Just over a year from its launch, BioWare’s Mass Effect 3 still stirs up a bevy of emotions among the series’ following. There’s the attachment to the Normandy’s crew and its realistically complex characters. There’s the epic, sometimes hopeless, galaxy-wide war three games in the making against the Reapers. Then there’s the Extended Cut conclusion which attempted to and mostly succeeded in replacing those original endings many would like to forget about. And don’t forget about the other bonuses: the stellar multiplayer which continually added significant content, along with both the Leviathan and Omega DLCs. But it’s time to say goodbye to Shepard and the crew now, and BioWare could not have offered a better swan song for fans than with its Citadel DLC.
Normally, Xbox Live DLC is limited to 2 gigabytes, but BioWare’s decision to circumvent this problem by splitting Citadel into two required downloadable parts works perfectly. And really, it begs the question why this couldn’t have been done before, but what’s done is done. For $14.99 you get 4 gigs worth of content and roughly 4-6 hours of playtime depending on side quests.
You can play the new DLC at any point after the Cerberus coup attempt on the Citadel and before assaulting the Illusive Man’s Cronos Station. However, you’re going to get the most out of this by waiting as long as possible before that final assault. Most of the character interactions and special moments will only trigger by doing so, and plaything through the DLC beforehand will cause you to miss out.
Citadel consists of two story arcs: one being a conspiracy to kill Shepard and steal his/her identity, and the other a final shore leave party for the Normandy crew. If you’re hoping for any of the plot to have overarching effects on the Reaper war or the endings, keep in mind that it’s all self-contained. Citadel is all about bringing Shepard’s crew from all three Mass Effect games together and exploring what makes this group unwavering in the face of constant struggle. And to provide plenty of can’t-stop-laughing/can’t-believe-they-put-this-in scenes along the way (this one involving Javik is my favorite).
BioWare went all hands on deck with its final Mass Effect 3 outing, assembling the entire writing and voice crew while producing top notch presentation and music. It’s the complete package, with new environments such as a customizable apartment, Silversun Strip (casino gambling!) and a virtual battle arena that allows you to fight alongside your old squadmates (Wrex, Miranda, Jack, and Grunt!).
I can’t say enough about all of the small, yet detailed touches. There’s something here for everyone, no matter who your Shepard romanced or befriended. Talk to anyone you can, listen to every datapad (particularly those of Admiral Anderson and Mordin), and look everywhere for special Easter eggs. And by the time it’s all finished, you could very well feel as I did after experiencing Citadel just one time. I had no desire to play Mass Effect 3 ever again. I didn’t want to fight through the hell that is Priority: Earth and defeat the Reapers. That wasn’t the goodbye I wanted to remember the ME trilogy by until BioWare begins anew with the next generation of consoles.
No, I wanted those last moments with the crew celebrating everything that makes Mass Effect unforgettable to be how I walked away.
“We’ve been through a lot, haven’t we? But it’s been a good ride,” Liara tells my Commander Shepard.
Taking one last look at the Normandy, he replies, “The best.”
(Mass Effect 3 – Citadel DLC – Available on PC, PlayStation 3 via PlayStation Network, and Xbox 360 via Xbox Live. Xbox 360 version reviewed.)