Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

Can mechanicals coexist with biologicals? Apparently this was the question that we needed to ask after 9/11. Just go read some Iain Banks or Clifford Simak. But you can still do a great job of answering a dumb question. Or you can do Battlestar Galactica.

Thanks to COVID, I find myself in the unusual position (since the 90s, at least) of playing games quite soon after they come out. I literally bought Mass Effect: Legendary Edition within days of release (after a brief “should I really pay full price?” debate with myself) and did not regret it.

I actually finished my initial play-through in time to get the reward which lets you have the Normandy in No Man’s Sky, but couldn’t figure out how to claim it, and really couldn’t imagine how silly it would look anyway (Normandy looks pretty silly on its own, and its aesthetics are a horrible mismatch for No Man’s Sky, whose spacecraft look both silly and ugly).

Anyway, having played the original series very enthusiastically (the sequels being some of the few games I bought shortly after release in the aughts), complete with being disappointed (but not outraged) by the ending of the trilogy, and having been starved of decent SF-themed RPGs pretty much ever since (as is likely obvious from my various screeds on Eve Online and No Man’s Sky)—so much so that I actually played through Mass Effect: Andromeda twice—I was curious to find out how well the game held up, and intrigued to discover how good the first game is with the obvious fixes added.

Summary (was tl;dr, but it got too long

Obviously, these are just my opinions. If you’re offended by my opinions then why the fuck are you reading this?

  • Playing all three games in order really highlights what an ambitious undertaking this game series was, how well thought-out and planned it all was, how sophisticated the themes they tacked were, and how well it all is brought off considering the above. Sure, they couldn’t allow for 200! possible ending situations.
  • Even so, deciding that in the end it was about whether mechanicals could get along with biologicals was as stupid in Mass Effect as it was in Battlestar Galactica, but at least they didn’t go ham-fistedly religious. Deciding that there’s some intrinsic difference between THIS kind of mechanical life and THAT kind of mechanical life is just racism cloaked in technology. (And yes, at least the game kind of acknowledges this, again, unlike BSG.)
  • Mass Effect (the first installment) is now really the best of the trilogy, because the skills and gear aren’t dumbed down and the elevator rides and load times have been fixed. Also, the graphics are better. I won’t die on this hill though, 2 is still great.
  • Rumors that the ATV mechanics in Mass Effect are hugely improved are fiction. It’s pretty much the same (I actually rolled the damn thing multiple times in one of the final sequences).
  • It’s really annoying that they didn’t let you play on after winning, but I guess it makes sense. The whole “this is super urgent” vibe combined with the “hey, do all this non-essential side quest shit” is always annoying in CRPGs and not even being able to tidy up after, bites.
  • Mass Effect 2‘s transition is even more jarring when you start it a few minutes after finishing Mass Effect. (Won’t spoil this. If you’ve played it you know what I mean, and if you haven’t, go fucking play it.
  • Mass forEffect 3‘s ending is still pretty annoying.

tl;dr (for real, this time)

Mass Effect is still the best “space opera” RPG ever made. I wish we’d get something better, or even as good. Maybe using the GTA engine?