Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is one of the games I was really looking forward to getting. I have some really enjoyable memories of watching my brother play through all of the games in the series. He was basically the brawn who would control Commander Shepard against the impending invasion of the Reapers and the ultimate genocide of all living sentient life in the galaxy. My job was to simply direct the story as I would make all of the dialog choices as well as who Commander Shepard would take on missions. My brother and I had a blast going through all 3 games on the PlayStation 3 when EA and BioWare finally released them all in the Mass Effect Trilogy bundle.
That was almost a decade ago. EA and BioWare are now double dipping and re-releasing the entire Mass Effect trilogy of games onto modern systems. This was basically going to be them remastering all of them to make things look better as well as attempt to address all of the issues fans had with the series a long time ago (but not in a galaxy far, far away).
A lot of things have changed for me since then. I’m now a lot more confident when it comes to actually playing video games and not having to rely on my brother to do all the heavy lifting. I actually use my own money to buy games as well, which is why I went out to get a physical copy Mass Effect: Legendary Edition when it was released. I also realized something about my time with the first Mass Effect game: I don’t remember much about it! I had vague memories of the entire Indoctrination of the former Spectre Saren and my brother struggling to get the vehicles out of pits. Other than that, I can’t for the life of me tell you anything about Mass Effect 1’s story! So, let me tell you how I experienced Mass Effect 1 for the first time all over again!
From the outset, I knew I was going to make a female Shepard. I did give some thought on finally playing through Mass Effect using a male avatar but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I just had to play as FemShep like I did all those days ago. I actually went through the entire character creation system and I stayed there for around an hour or so because I just wanted to get my FemShep just right. However, even when I did try to recreate the FemShep we made almost a decade ago, it just didn’t look right, especially with the default female version of Shepard already looking so good and unique. It was much better than what I could make! I really wish BioWare allowed me to modify the default FemShep so I could make her hair a touch redder than it is. Even with that in mind, I decided to go against my normal convention and just use the pre-built character. It was just too good.
I was then plopped into the think of things during the first mission when the squad was sent to defend the Eden Prime colony from an invading force. Right off the bat, one of my squadmates gets killed. I think his name was Jenkins or something like that. I would’ve shed a tear but I hardly knew him! It’s hard to get emotional over the death of someone when you don’t know who he was! It certainly didn’t help matters that he died like a chump running out in the open like that! After that speech of wanting some action back on the Normandy, I expected so much more than a cheap death.
Anyway, while going through Eden Prime, I couldn’t shake the feeling of how… last-gen Mass Effect 1 felt. I know it technically is an old game just gussied up but the way everything felt was so stiff. I would get stuck behind cover when I didn’t want to at times. The animations looked very stiff and repetitive. I actually started to mimic every time a character would pound their fist into their other palm to make it look like they were determined. While your squadmates looked decent, the other non-playable characters looked so uncanny valley! I especially found Captain Anderson’s unflinching mug particularly unnerving as his eyes seemed to be bugging out in every thing he’s in! He really should apply some medi-gel on that!
Also, maybe it’s just me or does the first Mass Effect’s world feel a little sterile? I really felt this while exploring the Presidium area of the Citadel. The area is so vast and large. It also looks really good, especially with the remaster coat of paint on it. However, it does feel like there’s very little to do! They say there are a lot of shops in the market area of the wards but you can only shop in a couple of them. I expected C-Sec to be a little more busy, with some more alien crime or something. Even the more seedy areas like Chora’s Den seemed very clean. I don’t think you can even order a drink this time around! Are you saying FemShep is straight edge?
I then got to the dreaded Mako stages and, in all honesty, I didn’t find them so bad. Steering this 6-wheeled tank could be bothersome, especially when trying to make turns but it was something I did get used to. What I couldn’t get used to were the jump jets on the Mako! They’re supposed to give the vehicle a little more vertical thrust to get over objects or something like that but everytime I would use them, the Mako would careen over to one side even if I was driving perfectly straight. I would also slow down when using the jump jets because they would send me flying back when I was airborne! I do appreciate the turbo boost jets at the back to make the Mako move much faster. I understand this wasn’t part of the original version of Mass Effect 1 so I can empathize with how frustratingly slow it was to traverse a planet so many years ago. I also understand the original Mako was floaty as all heck but they added more weight to it in the Legendary Edition. Thank the Maker because, based on what I’ve seen on YouTube, the Mako was an unweildly beast before!
