(Spoiler alert – This review contains a few mild spoilers about ME3: Citadel. No major twists or turns revealed however. This does contain a spoiler for Mass Effect 3 finale, so skip the first paragraph if you do not wish to know.)
Mass Effect 3 broke my heart. After three solid games full of fighting, friendships and romance, the game threw its fans a major curveball. All those carefully thought out decisions that plotted your objective for the game? Yeah, well, it turns out they didn’t matter too much. Fans were outraged, and Bioware, the creators of the Mass Effect Trilogy tried to provide some closure with a downloadable extended ending. Unfortunately it didn’t really do the trick. In a recent column, I lamented the fate of my Femshep and wondered if this new DLC, Citadel would just prove to be bittersweet. As it turns out, it was exactly what I needed to say goodbye to Shepard and the crew of the Normandy.
The Mass Effect series has done a tremendous amount of things right. Bioware has been open to and implemented a lot of player feedback, including most importantly, same sex romantic options. For me, playing as a female Shepard and being able to have a significant lesbian relationship, made Mass Effect ascend to a level beyond a mere video game. Indeed, Mass Effect is more space opera than game. Few games deal with race and class issues with the same level of reflection and sensitivity. Cut scenes and story elements are beautifully written and compelling, the gameplay fast and frenetic. Citadel DLC is no exception. I’ve played all the Mass Effect 3 DLCs and I found Citadel to be my favorite by far. It is not a continuation of the finale, but rather a completely separate mission. It’s shore leave time, and Commander Shepard and crew are ordered to get a little R & R on the Citadel while the Normandy gets some much needed tuning up. Captain Anderson appears via satellite and hands over the virtual keys to his apartment to Shepard.
This DLC opens up new and exciting area of the Citadel’s Wards, which includes a casino, combat arena, and even a sushi restaurant, which is where Shepard starts the real journey of Citadel. A new character, Staff Analyst Maya Brooks (who, FYI named an intelligence program after her cat, Mr. Biscuits) interrupts Shepard and Joker’s sashimi to inform them that someone is trying to kill the Commander. Here we go again.
Shepard finds herself once again in someone’s crosshairs. In my play-though, my romantic interest Liara T’Soni shows up early to give my Shepard a hand and a little hell about this new, fine mess. The dialogue in this sequence is amazing and shows how much Liara and Shepard have grown in their relationship.
It’s also quite funny. In fact, much of Citadel is light-hearted and humorous, especially when poking fun at itself. Mass Effect becomes self aware, and its unbelievably delightful. It’s such a lovely contrast to the very heavy and emotionally draining finale of Mass Effect 3. Citadel also really plays up the elements of friendship and camaraderie amongst Shepard and her crew, one of the most endearing things about the Mass Effect series in my opinion. In fact, the whole damn Normandy team shows up to assist Shepard in her missions, which does not typically happen in a DLC. I couldn’t stop myself from grinning ear to ear when this happened:
Citadel has so many great moments, that divulging too much would spoil the surprise. When the bad guy was revealed, I was completely shocked. It’s an amazing twist. You get more time to spend and interact with your love interest, which is a major plus for this romantic gamer. Citadel also gives us something I never thought we’d see. Commander Shepard, undercover, in a dress.
Overall, Mass Effect 3: Citadel delivered much more than I expected. After playing through, I felt satisfied and at peace with the journey that Commander Shepard and I had taken together. While Citadel can be placed anywhere within the game, I recommend saving it for the absolute end. Check your personal terminal for messages. Take your time, talk to your crew, play a little roulette. Enjoy this one last sweet taste at the end of an epic meal. Mass Effect 3: Citadel is available for download now on Xbox, Playstation 3 and PC for $14.99.
p.s. Make sure to ask Tali about her tattoo. It’s so worth it.