Mass Effect 3: Citadel Review
- Posted March 18th, 2013 at 01:51 EDT by Kyle Prahl
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For hearkening back to fond series memories, and for its heartfelt goodbye to characters we love, Citadel is Mass Effect 3's best single-player DLC and a worthy send-off to Shepard's crew.
- Awesome fan service and humor
- Familiar faces and fond farewells
- Interesting, if silly, story
- Cramped environments highlight combat woes
- Too few dialogue choices
- Apartment customization is shallow
Replaying the Mass Effect trilogy in recent weeks has thrown the series, and what it means to gaming, into sharp relief. The tragic journey of Commander Shepard united some of history's most memorable characters across race and gender, across species and sexuality. The fates of these men and women—our favorites—were brazenly intertwined with player liberty. Expression through choices, emotion through living with those choices... Citadel, the final single-player expansion to the trilogy's marvelous conclusion, makes parting such sweet sorrow. Saying goodbye to my friends, your friends—the exotic faces we've learned to love—is this off-key adventure's theme, but there's something brighter buried in the melancholic depths. My knowledge of the Normandy SR-2's doomed voyage made every tearful farewell, every joke that pulled on heartstrings, and every knowing smile a reminder of why I fell in love with this band of misfits in the first place. Shepard's comrades are some of gaming's most compelling; Citadel gives them a proper send-off that's worthy of the ride.
This particular ride is tonally different from just about anything else in the series, and certainly Mass Effect 3 at large. A bout of repairs to the Normandy puts the crew on shore leave, but Shepard gets the sweetest deal. Captain Anderson leaves you his swanky, two-story Citadel apartment—turns out humanity's upscaled decorative sense hasn't changed much in 173 years. Warm fires, waterfalls, wet bars, and sushi await. At the Citadel's top destination for the latter—because we've crossed firmly into tongue-in-cheek territory at this point—Shepard and Joker's night out is crashed by a mercenary group with a taste for theatrics. These guys are out for Shepard's head, which means there's someone or something behind the curtain pulling the strings.
Unraveling this thread comprises the first half of Citadel's four-hour-plus expansion, and it's a compelling (albeit strange) yarn. When Shepard and Joker's night out for sushi becomes the story's logical anchor, you know you're in for a divisive trip. Admittedly, the threat of an unexpected (totally ret-conned) enemy brings together past and present crewmates in a meaningful way. Any excuse to fight alongside Wrex, to hear Jack and Miranda bicker one more time, or to see Samara loosen up and crack a joke is a moment I treasure. Citadel offers these moments, and countless others, in spades. You'll have to trudge through a couple hours of filler combat to reach the good stuff, though. If, like me, you haven't touched Mass Effect 3 in almost a year, expect a somewhat rude awakening. Citadel demands a good deal of skill you may have lost since finishing Shepard's story, and the early moments of difficulty highlight combat mechanics that were only just good enough to ignore the first time around. Never mind the tight indoor environments littered with objects—when your squad actually breaks the fourth wall and makes fun of how awkward movement is, it's hard to disagree.
But before long, the conflict is resolved in spectacular fashion, and the real fun can begin. Shepard and crew gear up for a night of partying before returning to war with—what were they again? Reapers? The sentient machines two fat *wubs* away from exterminating all life in the galaxy? What about that Crucible thing, our only hope of saving the galaxy? No? We're gonna share some beers and watch biotiball instead? Ok.
All things in good time, I guess.
In Bioware's defense, the diversion is worthwhile. You can explore new areas and meet old friends for conversations and antics that put a wrap on gaming's greatest sci-fi epic. Wrex and Grunt butt heads over tank-bred superiority; a naïve EDI quizzes Traynor on her sexuality; and stoic Garrus hits on a Turian female (yes, a Turian female!). The intense love Bioware has for its characters (and fans) shines through. An overwhelming number of permutations for how these characters reunite and interact (let alone which of them are still alive) warrant multiple playthroughs; it will take more than the requisite two or three to see everything on offer. These moments of fan service are intense: heartbreaking for the end we know is coming, yet comforting for the men and women we'll never forget.
In the end, that's what Citadel is all about. No matter your feelings on where the journey ended up, the ride was worth it, and it touched gamers in ways we'll still be unraveling years down the line. Mass Effect will be remembered not for its hybrid shooter-RPG mechanics, nor even for the lore and codex entries that created a galaxy worth exploring. Mass Effect will be remembered for the way it made us feel—for the characters that captured our hearts—in a generation that harbored the genesis of powerful, emotive gaming experiences. Citadel cements this legacy.
