Friday Flames Wars: ME3 Citadel: Charming, or Cheesy?

Friday Flame Wars is a recurring feature on Game Front. We present a hot-button issue and then encourage a no-holds-barred commenting battle royale healthy debate within our community.

Mass Effect 3′s Citadel DLC is being generally well-received by review outlets and fans alike, but it has nonetheless sparked polarized opinions. Game Front’s Phil Hornshaw disliked Citadel, stating that it “represents a departure from what Mass Effect is, and it sets a precedent in which pandering to fans supersedes telling great stories well.” On the other hand, our Ross Lincoln enjoyed it, calling it a “fitting goodbye to a series that has occupied so much of my imagination for so many years.”

Where do you fall on the matter? Are you pro-Citadel, or are you riding the BioWare hate train?

Have at it.

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29 Comments on Friday Flames Wars: ME3 Citadel: Charming, or Cheesy?


On March 15, 2013 at 10:00 pm

I’ve been riding the Bioware hate train for so long now, jumping off would cause me to be turned into a figment of your imagination. You know, like the Star Child.


On March 15, 2013 at 10:51 pm

I know this is off topic, but a Representative Frank Wolf is currently taking up the crusade against video games in congress. an example of him on record can be found here, and at his own website found here I myself am tired of this horse being beaten, but oh well. is currently stepping up to trying to shut him down.


On March 16, 2013 at 12:04 am

Let me get back to you after I haven’t had too many Heinekens to think properly.


On March 16, 2013 at 12:08 am

I never really felt angry at bioware, after all up until the ending I would have put the mass effect trilogy as a whole on par with the greatest works of science fiction I’ve ever enjoyed (bare in mind that I am a filthy ignorant pleb and most of my sci fi bookshelf is more Heinlein than Herbert, and more Roddenberry than Kubrik). I would have said that any time the “games are not and can never be art” chestnut gets rolled out we could point to Mass Effect and say “wrong!” Now? Now I’ve moved beyond the initial bewilderment and disappointment, and that’s mostly what my emotions regarding the ending were, and I’ve reached the point where I’m just tired of Mass Effect. I’m tired of the universe, I’m tired of the characters, and I’m tired of the wretched bloody arguments about this or that in regards to the whole fiasco spells the end for gaming as an art form.

So honestly now I look at the Citadel DLC and say “why should I bother?” Lets pretend for a moment that marketing has anything other than an accidental relationship with reality as known by organic life and that all the advertisement and hype spewed out about the Citadel DLC is true. That it’s just a light hearted last hurrah in Commander Shepard’s story (let’s also pretend for the sake of argument that what amounts to a self aware comedy sketch doesn’t feel completely out of place in what is other wise a very dark war story), in which we get to pall around with our favorite characters again. It will in no way change the fact the ending is the story telling equivalent of letting the air out of a balloon. What does having a drink with Wrex matter when I know the ultimate story, the reason I paid 80+$ for the damned game, is going to end in an insubstantial bit of anti-logic that feels like it was tacked on because no one could come up with a halfway decent ending?

Some would say that I should enjoy the journey, but I say that when you know the journey ends with getting punched in balls no power in the universe is going to make you look forward to it, and I rather imagine that the ball punching will sour the rest of the journey for you.

But I suppose that if I’m going to leave this long, rambling, poorly thought out comment I should really answer the actual question.

Now, comic relief does indeed have a place in serious works, I feel it’s an important part of staving off darkness induced audience apathy, however the way it is applied matters a great deal. Imagine if two thirds of the way through Silent Hill II there was an hour long segment of self aware joking about the game and it’s plot. Even if the humor is brilliant it’s still going to take you out of the game. It will provide catharsis yes, you’ll laugh and feel relief as the tension snaps while Pyramid Head does pratfalls, but as you move on the mood is destroyed.


