, Salarians, Quarians, Turians, Asari, Geth, and more, and all of it is used to create tension in the difficult alliance of species that rules the galaxy from the bright white station of the Citadel. When bad blood boils between characters of different species, it all makes perfect sense. The revelations come at a pace that sustains the energy, and rarely have I seen a universe feel so fleshed out so quickly. Additionally, the frequent criticism of the Specters’ uncontrolled policing power seems relevant today as well (although his adherence to the idea that only a good space cop can stop a bad space cop may not appeal to him. everybody).
Almost every great world you visit contains at least one important life and death decision.
Of course, just about every major world you visit contains at least one major life or death decision that we know will have repercussions in Mass Effect 2 and 3, including the fates of major characters and even of death. whole species. Behind it all is Mass Effect’s signature morality system, which lets you choose to play Shepard as a Truth and Justice-style Paragon or a Renegade who does the job by his own rules. It’s still a great RPG mechanic that rewards consistency with more persuasive conversation options. And it’s not too rigid: I didn’t feel penalized for banging my generally law-abiding Shepard a few heads or even working outside the law on a few side quests when I felt appropriate.The fight is not really a highlight. To its credit, The Legendary Edition has smoothed things out a bit with improved aim, shorter cooldowns, a redesigned interface, and the ability to lead both of your team members individually. You get moments of intensity when you get cornered by enemy fire and shoot them. Additionally, Shepard can now use any weapon, regardless of your class, which is sometimes useful. But the AI is barely there, to the point where you’ll see some enemies moving in clearly predefined patterns, so these aren’t exactly tactically interesting fights that really require you to use all of your team’s abilities. As long as you periodically update your team’s gear with the slightly improved but still slow and clunky inventory system, there aren’t many battles that are likely to slow you down much on normal difficulty.
Enemy AI is barely there.
Inventory management remains a drag on the pace without many advantages. You can now mark a bunch of items as junk and sell them all at once when you hit a store, which is definitely a big increase in convenience, but other than that you have to slowly scroll through tons of items to find what you want. One thing that constantly pisses me off, given that you have the option to swap your weapon ammo mods on the fly, is that you are effectively encouraged to do so whenever you need to counter a new enemy with it. a shield or other resistance. . The problem is, in order to do that you have to pause, select the menu item next to where you change your graphics options, find the right character and weapon, and then scroll down to find what you want. you need. It’s just a lot when you’re in the middle of a shootout, and it makes the switch to the ability-based ammo system in Mass Effect 2 a great idea.
I played the new Legendary Mode by default, which just means you’re only asked to stop and upgrade points half as often as in the still-available Classic Mode – and I still felt like it had happened a lot. I preferred it this way because most individual points only give you a negligible stat boost; that way you can usually save enough points to unlock something new as you level up. The original Mass Effect has a lot more old-school RPG stats than its sequels, but it’s not like it asks you to calculate intimidating numbers – just pick the skills from the class you’ve chosen to improve and to unlock. I wish there was more room for my Shepard to feel like a build that I chose in my class, as I had enough skill points to maximize almost everything at the end and that made it homogeneous.
The real problem with the Mako is that nothing you do there is fun.
Another change highlighted in the Legendary Edition concerns the adjustments to the handling of the Mako Landing Vehicle. And of course, I appreciate that it’s less awkward and less prone to instant deaths… but that just made me realize that the real problem with the Mako is that nothing you do there is fun. The combat is incredibly bland because most of the enemies just sit there and shoot you while you take them out with two boring weapons, and the rest just drive from point A to point B on the big open world maps and for most empty you can land and explore. Small tweaks to make him less punishing can’t save him, and it’s easy to see why BioWare put the Mako on the back burner for the next two games. Some of the other annoyances of the original version have been toned down to the point where you have to wonder why they’re even there. The hacking minigame, for example, is the same simple Simon Says button press routine from the original Xbox version (as opposed to “Frogger” from the PC version) except that the failure is entirely inconsequential. – you can try again instead to resort to spending your omni-freeze currency to unlock it (or reload a save). In fact, in all of my game, I never used omni-gel to hack anything once.
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