Friday, May 21, 2021

"Mass Effect: Legendary Edition" Review

A groundbreaking and innovative effort that paved the way for the likes of "The Witcher" series, the "Mass Effect" trilogy gave players a hand in authorship, allowing them to shape and direct their own stories with key choices and morality-based decisions hanging in the balance.

Choices you made in the game not only affected your ending, but characters who lived or died shaped the rest of your experience in the remaining. It always seemed as though the trilogy were one, humongous interlinked game, and "Mass Effect: Legendary Edition" now brings that vision to life.

Originally released in 2007, 2010 and 2012, the trilogy had started to show some laugh lines and arthritic pains over the years. The new effort from BioWare smooths out the rough edges and combines the games into one near-seamless saga. 

The original "Mass Effect" gets the most noticeable facelift, with its rough control systems smoothed out and its laborious loading times mitigated. The other two games also get significant boosts, with the lone significant sacrifice -- the loss of multiplayer in "Mass Effect 3" -- only seeming like a minimal setback.

Crafting and shaping your Command Shepard throughout the journey is enriching, with repeated playthroughs letting you toy with various styles and permutations. You can take on the mentality of a conniving manipulator in one, a ruthless, bloodthirsty tyrant in another, and a meek person with pacifist leanings in a third go-round. The often devastating repercussions -- in survival of characters and entire races, romantic unions lost and fund and in side stories discovered -- is often illuminating or disheartening.

The writing craft at play in the "Mass Effect" franchise was always the rocket that lifted it to its storied heights, and now the visuals and accessibility match it. Always known as a tough RPG, the ease-of-life benefits now sometimes steer the game into easy territory. But the true rewards come in participating in the story in a way unlike any franchise before, and a nature that is in many ways still unmatched.

While the trilogy's follow-up, "Mass Effect: Andromeda," left some players yearning for the olden days, this revamped, optimized taste of the original satisfies that nostalgic craving, while shining a promising light on the series' future.

Publisher provided review code.

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