- 12:50pm EDT - March 18th, 2013
I have to disagree. While I think the Citadel is a fair send off, I think it exposes many of the poor storyline decisions that were taken in the games third installment and just reminds you of how blisteringly bad Mass Effect 3's story actually was. You mention Miranda and Jack, seriously are there any crew mates in Mass Effect 3 that stand up to either of them? Or Mordin, or Grunt, or... you get the picture. I have no problem with tragic endings. I always felt that Shepherd was a doomed hero from the start. However the ending for Mass Effect 3 was a cop out of the highest order, and made no sense. It also rendered every single galaxy changing decision you'd made prior to that point meaningless and worthless. That would have been fine, if the ending made any sense at all. But it didn't. Poor writing in the third installment ruined the game and the franchise for me, and this weird DLC doesn't really make me remember the franchise fondly, it just annoyed me at how Bioware squandered a glorious opportunity to make something truly great. So we ended up with a choice between a red, green or blue explosions. Something that Bioware promised most definitely wouldn't happen!!! They let us all down badly.
- 3:14pm EDT - March 18th, 2013
^^ ^ It's over I think they did the best they could. They made a mistake but thats no reason to not give em a second chance. This DLC was what we needed all along. It's not about the ending more about the journey. The ending was bad but im over it now. It's sad you let those things ruin a franchise for you. no matter what Bioware does not everyones going to be happy about it. Iv'e been a fan sense 2007 when the first came out. I have enjoyed every second of it. THough the last 2 games needed more RPG element to it. I still enjoyed the characters. The feeling the series gave you was amazing and well done. This DLC made me remember the good times I had witht the crew. seeing the whole crew togethor was very touching. The only chacter that was poorily done in this DLC to me was Jacob. sadly. The endings with 3 simular endings makes sesne when they might make a sequel series. The destroy ending was the only ending where shepard lives. THe ending make more sense now that I saw levathan. Red = Renegade blue = paragon green = Nutrual. Illuvive man wanted control. Saren wanted Synthisis. Anderson wanted to destroy. those three have been the theme all along for ending choices we make. This DLC if good writng compared to the ending this DLC was to say farwell to Shepard and his crew. and it was a blast. So don't think so negative and look at the positeve things about what makes Mass Effect great. And if you think there are none then Mass Effect is not for you.
- 6:19pm EDT - March 18th, 2013
@Austin Clark... if Mass Effect 3 was the best Bioware could've done then I think they're in far worse trouble than many currently think they are. the DLC wasn't what was needed, it might be a welcome addition for some, and I enjoyed what miniscule content was contained within. Seriously it is a tiny amount of content and I just don't think it is anywhere near worth the asking price. Genuinely, the ending wasnt the main problem with Mass Effect 3 for me, it was just the icing on what was a truly awful cake.
I can't begin to explain the myriad of reasons as to why Mass Effect 3 was a truly dire addition to the Mass Effect franchise. Look I along with many other could accept the games loss of it's RPG roots. Even though the actual action adventure gameplay was mediocre at best, we didn't really play the Mass Effect games for the action did we really? No we played them because of the cast, the universe, Shepherd and the story. To be frank the third installment was badly written from start to finish.
It was only able to illicit an emotinal response from gamers by blunt methods, i.e. killing character from Mass Effect 2 we actually cared about. Seriously think about it, would you have been as upset if it was the painfilly cliched James vega they killed off? NO!!! He was an awfully written character, well I say character, but he had none. Truth is they failed hard. By the end of Mass Effect 3 I didn't even care anymore, and when they laughably bad logic of the Catalyst kicked in I just wanted to finish it off because I'd had enough.
I know there's alot of people out there who want to cling tp the fact that the ending made sense and that it was a good story arc in 3, but I just can't buy it. I recently re-purchased the Mass Effect trilogy for PS3 and played through them again to see if I'd mellowed out of how bad, cliched, full of plot holes and tired the writting was in Mass Effect 3. Sadly playing the game so soon after playing 1 and 2 just confirmed the nose dive in narrative quality from the start right up to the damp squib of an ending.
I can't really explain just how bad I think the game truly was in this comments section. Perhaps I should write an article to explain it all. But what I will say is this, I wouldn't have had such an adverse reaction to it if I didn't think the first two games were some of the best games I've ever played... and that just makes the awful third installment even more tradgic. What a waste.
- 6:27pm EDT - March 18th, 2013
@3 You're more than welcome to write an article explaining your feelings... and it COULD end up on our front-page! Check out our Community Opinions section: http://www.psu.com/forums/forumdisplay.php/193-Community-Opinions
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