There are certain things in life that are just “good”. Cold feet in front of a warm fire, the smell of freshly cut grass or just sitting on the sand watching waves lapping at the beach. Well, there is another thing to add to this list…playing Mass Effect in 4K with HDR and 60 frames per second!
I want to put this right up front.
I am a massive Mass Effect fan-boy! Having played through Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3 multiple times, read all the books, watched all the anime. I even still have a N7 badge on my backpack. Guilty of being a Mass Effect nerd of the highest order; so this write-up is most certainly a fans appraisal of this Mass Effect trilogy remaster.
With the Legendary Collection comes a slick, centralised game launcher that has all three Mass Effect titles ready to go. Obviously, I had to start at the start! So with a hit of a button, the sci-fi music swelled and the “O.G” Mass Effect title screen appeared on my 4K TV… and I got some ‘feels’, I won’t lie. Garrus, Wrex and Liara were all waiting for an adventure. Over a decade after the first one released, I was about to dive back into one of my most beloved game worlds.
As I started my playthrough, thoughts of my crew and my mission ahead came flooding back. Garrus, my best mate and an absolute bad-ass with a grin. Wrex, a Biotic beast with an honor code rooted in violence and his Krogan cultural identity. Miranda and her booty that just won’t quit, no matter how many cut-scenes it gets edited out of. (Bless you new photo-mode…bless you). And then there is my ship, The Normandy.
Back to Eden Prime
Dropping into Eden Prime, meeting up with Ash and laying eyes on Saren for the first time…again, was all awesome. The skyboxes, environments and characters have all had a graphical upgrades. As well as the overhauled U.I. being modernised and unified across the games. Importantly, Bioware have addressed the major issues the original Mass Effect game had. In particular the gun-play and general feel of shooting has been worked on. Gone are the dice-roll bullets and floaty cross hair, not perfect mind you, but much better.
As I crested the hill near Eden Prime settlement, to then see Sovereign rocket into orbit, I could tell how much love Bioware had put into this endeavor. That sequence had been re-made and polished into a real moment, which definitely didn’t have the equivalent impact in 2007. As an experienced Mass Effect player, to see my quarry tear-ass off planet in such an in-game spectacle, made me excited for the hours of gaming I had ahead of me.
Mass Effect 1 is still the stunning Space Opera it was in 2007, just prettier and feeling more modern. That’s not to say it plays like a hard-core 3rd person, cover based shooter, like Gears or anything like that though. There is still some serious ‘clunk’ with the contextual cover system and the guns still sound a bit gutless, with little feedback on how effective shots are. But if you are here for just the shooting, you are here for the wrong reason. Mass Effect is all about the story, characters and the wider universe.
And the inevitable sequels?
Mass Effect 2 and 3 have not seen as many major changes, but to be fair they weren’t needed. They have also had an upgrade to 4K graphics, with better textures throughout and HDR. Nowhere was this more noticeable than the neon soaked, den of scoundrels that is Omega Station in Mass Effect 2. The lights in ‘Afterlife’ reflected off my armour and as the dance floor lights shifted over the environment. It seemed like the full realisation of the space originally envisaged by Bioware over 10 years ago.
The voice acting and quest design are unchanged across the trilogy. This is excellent as Mass Effect is some of the best RPG content Bioware ever created. The other massive boon though is the improvement to load times. The well meme’d elevator rides between levels still exist, but they are over in a mere 2-3 seconds. In fact, a ‘skip’ button prompt has been added, if you don’t want to listen to the impromptu elevator conversations of you squad mates.
If I was to park the hyperbole bus up for a moment and lay a criticisim at the feet of the Legendary Collection. It is that Mass Effect 1 does still ‘feel’ a tad old. Its shooting and level design has improved, but it’s far from being comparable to a ‘next-gen’ PS5-esque experience. Many gamers without that deep connection to the I.P. like myself, will wonder what the hell I am banging on about if they played ME1 cold. But thankfully, Mass Effect 2 and 3 could easily be mistaken for a current day release, they both look and play great.
Just to be clear, one more time…
I openly admitted at the outset of this wee splurge, I am a massive Mass Effect nerd. I loved being back in this universe, with my all-time favourite companions all aboard the Normandy together. Bioware have done a great job with the polish-up and the upgrade to 60fps cannot be understated. Three epic games, a huge amount of content, all for $100NZD. It is an absolute bargain!