On March 16, 2013 at 5:51 am

It’s a joke and it makes me wonder what has happened to the writing at Bioware. They went from, arguably, some of the best writing in video game history. The shining example being (Spoilers……) Mordin’s death in ME3. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a video game scene written anywhere near as fantastically as that one was.

And then there is the ending, which is so illogical it only takes about 5 minutes of thought to discover some game-breaking, even trilogy-breaking, plot holes. And THEN there’s this DLC, which to me just indicates they’ve given up. It’s as if they still think the gaming world will eat up every word they put on paper. I haven’t bought a single piece of DLC since the game came out and I most definitely won’t, with the exception being if they release a real ending. Cause let’s all be honest, that extended cut was insulting.


On March 16, 2013 at 6:06 am

gasmaskangel hits the nail on the head. Regardless of how enjoyable this is out of context, the fact of the matter is that it doesn’t change anything. Everything that was a problem with the ending is still there. Everything that turned people off about BioWare and EA’s conduct over the past year still happened. Everything that showed the mainstream outlets to contain some of the most venal, puerile or simply uneducated people in journalism has still never been addressed or redeemed. So you can enjoy Citadel all you like, but don’t try to pretend it fixes anything. It’s fan service for those who stuck around, not an attempt to bring back the many tens of thousands of fans BioWare threw away.

I won’t even attempt to analyse the unbelievably contrived story and forced comedy of Citadel, because I don’t feel like sobbing uncontrollably right now. Suffice to say, there’s not a shark in any of the world’s seas that BioWare hasn’t now jumped.


On March 16, 2013 at 7:43 am

I found it infantile and out of place with the theme. The comedy just didn’t gel and most of the time didn’t even work. Example: Companion 1: Haha, you fell through a fish tank. Companion 2: Haha, you killed a load of fish. Companion 3: How was your swim? – Do we really need to have the same joke repeated? It just came across as cringe-worthy rather than funny.

I’ve been a fan of the series from the start, though the end of ME3 killed it for me, but that said, if this is fan service then obviously I used to be a completely different type of fan than the one this was made for. They completely missed the mark on this, in my opinion, it doesn’t pique my interest, in fact it goes so far as to push it even further away. I now view Mass Effect with a ‘meh, whatever’ rather than the rabid attention I used to give it.

A sad way for the series to go out.


On March 16, 2013 at 7:49 am

Fun, very fun. I had plenty of giggles and good nostalgic moments. Problems? Plenty.

First of all, it all goes around the damn ending party. It took me like 20 minutes to complete the “real”story and action part of Citadel (you know, the part where you have to solve all the… mistery…) and close to like an hour and a half meeting people and throwing the party. So really… there was no point…

Main concerns are of course writting. Although fun and at times histerical, it’s poor compared to the apex of the best moments in ME. Second… sure, the galaxy is being torn to pieces… let’s get wasted!

In the end, I have very mixed feelings about the DLC. Fun, nostalgic and hilarious at times, but way out of place. It just feels extremley forced into the game, and makes no sense since adds no value to the core story of ME (whcih of course as said, was destroyed with the ending… and still is).

Hate train? I’m on it. It takes insanely high amounts of moronic decissions to destroy 3 games, 10 years (?) and like 100 play hours per game with the last 10 minutes… and Bioware managed. I’m never going to forgive them for this, but that does not mean their future projects will be as ty. I still have my eyes on them.


On March 16, 2013 at 9:19 am

I guess you can put me in the “Hate train” somehow…

Nothing that changes the insulting endings, no DLC purchase… Period…


On March 16, 2013 at 9:26 am

“Second… sure, the galaxy is being torn to pieces… let’s get wasted!”

That’s just an extension of the nihilism that many complained about with the original release. This seems to be a recurring theme throughout the game industry right now, the insertion of the “It’s just a game, it doesn’t matter” attitude. You know, kind of like the thing with Farcry 3 trying to be offensive to gamers. It seems as though game developers are trying more and more over time to get us to play games with a degree of emotional detachment from the game itself. It’s as though they’re trying to tell us “Forget immersion, it’s too much work. Instead, remain detached from the game environment and just give us more money.”

