Mass Effect 3 Citadel Review: Almost Enough. Almost.
Warning: The Citadel is enormously heavy with fanservice. This might irk some players but I found it charming. You’ll listen to Admiral Anderson’s autobiography and wonder just how obsessed he is with his protege. You’ll wander around Silversun Strip and gamble, play video games, and enjoy a competitive combat simulator. You’ll get to talk to random squad members and see how they spend their off time. (Traynor is a strategy game expert, and Garrus very bad at putting the moves on women.) You’ll even get to film a role in a Blasto movie. And during the combat mission, constant references to previous running gags are dropped casually, and Shepard at one point vows revenge for the mistreatment of her pet hamster. This is but a sampling of what is thrown at the player on a nearly constant basis.
Yes, it’s very winking, but it’s a lot of fun, helped by witty dialogue and a constant barrage of one liners and quips that almost break right through the fourth wall to the point it feels like Shane Black directed it. (At the end, the secondary villain says “Admit it, you’ll miss me” as she escapes. If you choose the renegade prompt, Shep shoots her and quips “Not at this range.”) That’s fine with me, because the lines don’t feel like out of character moments but instead like the culmination of a team forged from years of service together.
If nothing else, the point of The Citadel is that those years matter. Throughout the DLC we see not the usual RPG meandering from conversations to battle, but evidence that Shepard’s crew are the baddest warriors in the galaxy. And for once in this game, we actually get to see that play out. Everything they’ve done, everywhere they’ve been, we now see proof of what happens when they all come together. This is particularly evident during the last half of the combat portion of The Citadel when, as you lead your two chosen squad members through a firefight, you can see other members of your crew in squads of their own fighting alongside you. It’s similar to the end of Mass Effect 2 at the Collector base, but far more cinematically realized.
The party you’re allowed to throw immediately after the mission is also quite inspired. It’s literally a sidequest-length chance to get hammered with all of your surviving crew from all three games. Awkward conversations, boasting competitions, bad drunken decision-making, Shepard’s awful dancing, even a painful next morning hangover are all included. By the time you’re done, assuming you play this after you’ve already beaten the game once or twice, it feels precisely like the last hurrah you needed before putting Mass Effect 3 to bed.
Of course, if you haven’t actually beaten Mass Effect 3 before, or if you’re paying attention, then you’ll notice that The Citadel has some very serious problems.