Mass Effect 3: Citadel DLC for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
The phrase ‘fan service’ has a strongly negative connotation, to the point that any usage of the word is taken as derogatory, but Mass Effect 3’s Citadel DLC is proof that, sometimes, giving your fans exactly what they want is the right thing to do. Given the context of the vast backlash Bioware received over the ending to the Mass Effect series, Citadel stands out as an even greater achievement, a release which understands exactly what it is that makes Mass Effect great.
Shepard, on mandatory shore leave on the Citadel whilst the Normandy is being repaired, is gifted the apartment of David Anderson whilst he fights on Earth. With a new home base in the Citadel, Shepard begins to enjoy his leave with a spot of sushi with Joker before he/she is attacked by a mysterious crew of mercenaries and sent falling into the bowels of the Citadel. Shepard brings his/her entire crew together to fight off the new threat, a surprising and intriguing antagonist. This is only the first half the DLC however, with the second half largely revolving around a party at Shepard’s new apartment, which brings back almost every surviving squad mate from the entire trilogy in one final bash.
My main issue with the Omega DLC is that we didn’t actually get any opportunity to enjoy what made Omega great as a setting, and were instead treated to a series of shooting galleries in familiar locales. The first half of Citadel looks to be the same, as the player fights their way through a few linear locations, but after the main antagonist is defeated the player gains access to ‘Silversun Strip’ the entertainment district of the Citadel, filled with a casino and an arcade (full of playable games), as well as a surprisingly well developed arena combat ring. Rather than being rushed away from the new locations as we were in previous Mass Effect 3 DLCs, the new areas of Citadel can be returned to at any point. The Citadel is a great location, and one which I’m always happy to see more of. I’d like to see a Mass Effect spin off set entirely on the Citadel one day, perhaps following a C-Sec officer, and the location is done justice in this DLC just as Omega wasn’t in its titular DLC.
Citadel takes a notably lighter hearted tone than the majority of the game. Although it takes place before the ending of the game, the Reaper threat feels oddly distant from everything that’s happening, lending this DLC as ‘Christmas special’ feeling to it. That’s not a criticism; the pressing nature of the Reaper threat forced the plot into a more aggressive and action packed narrative which I felt was to Mass Effect 3’s detriment compared to its predecessors, so a DLC which doesn’t focus upon the imminent destruction of all galactic life is actually a nice change of pace. The actual plot of the first half of the DLC is quite good, and plays with some interesting questions, but it’s the second half of the DLC as Shepard talks to his crew members, past and present, and organises a party with them all together which I truly treasure. As much as I was laughing during the hilarious party scenes, I also felt somewhat heartbroken knowing that I would never see these characters again. Whether it’s a charmingly drunk Tali, Miranda and Jack continuing their bickering from Mass Effect 2, Grunt and Wrex trying to ‘out-Krogan’ each other, I was never less than entirely charmed throughout. Even characters who have died make appearances through audio and visual messages. Citadel offers an absolutely perfect conclusion to the trilogy, offering us a moment of happiness for us to treasure, a perfect balm for the weak and unsatisfying ending to the main game. There are just so many wonderful, beautiful moments in this DLC, which made me realise how truly special this cast of characters Bioware created are.
The shift of focus away from shooting is appreciated here, although the shooting is still fun, and culminates in one of my favourite boss fights in the series. There’s a fun scene in which Shepard and a companion infiltrate a casino, which involves no shooting at all, which given the action focus of Omega is a good change of pace. The new mini games on the Citadel are fun, as is the arena combat. Bioware made a lot of effort in this DLC, more than they really needed to, making Citadel really seem like a labour of love rather than a cynical marketing ploy.
The new environments look wonderful, with the decadent gaudiness of the Silversun Strip offering us the sort of location we haven’t really seen much in the Mass Effect series. We glimpsed this sort of thing in the DLC which introduced Kasumi Goto in Mass Effect 2, but we were never able to immerse ourselves in it as much as we are here. The real coup Bioware pulled here was the voice acting return of almost every major character, alive or dead, with the only real exceptions being Legion and Dr. Chakwas. All of the characters are as wonderfully performed as ever, with the return of relatively famous actors such as Seth Green as Joker, Tricia Helfer as EDI and Yvonne Strahovski as Miranda coming as a pleasant surprise. Every character is given a time to shine; I particularly enjoyed our favourite hipster Prothean Javik, who delivered some of the funniest lines. The thought of how much Bioware must have spent on the voice cast for this DLC easily makes the asking price worthwhile.
Mass Effect 3: Citadel is an essential for anyone who cares about the Mass Effect series. Skip all the other DLCs and you won’t miss much, but I implore you not to skip this one. Citadel is the perfect conclusion to the trilogy, and offers the catharsis which the ending failed to offer. Thanks to Citadel, when I think of Mass Effect 3 it won’t be with bitterness and disappointment; this is the most essential piece of DLC that I have ever played.