The gaming world has been taken up with Final Fantasy VII Remake for weeks now. And that's great! Square Enix managed to pull off a remarkable feat by creating a game that is both faithful to the original and unmistakeably modern. Final Fantasy VII has long been number two on my personal list of most-wanted video game remakes. What game could possibly outrank this 1997 classic? BioWare's space operatic sci-fi roleplaying game Mass Effect. The Mass Effect trilogy is considered an essential series in the modern RPG canon (controversial conclusion aside). It's a shame that the original game feels dated next to its sequels.
The first Mass Effect debuted in 2007, the same year that Electronic Arts purchased developer BioWare. Perhaps that timing is why Mass Effect 2, which released in 2011, feels like an entirely different concept from the original Mass Effect. With new resources at its disposal, BioWare reimagined most of the mechanics for Mass Effect 2 from the ground up. Combat is much more like a first-person shooter, though it maintains the biotics and engineering abilities of the original as well as the distinct character classes. But the way a class plays in Mass Effect 2 is such a departure from how it played in the first Mass Effect that BioWare felt it needed to write an opening sequence where the main character (Cmdr. Shephard, carrying over your choices from the first game) gets blown up, allowing players to rebuild them as a mean of calling a mulligan on their chosen character class. The game literally kills and resurrects its main protagonist in order for the level of upgrades the second game offers to make sense.
Mass Effect 3 continued the story from Mass Effect but, aside from some ill-advised forays into multiplayer, the gameplay is essentially the same as Mass Effect 2. The second game in the series flows seamlessly into the third game making them feel like they were cut from the same cloth.
And then there's the first Mass Effect, with its slow (by comparison) combat and half-baked ideas about how a cover system should work. The game was brilliant in its time and might be brilliant in a vacuum, but now it feels like a millstone around the Mass Effect trilogy's neck. I want to replay the Mass Effect trilogy in full, but the first game feels like a stumbling block. I would pay full price for a game that is Mass Effect in characters and narrative but with mechanics updated to match those in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3.
Such a remake would make the Mass Effect games feel like the cohesive trilogy they're meant to be. I'm begging you, BioWare. If a modernizing remake on the scale of Final Fantasy VII Remake can work out as well as it did, then this could too. At least consider it. The blueprints are all there. You just need to put them to work. And hey, this would be a fine holdover while we wait for whatever you have planned next for the Mass Effect franchise.