Mass Effect 3: Citadel or ‘I’ve just played a wonderful fanfiction’
Note: the review does not contain spoilers beyond what you could see in the trailer.
If someone would have told me a story about Commander Shepard obtaining his or her apartment and throwing a party for every friend, about everyone at this party getting drunk, about Garrus and Zaeed joining forces in attempt to set booby-traps all over the place just because they thought someone could assault them any moment, about absolutely smashed Tali trying to imitate the sounds of the Normandy engines while barely standing on her feet, with Grunt and Wrex trying to start a fight on the second floor, and about Shepard waking up the next morning in the embrace of his or her lover thinking about having a good morning sex but then discovering Javik on the floor of their bathroom with a terrible hangover, I would have probably started to think that it was a plot of a classical fanfiction.
But, no matter how unreal it might sound for anyone who ever played the Mass Effect series, it was exactly what most of the Mass Effect 3: Citadel DLC, which came out March 5th, was about.
Of course, the very last DLC for the game started with a more serious plot where, while on an unexpected but well-deserved shore leave, the entire crew of the Normandy discovered that Commander Shepard had obtained a mysterious enemy who has not only tried to eliminate the commander, but steal his/her entire life.
After seeing the trailer for the DLC, there were many rumors and guesses of who the big bad could be this time. But despite how far the fandom took this guessing game, the reveal of the antagonist honestly left me with a dropped jaw.
I also have to admit that I was really skeptical about the DLC after finding out that the action was taking place not after the ending of the game, as I really hoped, but in the middle of it. I had not the slightest idea what else it was possible to add, since every important detail of the Mass Effect world and Shepard’s life had been already described. Even though this time not one or two, but eight writers worked on the story, it didn’t seem possible.
The writers dealt with this problem by taking an absolutely different road, moving away from the main plotline and creating a snippet filled with action and comedy relief, which seemed like an entirely different genre from the mostly serious and filled with dark undertones Mass Effect 3 game.
Because of this solution, the downloadable content didn’t affect the overall story nor the endings of Mass Effect 3 at all (the only thing you got from it was a miserable amount of EMS points, way less than in any other DLC available for the game). From this point of view, it felt like the DLC was pointless, like a filler episode you could skip and lose nothing.
This in its turn led to another noticeable minus – the lack or even entire absence of the role playing element. Remember the other moments of the game where you had to choose what to do, where your decisions counted in the overall gameplay, changing the way you interact with characters and the flow of the story? Well, here you got none of it. While going through the dialogues you rarely were given an opportunity to even choose the response, and even when you were given this opportunity you only could pick between the renegade and paragon options (which sometimes was the difference between ‘I will end you’ and ‘I will end you painfully’). The left ‘investigate’ side of the dialogue wheel appeared no more than three or four times and even when it did, there was only one option to pick.
The opportunity of decorating your own apartment, which made people joke about Mass Effect going Sims, also came out like a total nonsense because of how little you could actually do with the apartment. In fact, running around the Citadel, I only discovered one store selling the furniture and all of it looked nearly like the one I have already had, just in a different color (would it really change the perspective on the game if Shepard’s kitchen cabinets were white or red instead of brown?). You couldn’t even change the location of anything around, so overall the idea of personalizing the living place seemed to me like a waste of time of the game developers.
There was also little to discover in the apartment but some data-pads left by the previous owner – Admiral Anderson – which made the apartment idea seem even less interesting. Basically there was a lot of space and nothing to look at. Especially it seemed this way in a comparison with your own quarters on board of the Normandy, where by the end of the game you had so many little things you collected and brought there.
And I will not even start going through some minor game glitches where a few times the textures weren’t loading or some characters seemed half merged with objects like chairs or tables, or really strange camera angles from time to time, because for all I know it could have been simply the problems with my X-Box.
So, the DLC didn’t add a thing to the overall plot of ‘Commander Shepard preventing the end of the world’ arc. Some of the ideas, even if they seemed interesting at first, weren’t implemented right and left little options for roleplaying. Was this last chapter of the game really worth the time and money?
Yes it was.
The snippet, no matter how much it looked like a wet dream of a fanfiction writer, altogether came out to be a great addition to the series, especially after everything the developers have put the fans through. The humor was broad and enjoyable, the plot was attention-grabbing and the possibility to interact with the majority of the characters, people who we like and care about, was pleasing.
The romance component of every BioWare game has always been a strong point, and the Mass Effect series is a bright example of it. After the release of the previous DLC, Mass Effect 3: Omega, where there weren’t any interactions with the love interest nor the rest of your crew, BioWare decided to take a different route with the romantic plot arc as well (no-one could possibly withstand the rage of the fans). So the amount of interactions and dialogue between Shepard and the love interest was increased noticeably. In fact, I think I won’t be making a mistake in saying that there were as many romantic moments here as in the rest of Mass Effect 3 combined. And, damn, they were good.
New locations were well-designed and interesting to explore. It had a few mini-games to try out, where I lost several thousand credits trying to get a toy from a game machine. It also had an arena, which might be highly interesting for people who enjoy some extra shooting. The Arena was very similar to the Pinnacle Station from the first Mass Effect, but while in the first game you had to purchase an entire DLC for it, here it came in a bundle with the rest of the content.
Summing everything up, I once again want to say that I didn’t regret playing this DLC even if some of the moments were disappointing. It still was funny, it was entertaining, it was light-hearted. It was a perfect final note to the series, so if you enjoyed the games because of the story, the complex and developed characters and the romance, or just want to forget about every painful memory and every tear shed (or the most of them), you will not regret trying it out. But if you the kind of the person who prefers to run around with guns, shooting left and right, killing things… why have you even started to play this series at the first place?
Publisher: Electronic Arts;
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U;
Genre: Action role-playing, third-person shooter;
Screenshots by Kunari