Thursday, 14 March 2013

Mass Effect 3 - The Citadel DLC

Endings can be a bittersweet ordeal; especially if it belongs to a series you’re particularly passionate and enthusiastic about. For me, Mass Effect has been one of these, having fallen in love with the game almost instantly after playing the first one way back when. It’s a game I have spent the most amount of time playing, carefully and lovingly creating different stories for Commander Shepard and his/her crew. Now that I’ve come to terms with the actual ending for Mass Effect 3 (only after the extended content, may I add), I would easily place the series as my favourite trilogy ever released (waiting on you, Dragon Age 3....) So, as you can guess, I was incredibly excited (and a tiny bit sad) when Bioware announced their final piece of DLC titled ‘The Citadel’. I’ll admit, part of me was a little dubious though – their last instalment ‘Omega’ was a little lacklustre – but I scraped some points together and got downloading.
As the title suggests, the content takes place on the heart of all galactic civilisation – the Citadel. Shepard takes the Normandy for some much needed TLC, agreeing to meet Joker for some sushi in a restaurant and from there, all hell breaks loose. I don’t want to give too many spoilers away regarding the plot for obvious reasons, but let’s just say that it wasn’t what I was actually expecting to happen. It has some good twists and turns, as well as leaving you a little bit frustrated at one point (not in a bad way though.) It adds a couple of interesting and well written characters to the mix, as well as bringing back some of the old faces. You can’t help but feel nostalgic.

The first part of the DLC brings a great mix of different scenarios to the table. You’ve got a great stealth based section, involving a silence pistol (particularly fun if you’re playing Infiltrator, like me). There’s a fun undercover mission regarding a casino and then your usual all out firefights in some interesting locations (my favourite being a used car shop – very classy.) Each section is equally as enjoyable for different reasons, although I was a little bit disappointed by one of the locations, as I would have liked to have had more time to explore it (don’t wanna give any spoilers, but it had some great potential for some nice additions to the lore of the game.)
The enemies in the game are a new ‘faction’ as it were. They blatantly take design concepts from Cerberus and fight more or less the same, but there a few changes. Their version of Guardians are particularly nasty, carrying weird shields and a machine gun that really hurts. I got forced into some really nasty corners at times, especially after being pinned down by their snipers (who take off a lot more damage than Cerberus’ Nemesis...and can go invisible.) So yes, the combat keeps you on your toes but it’s not uncomfortably difficult, allowing the content flow nicely. The casino section is well placed and also helps to break up the endless gunfire and killing things (a trait that Omega suffered from, I think.) 

The greatest thing about this DLC though, isn’t the story per say. Nor is it the action and set pieces you have to fight through. It’s the pure fan service that this content oozes. I absolutely loved it! Every single second is fun, hilarious and just simply enjoyable – I mean, I sat up till stupid o’clock playing it because I couldn’t put it down. And I’ve never laughed so much out loud either whilst gaming (well, Portal aside). The dialogue is witty and the banter between the teams is just fantastic, showcasing the great sense of comradeship between the characters that have been through thick and thin since the beginning. It also has its ‘heart-warming moments, where I felt genuinely touched by what was going on around me.

The second part of the DLC couldn’t be any more different. After Anderson leaves you his apartment so you can get some well earned R&R, you can casually interact with the other members of your team. Despite all the fun I had shooting up the place, this part of the ‘Citadel’ DLC was actually my favourite. As you may have guess from my previous reviews of things, I’m a big fan of characters and their development throughout the story. This section of the DLC is a chance to spend time with the characters again, and it brings some truly quality moments to the game. One of the missions you have to complete is to throw a party and you can invite whoever you like over to have a good time and get drunk with you. Sounds a little weird/petty, but honestly, seeing all the Normandy crew together in the same room, having fun is actually rather tear jerking. They stand around, having playful banter and fun despite their differences in beliefs/backgrounds – it makes for a truly moving scene. Plus the party itself is actually hilarious. Just wandering round rewards you with some fantastic conversations, although I think Zaeed and Garrus kinda steal the show, surprisingly.

Now the Normandy team are a strong cast of individuals, this DLC makes sure that every character gets their time to shine. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say that I ended up crying with laughter whenever Traynor showed up. Bioware favourite Liara also gets some fantastic moments, and the light-hearted mockery between Ashley and Tali also raised a few chuckles with me. More importantly, it also brings some much needed depth and face time to some of the characters that were kinda sidelined throughout the story. If you’re a fan of the ME2 team, like myself, then this DLC brings some much needed catch up time with your good ol’ ‘suicide squad’. For example, it was great to have more interaction Miranda (my personal favourite character) and seeing her with Shep again was incredibly cute (...sorry, girly mode over.) It’s also great for fans of Jack and Jacob, who got their characters sidelined rather lamely. So yes, pure fanservice but I don’t care – it was brilliant.

All in all I was pleasantly surprised by the Citadel DLC. Not because it has a fantastic story, because even though it’s good, it does have some glaring plot holes and parts that make you arch an eyebrow. And if you’re looking for something with lots of shooting and action, then yes the first part of the DLC may satisfy you but I wouldn’t pay 1200 MS Points just for that. If you’re the generic gamer of this day and age who likes things to die and doesn’t give a damn about story or in depth dialogue because you need constant shooting to satisfy your short attention span then avoid this like the plague! This DLC is for the hardcore fans of the series – people who have loved it since the beginning and have an attachment to the characters. People like myself, who wanted more character interaction and a fun, satisfying conclusion to an emotional rollercoaster of a game that can take itself a little too seriously sometimes. In my opinion this DLC is exactly what Mass Effect 3 needed. An ending to a game that left me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, despite how sad I am to walk away from it all. This is the best ending I could have asked for. It's a great send off. Kudos Bioware – I shall miss the fun we had together during this series.

As Miranda says to Shepard: "We had a hell of a ride, didn't we?"
"The best."

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