This is just the type of thing that I feel playing those sub-par games on Facebook. Sure they’re fun, to an extent, but there really isn’t much beyond the first 15 minutes of play. You know what I’m talking about. That inevitable moment after you’ve completed the starter quests and casual Facebook game developers start hitting you up for money. Some of those Facebook games can get quite addictive, too. That’s what developers are going for now, people: Addiction not immersion.

@folklore: Thanks for the heads-up.


On March 16, 2013 at 10:11 am

I’m Both.

I love Citadel! It’s a fun, “cheesy” epilogue that ends ME3 on a high note. Except the Varren Races. Lost so much credits on the Varren racing….


As you may have noticed I consider this post-ending content. I’ve already beaten ME3. I use the MEHEM mod for my ending so I am not absolutely disgusted by the game’s conclusion at the end. With those things this DLC is and fits into the story as an epilogue.

Citadel doesn’t fit with the vanilla narrative as it is.

The humor, character actions, set-up, dialogue, etc doesn’t work at all with a narrative involving impending doom, intergalactic chaos and WAR! WAR! WAR!.

When you “leave” the Sunset Strip and enter back into the main game it’s like going into a totally different game.

Had this been an epilogue for the narrative, It be perfect. 10 out of 10. But the decision to stick this before the conclusion is just another “blunder” BioWare has done in its year-long effort (so far) to protect it’s “artistic” Endings.

So yes I am still on the BioWare “Hate Train.” This DLC doesn’t change my disdain for them. I won’t be buying any future products from them. I will however buy ME4 when it hits the bargain bin ($15 or less). My love of ME outweighs by contempt for BioWare.


On March 16, 2013 at 11:02 am

Shameless fanservice.
Then again, if you’re a fan, and you think this pack served you fitly, more power to you.


On March 16, 2013 at 11:10 am

I’m pro-Citadel. Sure that DLC doesn’t change anything in the story but i really liked all the fan-service it offered.

Roy Batty

On March 16, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Don’t “hate” it, don’t “love” it but I am done with it. This is where Bioware wants to go with the series which is fine I am moving on as I am tired of the stupid debate anyway they won’t admit they screwed up so KMA.

P.S. I thought they were going to have a humorous ending originally – when I saw joker running from the energy trying to outrun it I assumed there would be a joke…a punch line but alas there wasn’t (they were being serious which in turn made me burst out laughing). If they had done this I would have understood the end (hey dude lighten up! You just saved 5 people from the destruction of all life as you know it! It’s miller time!).

Though I do think Ross gives a better eulogy on the franchise :P


On March 16, 2013 at 12:43 pm

“I’m pro-Citadel. Sure that DLC doesn’t change anything in the story but i really liked all the fan-service it offered.”

I hear this a lot, but what exactly did it to as ‘fan service’? I’ve been a fan of Mass Effect since the original, though ME3 spoilt it for me, and I have an overwhelming negative feel to Citadel DLC. What does it offer as ‘fan service’?


On March 16, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Many peoples wanted to see the characters interacting with each other outside their duty role and seeing how strong their friendship had developed in the course of those three games. Also the Citadel offer a last goodbye to our fellow teamates before the end of this chapter of the franchise. A last farewell to the characters we all loved to prepare us to the second generation of the series.

Also The Citadel DLC offer many easter-eggs and enjoying momments that only a fan who is here since the beggining will appreciate. Your importing save have a more stronger impact on this DLC than any others DLC thus far and even on the game iself. For exemple a good reference in this DLC is how they named their separate team during the action part of The Citadel, Mako and Hammerhead. Pure fanbservice even if it sound dull.

Oh god i’m so bad in english, somebody please help me. I’m sure i missed some points in my description.