Besides the Mako, I do wish they also spruced up some of the other game mechanics. The Simon Says minigame where you have to push a button on the controller when prompted got really tedious after going through it for the 197th time. I know I could just omni-gel to bypass it but you have to understand the way I’m wired. If I can do something that’ll save me resources in a game, you can bet I’ll keep on doing it, despite me grumbling all the time while I’m doing it! I also get why you have to go through this minigame when doing something like unlocking a safe or hacking a door as it simulates the actual process. I don’t get why you have to do it when staking a claim on minerals! Just stick a marker on it saying it’s yours, Shepard! Finders keepers!
Some of the menu systems, particularly the skill trees and the equipment screen, feel archaic and just too cumbersome for a modern game. For the equipment screen, it shows all the weapons and armors and, with the numerous item drops, you’ll be drowning in stuff! At a certain point, I actually reached the maximum cap for credits as I sold off all much useless and weak items. I just kept on disassembling the worthless crap into omni-gel afterwards because I simply had too much cash on hand! They also try to trying to differentiate between light, medium and heavy armors but, besides some human classes being unable to equip the more heavy armors, I didn’t see why you wouldn’t want to put on the armor with the most protection.
When it comes to the level up screen, I really didn’t like how you need to waste some skill points on things like Electronics, Decryption and Charm/Intimidate to get the most out of the game. I picked the Infiltrator class as I love using sniper rifles but I couldn’t put points into that skill as I was first developing my Electronic, Decryption and Charm skills. I could have brought in Tali and Garrus and pumped skill points to those areas but I wanted the freedom to use whomever I wanted when exploring a planet without worrying I would leave something behind because I couldn’t unlock it or couldn’t open up the right dialog to perform my Paragon speeches.
Another thing that really bugged me is how the layout of all the optional areas are all the same. The placement of cover does get switched around but you’re still basically going through the same map over and over again. My internal head canon made it so this was intentional as if everyone just bought the same house because it was the cheapest and most easy to manufacture building. My heart knows this was because BioWare just didn’t have either the time or the money to make more diverse locations.
Despite all my gripes, I will say I actually liked Mass Effect 1’s story. I might even say I found it more memorable than Mass Effect 2 and 3. A lot of work was put into all the world building with the different races and how the galaxy functions. Saran was also a really good villain as a whole because he did seem unstoppable with how others were building him up as this cunning and charismatic leader. I do hate how he became a mindless monster to gun down at the very end. Very anticlimactic for such as well defined character.
The weird thing is, throughout this playthrough, I was generally going through the same motions a decade ago when my brother was at the helm of the controls. My new FemShep, despite sporting a totally new face, strictly followed the Paragon route as before. I really wanted to try some Renegade options but, and you might find it funny, my conscience wouldn’t allow me to break bad. Actually, more exactly, my FemShep’s conscience didn’t. Each time I did try to go Renegade, I would feel bad not because it’s something I wouldn’t do in real life. It’s because I couldn’t picture my FemShep, this female hero who grew up an orphan on Earth and changed her life around by joining the military, not veering off the Paragon route. I couldn’t see the lone survivor of Akuze, who saw her fellow soldiers die horrible deaths and pledge to do better for their sakes, to actually do bad things. It just wasn’t her. So, just like before, this FemShep was a true blue Paragon.
Even when it came to the branching storyline choices, I almost always picked the same options. I still spared the Rachni Queen and I still chose to rescue Ashley Williams on Virmire. Look, I’m sorry but I really tried to like Kaiden this time around but there was just something about his overall personality and, once again, his accent. What is it about Mass Effect and accents which makes me write off characters almost immediately? Welp, I can always go on YouTube to see what I missed!
There was one choice I did do differently and that was to save the Citadel Council instead of letting them die in order to save the human fleet. I was actually shocked I chose to let the Council die so many years ago as, once again, this would not be the Paragon way. Even if they didn’t trust you for the majority of the events in Mass Effect 1, it should be the duty to try to save as much civilian life as possible, even at the cost of soldiers. Maybe I thought it was the prudent sacrifice at the time? I can’t remember.
All-in-all, I did love my time playing through Mass Effect 1 for the first time. It does reaffirm most of the choices I made were the right ones all those years ago. The game, despite getting a new coat of paint, does feel janky at times even with all the improvements they made. I can’t really tell you what those improvements are because I never experienced the jank when it was originally released. I’m going to go through Mass Effect 2 now but it’ll take a whole while before I finish it. I will let you know how it goes. FemShep, out.
How was your time with the Legendary Edition of Mass Effect 1? Let me know in the comments section below!