Back to the future

Dramatic sunsets are everywhere in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition.IMAGE: SUPPLIED
Dramatic sunsets are everywhere in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition.IMAGE: SUPPLIED
From: Electronic Arts
For PS4, Xbox One, PC

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but packaging an old game series and re-releasing it can be a risky business.

Some games don’t age particularly well, even with some upgraded graphics; others weren’t great to begin with; others were extremely good but just offer no real reason to be played again.

But when they get it right, a remastered game series can be a wonderful addition to the canon.

My go-to example is the Bioshock series, which was fantastic when I played it the first time and just as great the next time around.

Now — belatedly, as it actually came out a while ago, but don’t judge me; I’ve been busy — I have had a chance to have a crack at the Mass Effect trilogy, the ‘‘legendary edition’’ of which will delight original fans.

It does not hold back, compiling all three original games alongside all of the downloadable expansion packs and content and adding a swag of visual and mechanical tweaks to really convince you it is worth it.

The first (and obviously oldest) game in the trilogy gets the most intensive plastic surgery, with a whole bunch of graphic and combat work to make it appear good enough for the next generation.

You return to the Normandy as Commander Shepard, that elite human soldier with the perfect five o’clock shadow (assuming you elect to play as a male version) who has the not inconsiderable task of basically uniting the galaxy against a fearsome breed of synthetic-organic starships known as Reapers.

It’s an action RPG with strong moral and decision-making elements, in which you swing between combat sequences, exploration, talking (lots of chat), squad building and political manoeuvring.

Shepard has plenty of choices to make, and they do affect the overall path of the story, so while a lot of the sections of the game are linear-ish, it never feels like you are completely on rails, especially as the game opens up and exploration options become available.

To be honest, I didn’t love Mass Effect the first time, though I appreciated it was a fine game.

Playing it second time around, having forgotten much of the lore but remembering the basics of how it played, I am struck by how good it looks and how smoothly everything seems to work.

This is a 17-year-old game, remember, and technological wizardry can only do so much.

I am a terror for skipping through dialogue sequences in games but this is a trilogy that rewards you for being patient and taking in what various characters are saying.

It feels to me like this is an interesting time for gaming, that people are weary of retreads and reboots and sequels, and there is a hunger for new things to try.

That said, revisiting the past can be a rewarding experience. While ‘‘legendary edition’’ might be a bit bold, Mass Effect holds up extremely well as a remaster, and will strike a chord with both fans of the original and those who haven’t yet played it.

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