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Mass Effect 3 Citadel: The Perfect Send-Off?

One last round for Shepard and co.

Without even mentioning the game’s controversial ending, Mass Effect 3 was troubled by a number of divisive plot points that weighed down the overall experience.

One such flaw was the game’s time-scale and skewed sense of urgency. Mass Effect 3 hit the ground running with its explosive opening, making it clear that everything was to play for. The only thing missing was a gigantic clock, counting down to the galaxy’s impending demise as the Reapers machinations moved towards destructive fruition.

BioWare has yet to reach the heights of ME2′s Lair of the Shadow Broker.

However, even with humanity on the brink of extinction, Shepard and the crew still found time to run petty errands, from gathering medical supplies to investigating ancient fossils. Side-quests may be essential to any good role-playing game, but the substance that underpinned them created an awkward sense of disjointedness. It seems BioWare haven’t learned from their mistake, as the same issue pervades the majority of Mass Effect 3′s final singleplayer expansion, Citadel.

As always, Javik is on top form, delivering some of Citadel’s finest moments.

Situated on the galaxy’s central space station, Citadel opens with an invitation from Admiral Anderson. He informs Shepard that the Normandy is in need of “emergency repairs” and should dock immediately. As the Alliance engineers get to work, the commander is told to retire to Anderson’s luxury apartment but things don’t stay quiet for long…

After being ambushed by a group of mercenaries, players soon find themselves embroiled in yet another perilous mission. However, unlike previous exploits, Shepard’s latest intergalactic foray adopts a much more light-hearted tone.

Without giving too much away, Citadel revolves around a long-forgotten Cerberus initiative, opportunistic outlaws, and a short-lived identity crisis.

These core story beats are laughably (and perhaps deliberately) cheesy, though ultimately play second fiddle to the frequent and often humorous interactions between Shepard and the supporting cast.

In terms of playable content, Citadel’s main story arc will clock in at around two hours and, in truth, isn’t as inspiring as previous downloadable episodes. Gunfights are, for the most part, bland and delivered at a sluggish pace, despite new enemies being thrown into the mix. Luckily, as Shepard’s latest adventure comes to an end, the expansion leads straight into its second chapter, centred around Shepard and the Normandy crew.

Still on shore leave, players are given the option to throw a party at Anderson’s private pad, opening up an entire new section of the Citadel, the Silversun Strip. Littered with shops, mini-games, and character-focused instances, it becomes a permanent location that can be revisited at any time, its main attraction being the Armax Arsenal Arena.

Here, players can adjust parameters to create their own combat scenarios, selecting which opponents to fight, where to fight them, and who with. Though fairly basic, the arena’s scoring system gives the combat simulation some much needed incentive, rewarding players with tokens that can then be cashed in to to unlock more variables. Players can even enlist returning squad mates to fight alongside them including Miranda, Jack, Grunt, Samara, Wrex and several others.

There’s more than meets the eye when visiting the Armax Arena.

The party itself is best described as a sequence of dialogue choices, punctuated by a wealth of character interactions. It’s clear that BioWare had plenty of fun scripting this final half of the expansion, with extracts of self-aware humour that even joke about the game’s ending and the controversy surrounding it.

It’s a good laugh to say the least but, when all is said and done, one can’t help but realise how detached Citadel is from the rest of Mass Effect 3, both in tone and context. Some will no doubt call it the highlight of the entire series whereas others will be equally inclined to ignore it entirely. In many ways it can be said that BioWare’s final expansion is just as divisive as the core game itself.

Citadel is fairly chunky expansion and if you’re the sort of non-purist who wasn’t all the phased by the game’s ending, there’s no reason not to buy it. However, if you were left alienated, not just by the trilogy’s conclusion but by its network of narrative plot-holes, sitting out this final expansion may be a good call.

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7 Comments
  1. Trupl0
    Member
    Since: Jun 2010

    Really loved the Citadel DLC but had trouble playing it as I played the ME3 a year ago. Had trouble using the controls for the first 15 minutes. The result was dying over and over again :)
    The DLC made me miss my squad mates, Garrus, Liara, Tali and it made me sad knowing that the ME franchise is over. I got past loathing the ME3 ending so I really don`t give a damn about it but would love to see new DLC for Mass Effect.
    For example, playing Legion`s would be awesome!

    Comment posted on 26/03/2013 at 10:21.
  2. Trupl0
    Member
    Since: Jun 2010

    as Legion* :)

    Comment posted on 26/03/2013 at 10:22.
  3. cam the man
    Member
    Since: May 2009

    Downloaded this as part of the PS+ games collection but haven’t started it yet. Citadel sounds good so if I enjoy the game I’ll give it a go.

    Comment posted on 26/03/2013 at 11:49.
  4. FoxHoundGabe
    Member
    Since: Mar 2010

    The biggest problem of ME3 is the illusion that your choices matter anything, when they actually dont.

    Im starting to believe that bioware are not that talented after all, they were just lucky with the first ME (which also has lots of problems, but overall was a great and exciting experience).

    Comment posted on 26/03/2013 at 11:50.
  5. psychobudgie
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    Possible Spoiler Alert
    ——————————–

    If you listen to the AI guide in Citadel, paying particular attention to the location and term ‘Purgatory’ it gives the impression that it may in fact be exactly that. In itself, if that is the case, it’s a rather fitting and poetic finish to the game in that Shepherd gets to spend eternity with his/her mates. Certainly better than the original mess of an ending.

    Comment posted on 26/03/2013 at 12:05.
  6. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    Almost finished ME1 now and will probably replay ME2 soon but I’m holding out for the ME3 goty edition which should include all the dlc.

    Comment posted on 26/03/2013 at 12:23.
  7. RudeAwakening
    Member
    Since: Jan 2011

    I may be the only one but i actually enjoyed the ending of Mass Effect 3 and found it quite fitting to the whole saga.

    Comment posted on 26/03/2013 at 22:14.

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