On March 16, 2013 at 4:21 pm

I’m somewhere in the middle on this one. I agree completely that it doesn’t fit the tone since I somehow doubt that the single most important person in the galaxy is going to live it up when so many are dying, or when there are so many refugees right there on the Citadel. At the same time, I’m somewhat like Ross Lincoln was; I wanted something that at least felt good at the time so badly out of this game. The DLC genuinely made me laugh, and it did feel like a decent sendoff to me, but then whatever good feelings I had evaporated because I knew I’d be heading right back into the ending. And while the EC did improve on it, I consider it more of a patch to what was clearly not a finished product rather than any sort of correction since none of my concerns have been addressed.

Ultimately, I don’t know that it is even the game itself that I have the problem with anymore so much as it is the behavior of BioWare. Downplaying/spinning everything, claiming that the majority of fans are satisfied with no evidence to back that up, and outright misinforming and/or lying make me believe the company is simply BioWare in name only. Given how many prominent, long-time employees, including the Docs, have left since EA bought them, I have to figure something is up.


On March 16, 2013 at 6:52 pm

I’m not on a Bioware ‘hate train’, but I most def have not purchased any DLC for ME3.

I find Citadel to be cheesy, tone deaf, and out of character.

Thank you intrepid Youtubers for uploading play throughs and snippets of game play…’s reinforced my boycott of ME3 products and kept me from buying Citadel no matter how much I wanted the fanservice.


On March 17, 2013 at 12:01 am

I discovered something after replaying the last minutes of Mass Effect 3. Immediatly after the conversation with the Catalyst when you regain control of Shepard, if you wait too long before choosing your ending you die and the game over message say the Crucible was destroyed. What it mean? The Reapers doesn’t want the cycles to end? Even if the Catalyst want a new solution? Does it mean the Catalyst is not in full control of the Reapers?

Jethro Tollbooth

On March 17, 2013 at 5:09 am

Wesker – no, it’s just further evidence that BioWare didn’t think their ending through hard enough. That’s also why the brilliant Indoctrination Theory fails, it’s so sophisticated and has so many layers to it that it gives Hudson and Walters way too much credit. They weren’t thinking that far ahead, they just wanted something that seemed ‘epic’ and for whatever reason did not believe that the rest of the team who had spent years of their lives already making the series genuinely epic (most of whom had been there much longer than Hudson or Walters) should get a say on how their own story climaxed. Stephen King would have written a better ending than that, and he’s infamous for failing to deliver on his own amazing builds.


On March 17, 2013 at 11:14 am


The Crucible was forcing him to relay information whether he liked it or not, even forcing him to bring up the destroy option when it was the number 1 thing he DIDN’T want chosen… And even explain how to do it. He also hated control, but was forced to mention it too. He didn’t have a say in anything. If I decide to choose destroy or control, the best he can do is whine about it because he has absolutely no recourse to stop me. He can’t even try a lie of omission, because the Crucible wasn’t letting him do that either. Best he can do is make the Reapers destroy the Crucible before Shepard does something it doesn’t like.

He didn’t help you by choice, he didn’t want to, gave you options he despised and told you how to do it regardless of his opinions, and was even forced to bring you up on that elevator at the control panel (the fact that he acts really really ticked off when he does this a low EMS is proof of that, because why else would he bring you up if he didn’t even want you up there to begin with?). He was 100% at your mercy, being forced to do what you and the Crucible demanded.

That is also why refuse shuts down the Crucible. The Crucible was linked with you, and was doing what you asked it to. From the moment you touched the control panel, it was doing what your mind told it to. When you refuse, you’re pretty much telling the Crucible to shut down. It’s asking you through the Catalyst “what do you wish this program to perform?”, and refusing is like you clicking cancel. Think of it as a computer, you have an EXE file (a non-virus one, before someone gets cute) asking what you wish to do and refusing is you clicking to cancel the file altogether. The moment you did that, the Catalyst stopped being controlled by the Crucible and regained full control of himself, which is why he’s suddenly talking like a Reaper and making it clear that he’s going to keep killing everyone, you handed the choice back to the Reapers by choice because of refusing. Refusing is telling the Crucible to shut down and allowing the Catalyst to regain control… Which is why it’s such a supremely stupid choice. So when the Crucible asks what function you want done, give it a real answer, don’t close the program out of fear.

