Mass Effect 3: Citadel
Mass Effect 3 had a few troubles around its release, nothing compared to EA’s recent fun with Sim City and Dead Space 3, but at the time it made waves. The biggest issue was the ending, which people felt didn’t cover enough of the repercussions to the whole cast, they felt ownership of Bioware’s story because they’d made a few arbitrary decisions along the way. It was weird, and I didn’t see that as a problem. All the whining, bitching and complaining was paid off with an ‘extended ending’ to try and placate them.
I didn’t mind the ending, it felt right for what my Shepard would have done. The problems I had weren’t anything to do with that, but with the invasion of the grimdark into another game and the lack of flavourful fluff to help you have fun in the game. Fortunately, the Citadel DLC answers all of that and more.
Citadel is big, like really big. As the hub of galactic civilisation and an ancient Prothean artefact all rolled into one that’s understandable, but no, I mean the DLC. It’s two files clocking in a scratch under four gig, and it’s a real love letter to the fans of the Mass Effect series which I’m pleased to say provides hours of entertainment and a few lovely little emotional moments for our man (or woman) Shep.
The DLC starts with Captain Anderson bequeathing you his luxury home on the Citadel as he’s busy fighting aliens on Earth and unlikely to get back up there any time soon. There’s a flimsy brushing off of Shepard taking some down time while everyone else in the galaxy dies at Reaper hands but go with it, as it’s worth it. After exploring your swanky new home, a meeting with Joker goes awry in the way it must when Shepard goes outside to do anything these days. I imagine a simple trip to the laundrette must end with him using washing machines as cover while biotic-throwing Cerberus agents all over the place. You uncover a scheme someone’s hatched specifically targeting Shepard for some nefarious reason.
I won’t go into who the vengeful party is as it’d ruin the surprise. Their presence is a bit of a leap, but it’s an easy enough one to get behind as this is science fiction, after all. Unlike Omega, this isn’t simple corridor shooting with a pair of NPCs who are only used in the DLC itself. You have full access to your team and even Wrex joins the fun (if he survived this far). The story is entertaining and has humorous moments without lessening the stakes of the story. The levels go from stealth in confined areas to shootouts in shopping districts, running around docking bays, a spy mission in a casino and more Shepard dancing.
Once the mission is complete, you are given access to customise the furniture in your home, Sims-style, and to a new area of the Citadel. In this area there’s the casino from the main mission, a VR fighting arena and an arcade with grabby crane machines and a weird starship chess kind of board game. New cutscenes with characters like Traynor, Garrus and Kasumi are available in this zone. The casino brings back Quasar from Mass Effect, roulette and gambling on varren. The arcade has several little games Shepard can play and weirdly some he can’t (or won’t).
The Armax Arsenal Arena is the area with the most scope, with customisable VR levels, enemies and teams which include any surviving NPCs from ME1 & 2. Winning rounds against opponents gains you tokens redeemable for more modifications to the arena mode. It’s an entertaining time sink and it’s nice to play alongside Jack and Kasumi again, even if it’s in VR. The final part of this DLC is a party thrown by Shepard for all the surviving members of his teams, past and present. Even though the gameplay is simply wandering around and talking to the NPCs, fans of the series will love the chatter between them all, and a nice moment to enjoy the cast together without having to be on a mission.
Compared to the macho hoo-rah-ing thugs in most modern shootybangs, the cast of the Mass Effect series resonate with fans. Each have their favourites (Liara, Garrus), their hated characters (James, Jacob), and seeing them all one last time before the big push works so well here because if you’ve got this far, you’ve probably invested at least 70 hours into ME 1 & 2 alone. You know the universe and you know the people. That’s why it’s great having a final mission where EVERYONE is involved in one way or another, and then the party just to top it off. In my eyes, this trumps even Lair of the Shadow Broker, which was the final and best DLC of Mass Effect 2.
I loved Citadel, and I’m looking forward to going through it again with my second playthrough, seeing how it fits when integrated to the game as a whole. For the last piece of DLC in the Mass Effect trilogy, this is a perfect goodbye, and a final high for the series.
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