The original Mass Effect saw BioWare ambitiously attempting to fuse their exemplary story telling abilities with the visceral combat of the cover shooter – a genre still in its infancy back in 2007. Freed from the shackles of the Star Wars licence, BioWare produced an exceptionally rich galaxy filled with danger, discovery and intrigue, setting new standards for story telling and digital acting.
Intended from the outset as a trilogy, it would have been an understandably predictable move to simply go through the motions of adding to the original game as the story arcs towards its ultimate goal – instead they have taken the bold step of gutting the game, addressing each and every criticism levelled at the original, resulting in a finished product is without doubt the most incredible gaming experience BioWare have ever created.
Even the most hardened Mass Effect zealot has to acknowledge the many flaws of the original – the terrible texture pop-in, the infamous lift loading sequences, the repetitive planet exploration, the extremely fiddly inventory system, the questionable combat controls – despite the game’s undeniable quality, it was a flawed work of brilliance. Rather than simply attempt to repair inherently broken mechanics, BioWare have been clinically ruthless in discarding unpopular elements.
Addressing technical issues first, the texture pop-in has been completely eradicated; a feat all the more impressive when taking into account how breathtakingly beautiful the game looks. The original game’s lustrous futurist design and vibrant colour scheme returns, but on a grander scale with a far greater assortment of environments, each with their own individual characteristics. Conservatively uniform structures make way for varied architecture, with wide open vistas offering spectacular views bustling cities crammed full of detail.
A transparent attempt to disguise loading times, the lift sequences of the original game have been replaced by far more honest loading screens – you still need to exercise some patience, but load times are significantly shorter and screens dispense vital information while you wait. Attempting to simulate an entire galaxy on a DVD obviously requires a certain degree of wool being pulled over eyes, and BioWare’s method in the original game saw the incredibly dull Mako sequences where you would drive for hours across identical planet surfaces, distinguishable from one another only by their colour schemes. The Mako driving sections have been ripped out, leaving each explorable planet as a completely original designed environment, each with their own characters, objectives and resources, making for a far more varied experience.