Bottom line, the Catalyst was a scared litte b**ch who could at best use some word manipulation to try to coerce you into picking the option he preferred… Or do something supremely stupid and reject the Crucible by mentally rejecting it either by saying it out loud as you thought it in your head or by shooting the Crucible’s current mouthpiece. Make no mistake, destroy is the very last thing he wants. When you go up there with low EMS and destroy is the only option, he’s sounds really angry. That anger is because he knows that he doesn’t even have a chance to avoiding destroy, there’s no options but that. Yet he still has to bring you up there even though you coming up angers him so much. Kind of telling actually (doesn’t want you up there=brings you up anyway=clearly not a being in control of themselves).

That is why the Reaper’s are trying to destroy the Crucible, and succeed if you take too long. The Catalyst wants free of the Crucible so he can get back to doing things his own way, and ordering its Reapers to keep attacking it to free it is a way to do that. The Catalyst WANTS the Crucible destroyed, it’s a weapon that can end everything it’s done, end its plans, and is currently controlling him with an iron grip. It’s ultimate want is to have the Crucible destroyed the Catalyst able to control itself again and stop being a mouthpiece for the device and making it divulge info and bring up elevators it didn’t want to.


On March 17, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I really enjoyed my entire run through the Citadel DLC. I found it to be incredibly fun and humorous by being focused on what I personally enjoyed the most out of the Mass Effect franchise, the characters.

This DLC greatly reflected the choices you had made during the trilogy with which characters were alive and which you had romanced.

It wasn’t about the tone not fitting, it was not about the ending, it was not about Bioware apologizing, it was most certainly not indicative of future corporate practices. It was about a last outing and farewell the cast of characters built up over this generation of video games.

Which, I might add, was exactly how it was promoted.


On March 17, 2013 at 4:52 pm


Sadly, everything you’ve said is complete conjecture. Not a single word was actually present in the story as it was told. I could just as easily say “The Catalyst was a piece of sand that got in Shepard’s eye and his voice was actually just a faulty signal of an obscure TV show coming through Hackett’s radio” and it wouldn’t have been any less valid that your completely subjective and personal interpretation.

Which is to saythat the ending meant nothing. There was no depth to it, no grand plan from the writers. When you have to create your own ridiculously elaborate explanation to fill in the gaps, that’s evidence of a shambolic narrative.


On March 17, 2013 at 9:31 pm


I admit, although I posted an explanation about how the Crucible can hack the Catalyst… I’m not actually entirely sure how that works. But it’s irrelevant in the end. The fact is, the Catalyst is acting like someone who is being forced to say and do things again their will. His actions don’t make sense and in fact contradict themselves (bringing you up and then being mad that he brought you up like it’s your fault). Saying self destructive things that are, at best, going to ruin everything he’s done for the last hundreds of trillions of years (bringing up destroy all by himself). The Reaper’s are trying (and succeed if you waste time) to destroy the Crucible the entire time you’re talking and deciding proving that he really doesn’t like the Crucible even if his WORDS say otherwise. The sudden changing of its personality and actions the moment you decide you won’t pick any of the Crucibles options, it going from “I have new possibilities I wish to politely discuss with you” to “I win, you all DIE” in the span of a few seconds as if he was freed of mind control (much like the fast personality change of people when controlled by Leviathan to after the control is broken).

All signs point to it being in no control over itself. The crucible hacking it is the ONLY explanation that makes its contradictory words and actions and oddities make sense. How it does it, I don’t 100% know. But DOES it do it? All evidence and logic points to yes.


