Mass Effect: Citadel is just a whole lot of fun

Some time back, after a prior revisitation into the Mass Effect Trilogy, I wrote a post on here talking about the Leviathan DLC for Mass Effect 3 and how it actively reduced the mystique and unknowable sense of inevitable doom around the series’ antagonists: The Reapers. Playing through all the expanded content again as a part of the Legendary Collection this past month, my feelings haven’t changed all that much.

I was still happier not knowing the Reaper’s origin outside of the veiled implications given by the Crucible AI during Mass Effect 3’s ending. Plus the existence of the Leviathans out in the world just adds one more roadblock in the galaxy every really recovering from the war with the Reapers. If they do manage to drag themselves back up from the ruins, what’s stopping the Leviathans from just indoctrinating everyone putting us right back to where we were during that first cycle.

We’d be alive, but slaves to another race.

But I’m not supposed to be talking about Leviathan here, the title said I was talking about Citadel. Having recently finished the Legendary Edition of the trilogy pretty recently, the part of the final game that left the biggest impact on me was the final piece of DLC released for Mass Effect 3.

Citadel would end up being the very last piece of content Bioware released for the original Mass Effect Trilogy. And it feels that way as well. It seemed like Bioware knew all too well just how important this trilogy of games had become to its audience, and it showed throughout this entire DLC.

Because the whole thing is just so much fun.

Citadel feels like is was especially made to be one big send-off for Commander Shepard and the crew of the Normandy, both past and present. The whole thing is one big final adventure that plays out with its tongue planet firmly in its cheek throughout.

While the “story” of Citadel concerns a rogue Clone of Shepard coming to try and take control of the real Shepard’s life, it never really feels like the stakes are ever really that high. The entire thing toes the line into being downright silly. Even dipping its feet into the water a few times anyway just for good measure.

The change in my perspective since the last time I played this piece of content makes me realise just how Citadel shares a lot of its style and humour with anime. Something I never would have picked up the last time I played it. From the comedic elements thrown into pretty much every situation, banter that is far less grounded in reality compared to the rest of the franchise and the fact that it’s the power of friendship that ends up saving the day at the end.

But that story is only a small part of the entire DLC. The real bulk of it comes from a whole bunch of scenes in Shepard’s new apartment and in the entertainment district outside of it. Which are also the real heart of the expansion too. Each and every current and former member of Shepard’s crew have at least one little scene where we get to see them just hanging out with Shepard and getting up to hijinks.

Some of them genuine and touching, others off the wall goofball comedy. Ranging from a sweet evening together with some into getting roped into acting on the set of a B-Movie or recounting drunken escapade of Hangover scale insanity. You can tell the people making this content had some real fun with it, because so many parts of this expansion are just so uncharacteristic with the rest of the series.

Filled with little nods and references to other movies or video games along the way. And as someone who has spend the best part of 120 hours with all of these characters, seeing all of this play out, it’s impossible to keep a big dumb smile off my face throughout.

The whole thing culminating a big house party where you get to see these characters letting their hair down some more and just hanging out, getting drunk and having a good time. By the time it’s all over, you realise you’ve spend hours watching all these scenes play out without actually firing off a gun at all. And personally, I don’t care because Bioware had me on the hook and were doing exactly what they needed to for me.

It knows what it’s doing though, because as the party ends and you travel back to the Normandy, the DLC treats you to one final cut scene. Where sober music plays and the entire crew look over the Normandy one last time, with Shepard’s love interest stating that this was their final big blowout and that it really was a wild ride. To which Shepard quietly replied “the best” before running off after the rest of the crew.

Despite myself, even writing about it now puts a lump in my throat.

Bioware knew what they were doing. Tugging at my heartstrings so expertly. They knew how much we loved and cared for these characters, seeing as how this entire DLC is seeing them all play off one another and just have some fun with one another one last time.

Like how I talked about my mixed feelings concerning the ending hour of the main game, I always felt confliced playing the end of Citadel. There is this overt sense of finality to that final scene of the DLC, which is exactly what the scne was. Given that this was a clear goodbye from the characters, being the final DLC for the game.

Unlike the main story’s ending though, this one ends on a bright, hopeful note that still really gets me. Esspecially when I play it at the tail end of a 100+ session with the trilogy over the course of a month.

Citadel really is everything I love so, so much about Mass Effect condensed down into a single experience.

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