Mass Effect LE (Impressions)

With the release of Mass Effect Legendary Edition bringing the three classic BioWare RPGs to new consoles I’ve been more than happy to jump back in again and be my inner Kirk with long speeches, shooting things and making moves on alien women. It certainly didn’t take long for me to be absorbed in this world again. The original Mass Effect when it first arrived on Xbox 360 was like an evolution of what BioWare achieved in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire with its turn based combat shifting towards a more towards real-time but it hasn’t aged as well as its sequels who nailed the format down much more successfully. So the tweaks made by the developers here to make it feel closer to those games is a smart move in preserving the trilogy as a whole.

The story of Mass Effect feels a lot like 70’s sci-fi with maybe a bit of Star Trek too with Earth becoming part of a larger galactic community. You’re cast as Shepard (“fem-shep” or “bro-shep”, your choice), the first human to become an elite operative for the Galactic Council and after a mishap on your first mission your task quickly becomes a manhunt for a rogue operative. Along the way you expand the crew of your ship, help people, solve problems and maybe sneak in some “relations” too. The presentation really helps set the tone a lot with its futuristic designs and awesome soundtrack while the world building is excellent with plenty of story threads dangling that really help to enable the sequels.

What I like

  • Your team are just some of the best characters that BioWare ever came up with for an RPG and I wish sometimes I could just take the whole squad with me everywhere. Except Kaidan… but then you can’t make an omelette…
  • The visual boost does a good job of bringing the game forward and with AutoHDR kicking in on the Series X there’s plenty of impressive sights.
  • The soundtrack is amazing. It fills out so much of the game in the right way that the times when I’m not hearing it feel like omissions. It made me go back to listening to the original soundtrack again (yes, have it!).
  • Faster load times really help here… having the option to skip the elevator sequences FINALLY is great but loading of saved games is super quick on the new Xbox which helps keep you playing for longer.

What I don’t like

  • The cover mechanic still doesn’t work well in the game… it’s not the easiest thing to rely on in the midst of a gunfight and a few times I’ve been caught out and died as a result of it.
  • The bugs. As of the launch week I’ve seen a fair share of bugs in ME with characters stuck in T poses, an audio bug cutting off game sound and pathfinding for your squad breaking. They all seem to be resolved by quitting the game and resuming (no need for a full restart) so hopefully it’s something that can be fixed quickly because these problems crop up often. Strange to think how different the reaction is compared to Andromeda’s launch issues…
  • Autosaves can be a bit harsh at times. This might have been the same as in the original game but it’s possible to spend a lot of time on a planet surface without triggering it when you die you’re forced to play through it all again.

Despite the problems Mass Effect continues to draw me in. With so many of the sci-fi RPGs in my collection going for dystopian or post apocalyptic settings it still feels like a breath of fresh air after all this time. And even if I know where it’s going to end I’m still keen to experience it all again. 🙂

Mass Effect Legendary Edition is out now for PC, Xbox and PlayStation. Played on an Xbox Series X.

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