If you have played Mass Effect 3 – and since you are reading a DLC review for that game, the odds are good that you either have, or you are just a really big fan (much love) – then you no doubt have an opinion about the ending of the game. You also likely have an opinion on whether or not EA and BioWare did the right thing by releasing the extended ending following fan reaction that was the internet equivalent of a soccer stadium riot in England.
The main criticism of the ending, beyond the rhetoric and hyperbole from fans that felt like BioWare had personally targeted them to break their hearts, was twofold: First, the major complaint was that the final choices offered essentially negated every choice you made in a game that was defined by making choices. Second, the well written and carefully crafted interactions between Shepard and his/her crew were quickly skipped over and handled as almost an afterthought. Part of that was resolved in the extended ending, but even that was a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. The new ending slightly fleshed out the goodbyes – and did a decent job of it given the circumstances – but it still lacked a bit of punch. That is more or less the gap that Citadel fills.
With many DLCs, the content is simply additional, and the timing of the release doesn’t really matter – at least in the sense that you could play the DLC during your first playthrough and not notice or be affected by its placement. Citadel is a bit different.
The Citadel DLC is set before the final battle, but after certain major events on the Citadel itself that should be obvious to those that beat the game, but would be spoilerish to discuss if you haven’t. The placement is important though, and despite being accessible before the final battle, Citadel is best played after you have beaten the game.
The DLC is basically a comedic and lighthearted episode in the life of Shepard and his/her crew. It would have decimated the building tension of the original narrative and felt wildly out of place as part of the initial playthrough, but as an epilogue of sorts it is a endearing final moment that unites the cast of all the Mass Effect games (assuming they are all still alive in your playthrough) for one final gathering.
While on shore leave at the Citadel, Shepard is targeted by a mysterious group that wants him/her dead. In response to this threat, the entire cast of Mass Effect rallies to Shepard’s defense. The plot is secondary to the interactions of Shepard and his/her crew. You hunt down the new enemy – an enemy that is best left unspoiled but does lead to some very funny moments for Shepard to self-reflect – while generally bantering back and forth between your Shep and the two others you decide to take with you. The cutscenes between are also mostly comedic, as the game pokes a bit of fun at itself and characters do things like whine about not getting selected.
Once the combat portion has concluded, it all leads to an epic party at Shepard’s new apartment left to him by Admiral Anderson. Put simply, Anderson is something of a baller, and his pad allows you to see the crew relax and have some fun as they drink the night away. Once the story has finished you will retain access to the apartment, as well as the new section of the Citadel it is located in, the Silversun Strip. This area also houses a casino, an arcade, and a virtual shooting range minigame that awards you prizes for surviving waves of enemies. It’s a distraction, but not an unwelcome one.
Nothing said or done is a major addition to the established narrative, and yet it is an excellent way to see the cast assemble one final time before the game and the series comes to a conclusion. EA and BioWare aren’t done with the Mass Effect brand yet, not by a longshot, but this particular story line, the story of the Reapers invasion that began back in 2007, has been concluded. It’s unlikely that we’ll see these characters together again, so for all intents and purposes, this DLC is the final goodbye.
It won’t satisfy the fans specifically looking for more combat, but for those that bought into the story, those that felt robbed that the finale lacked a decent conclusion with the crew, then Citadel is made for you.
The only real issue with the DLC is that the $14.99 (1200 MS Pointa) price tag will only grant you about 4 hours of gameplay – although it does add the apartment and a new section that houses a few new minigames. If that doesn’t scare you off, thenCitadel is a surprisingly sweet and fun epilogue to what, despite mixed feelings on the ending, is still among the best gaming franchises of this generation.
(This DLC was reviewed on the Xbox 360 using a code provided by the publisher)
[This article has been updated to correct a typo. Thanks to our reader sean.kendrick for pointing it out.]