After almost six years together, the crew of the Normandy feel like personal friends. Over the course of three games and half a dozen sizeable pieces of DLC, Mass Effect fans have come to forge an emotional bond to what is essentially a group of NPCs.
Far from the dark, heavy war tone of Mass Effect 3 proper, BioWare’s last piece of story-driven DLC, Citadel, is a celebration of those bonds, providing long-time fans the ultimate send off and in a very real sense, closing off Commander Shepard’s story once and for all as the team refocuses and marches on into the franchises history.
Citadel doesn’t concern itself with the main game. Reapers and the overbearing threat they pose to the Galaxy is rarely brought up. Nor does it attempt to smooth over ‘that ending’, or make any further (and unneeded) apologises for it. The three/four hour long Citadel is instead fan-serve of the highest quality.
Aside from the emotional punch this last piece of DLC is capable of laying on you, Citadel sits right up there alongside Lair of the Shadow Broker and Overlord (at least in this writers opinion) in terms of quality production. The action is intense, the story tight and cohesive, with everything from the original cast returning for hours of new dialogue and an emotionally charged score written especially for this last outing. From all this, you can tell everyone who worked on it cared about this series, and that makes it special.
The story to be experienced here is only the first part of Citadel, with the second act seeing Shepard revisit old friends before throwing a huge party. At risk of spoiling anything, I’ll simply say it’s a very personal conflict Shepard has been tangled up into this time around. No thousand foot machine, no pro-human lunatic. Though despite how fresh the story feels, it pales in comparison to having all your squad mates come along for one, final mission together.
I’m sure this is something Mass Effect fans have long sought after since the Collector Base mission. And, to be quite frank it’s simply a joy. These characters feed off each other, make jokes at each other’s expense while mowing down waves of enemies who, as they all boast, never stood a chance against this legendary team.
All this comradery hits a head when an ambush takes Shepard by surprise, who calls for backup. Before he can even finish the order the entire squad comes to his aid, unleashing a highly overkill barrage of bullets, afterwhich Garrus cracks, “This is why I love hanging out with you guys. Why kill something once when you can kill it sixty-four times over,”
When Citadel shifts into more character driven moments all the action becomes an afterthought, and it’s here where the strength of not only the DLC, but the Mass Effect series as a whole, shines brightest. For those who’ve been with the series since day one it’s been a six year journey with these characters, and thanks to their incredible personalities they’ve transcended from simple NPC squadmates to believable characters that feel as real as your actual friends. Citadel presents you the chance to find closure with each of these characters, and even though scenes can be rather brief, there really is that sense of finality that is... nice to have.
Though of course it’s not all emotions all the time, with Citadel packing in a lot of self-referencing jokes that will have series fans laughing and grinning the whole way through. From poking fun at Shepard’s “I must go”, to the infamous elevator scenes from the first game and more, it’s the light-hearted moments like these that go alongside the more emotional scenes - such as a funeral service for a certain character which is particularly moving - that make up the entire Mass Effect experience; deeply personal.
Citadel is a perfect send-off for a series that has elevated itself to be one of the finest in gaming’s history. After playing it through and saying goodbye to everything Mass Effect has become over the past six years, I’m left with a real sense of closure. To quote the closing lines of dialogue simply because it captures the moment both within the DLC and the series as a whole so well, “It’s been a good ride,”, to which your Shepard replies, “The best...”.
By Jayden Williams