On March 17, 2013 at 9:59 pm

An alternative explanation to “The Crucible hacked the Catalyst” is “The Crucible blocked the Catalyst’s Control”. In this version, everything the Catalyst says is sincere, but the Crucible is blocking it from from currently controlling the Reapers. There is evidence for this in the original script, which included the Catalyst saying something along the lines of: “But you must act. I can’t proceed. Go. If you don’t, the cycle will continue, but I will no longer control the Reapers.”

The Reapers destroy the Crucible because they’re just following the Catalyst’s last instructions, despite the fact that, after the Crucible connects, the Catalyst doesn’t want them to do so. This also explains the Catalyst’s constant insistence that it’s running out of time to explain things to you and why, if it’s willing to let you pick Control, it doesn’t just let you tell it what to do.


On March 18, 2013 at 12:49 am


But that’s the problem – the logic isn’t there to begin with. Again, it’s this rudiculous concept you seem to have that because something CAN be explained with enough head-canon, therefore that IS what happened and was BioWare’s intention. If you have no foudation within the lore of the game to base your theory on, it can’t even really be considered a theory. You can’t point to a single line of dialogue or a single codex entry that validates what you’re saying, because it’s not there. It’s pure fan-fic, which is fine except for the fact that you’re trying to represent it as official canon without any supporting evidence. Your only basis is that you want the ending to make sense, which we all do, but FORCING it to mean something when it doesn’t is giving way too much leeway to BioWare.

You can’t apply logic to a deus ex machina that’s introduced five minutes from the end with a complete thematic shift and is given little to no development. Hudson and Walters sure as hell didn’t.

Hamlet's Half Hour

On March 18, 2013 at 4:51 am

JPElvis – how can ‘all signs’ point to what you’re saying when the most popular consensuses regarding the ending are either that it was just an attempt at courting attention and controversy (as evidenced by several internal BioWare memos saying “let’s get people talking”) or what an indoctrination attempt (which actually had some solid arguments)? If ‘all signs’ really pointed to what you’re saying, it wouldn’t have taken a year for anyone to have come up with that idea.

Your theory relies entirely on you applying your own version of logic to the situation, when it’s made clear in a handwave line that the situation is supposedly too far beyond the comprehension of any mortal so ever be understood by them. Trying to work it out without ever once consulting the codex or doing anything other than reading into some presumably deliberately ambiguous lines of dialogue from a character we’ve never met before is like trying to work out Dali’s Lobster Telephone based on what you think he might have been dreaming two days beforehand because he wore a red shirt to the shops the following afternoon.

If you’d have at least said “this is my personal interpretation of it” then that would be fine, but instead you’re writing about it as if it’s some sort of peer-reviewed study. It’s not – it’s fan-fiction disguised as fan-fact, with nothing to strengthen it and countless lines in the dialogue that actually completely contradict what you’re suggesting.

For your own sake, just accept that BioWare dropped the ball.


On March 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm

I only have one bone to pick with the preceding argument: It’s pretty obvious throughout the Mass Effect series that the Reapers seem to want to be perceived as some deity or near deity whose motivations cannot be interpreted by mere mortals.

In this case, I’m going to have to expand my horizons beyond what the Mass Effect lore states and drag in the metaknowledge of scifi and fantasy. According to this metaknowledge, the villain must always have a reason for doing what he or she does in order to be believable. However, in some cases, the villain often uses the “I cannot possibly be understood by mere mortals” argument. That’s where this comes from. It is either a lazy argument written by writers that couldn’t be bothered to come up with a real, believable motivation for the primary villains, or it’s an attempt by the writers to demonstrate to the audience that the Reapers are so filled with their own hubris that they believe that they are unstoppable.

I realize that this doesn’t really contribute to the discussion as to whether the Indoctrination Theory has any merit or not. I’m merely trying to point out that the Reapers say “We cannot be understood by mere mortals” line is just standard-issue scifi/fantasy BS to demonstrate how evil and deluded the Reapers really are.


On March 14, 2014 at 6:41 pm

I like the Citidel DLC Some say its not serious enough but that works if you do it right before earth, They May all die, Its their last chance to Party like there is no tomarrow, because there may not be