I know what you are thinking, “Another Mass Effect 3 – Citadel DLC review? Don’t we have a ton of these on the internet?” Well, yes that’s true, but as someone who loves this series, you will have to suffer through another one. Don’t like it? Then click the back button. Actually, don’t do that. Please stay. I’ll give you a hug if you do! Are you staying? Good. If you can’t tell, I’m coming off of an emotional high right now. It’s a major side effect of playing the DLC. Warning: Will cause your heart to swell with warm and fuzzy feelings and may cause tears to stream down your face. For this review, I will be as spoiler free as I possibly can.
Citadel is the final DLC for the single-player campaign in Mass Effect 3. There has been a lot of speculation about what the Citadel DLC would be like. Key voice actors like Seth Green (Joker) and Raphael Sbarge (Kaidan) have been confirmed months in advance for coming back into the recording studio to do more voice work for the game, indicating something big would be in the works for the next DLC. Teaser photos from the DLC have been released just weeks leading up to its release. With an air of mystery surrounding Citadel, the final unveiling of the DLC this past month has been well worth the wait and a welcome final piece to the game for the fans.
If many Mass Effect fans thought Bioware screwed up with the ending, Citadel may be the best olive branch they could ever extend to the fans. This DLC has got to be the biggest love letter to the characters and to the fans to date. If you thought the Extended Cut DLC would be the best we could possibly get on a slightly better goodbye for Shepard’s love interest and friends, Citadel blows the Extended Cut right out of the water. You are going to want to keep a tissue box handy.
The Citadel DLC starts with Shepard receiving an order from Admiral Hackett to have the entire Normandy crew take a mandatory shore leave while the ship underwent some maintenance work on the Citadel. Around the same time, Captain Anderson requests Shepard to go to his apartment on the Citadel. Through a video call between him and Shepard, Anderson gifts his very large and luxurious apartment to Shepard.
You get a chance to explore the apartment and all its trappings with Shepard. Be sure to listen to a number of data pad recordings of Anderson talking about his days as a soldier, how he rose up in the ranks to become captain of the Normandy, his personal history, and his thoughts on Shepard. Clicking on these data pads scattered throughout the apartment is worth listening to if you want a more personal look at the man behind the rank and who Shepard regards with the utmost respect.
Once you have finished getting acquainted with your new home, which can be customized to your liking a little later in the game, Shepard receives an email from Joker inviting her to have a meal with him at an exclusive sushi restaurant on the Citadel. Shepard meets with Joker to have what seems to be a relaxing evening on their first night on shore leave, only to realize that neither one of them had invited the other to the restaurant. Realizing too late that the invitation was just an elaborate trap to corner Shepard, bursting onto the scene are trigger happy terrorists who are looking to do Shepard in once and for all. It’s never a dull day when you are Commander Shepard, much less on shore leave.
The first half of the DLC kicks off with Shepard and a crew of familiar faces coming together to figure out who exactly would want Shepard dead. Things get interesting and a little crazy in the first half of Citadel, but you will have to play it to find out for yourself. Believe me, the person behind the Shepard assassination plot isn’t who you would expect it to be. What’s also great about the first half of the DLC is you get to take along pretty much the entire crew of the Normandy to have Shepard’s back in this battle. It makes for one epic scene to see all the characters you have spent three games with and have loved from the very first game come together in a blaze of glory. There are plenty of random conversations going on around Shepard as you fight your way through the usual enemies. Some are downright hilarious. I’m sure I have missed hearing some of it because I was more focused on the fight, but this DLC would require more than one playthrough at some point in time.
Once the initial “Shepard saves the day yet again” part of the DLC is over, the mission doesn’t end there. Instead, you get to kick back and relax with all of your friends and actually cash in on that shore leave for real this time. Things get much more lighthearted and fun in the second half of the DLC, as you are given the task to throw a party for everyone in your apartment. This part of the DLC allows you to take as much time as you want to get everything prepared. You get email notifications from every single member of your crew, new and old, to have Citadel dates with each one of them. A lot of it involves reminiscing with Shepard, and it’s a great opportunity to see everyone in a laid back mood when they aren’t off saving the galaxy.
Each Citadel date is touching, funny, and a different experience. One of my favorite Citadel dates (aside from the one with Kaidan, my Shepard’s chosen significant other) is the one with Garrus. If you are just friends with Garrus, you meet him at a bar upstairs in the casino. Shepard tries to help Garrus pick up a female turian who is sitting next to Garrus. His awkwardness and lack of pickup artist skills when it comes to wooing the ladies is insanely cute. Garrus, I think you really need to stop working on your calibrations and go out more.
When you do decide to gather the necessary items for the party and invite everyone up to Shepard’s apartment, you can control how calm or crazy you want the party to be. I haven’t tried all the possibilities you can get with this party. I know for a fact that there are certain scenes I didn’t get, but saw screenshots online of people who got something else. There is also one point in the game where Grunt acts as bodyguard to keep certain visitors out. You have the option to allow them to come up or have Grunt keep them out. I opted for keeping it a private party, but I do wonder what would have happened if I allowed the strangers up to the apartment. Maybe more damage to Shepard’s apartment than what you get with just keeping the party between close friends.
If you can’t tell by now how I feel about this DLC, Citadel is in fact the best final DLC to be added to Mass Effect 3. The DLC is bursting with emotional highs and sentimentality. I was overwhelmed, like every other fan, by the interactions Shepard had with the original crew of the Normandy to the crew Shepard met during her stint as an unwilling Cerberus agent in Mass Effect 2 to the newest additions in Mass Effect 3.
To have all these people who have made such an impact on Shepard’s life as well as on the fans who adored playing the games, it shows how you really can’t save an entire galaxy alone without a little help from your friends. We all know how the story ends, and depending on what you take from the ending of Mass Effect 3, it does make the final act of the series a little more bearable after playing Citadel. Goodbyes are made, and regardless of what decision you have Shepard make in the final few minutes of the game, the memories will last forever. It has been one hell of a ride, Commander.
Reviewer Rating: 10/10