Phil vs. Phil: Mass Effect 3′s Citadel DLC Sucks No It’s Awesome
Phil vs. Phil is an occasional series that pits two writers who share a love of arguing and a first name against each other, as they take opposite sides on a topic and have at it.
Commander Shepard’s saga finally came to an end with the release of Mass Effect 3: Citadel. It gave us a new side story on the iconic Citadel space station, and it brought back most of our closest in-game friends so we could party together one last time.
Some of us (like Phil Owen) are happy with the closure Citadel granted us, and others (like Phil Hornshaw) think it was mostly just a bunch of fanwank. Today, Phil and Phil will meet on the field of battle in attempt to figure out if Citadel really was the conclusion we so desperately wanted. This is Phil vs. Phil.
Phil Owen: When I began playing Citadel, I was skeptical. This story didn’t have anything to do with the Reapers or Cerberus, and I didn’t like that all that much. But then Urdnot Wrex showed up and crushed an airspeeder, and I realized what this really was: a tale that takes place out of time.
Once I understood that, I could enjoy the goofiness of a clone Shepard and bask in the glory that is having all my old squadmates coming together to fight for me while spouting hilarious lines of dialogue one after another. This is shore leave, after all, and I’m supposed to have a good time. And I certainly did.
Phil Hornshaw: Man, am I ever tired of hearing about shore leave. Everyone who looks to talk about Citadel starts by excusing it by mentioning how, “after all, it’s shore leave.” Shore leave doesn’t exist when you’re fighting a war that will lead to your extinction. You don’t just take a break. My big trouble with Citadel is that in the context of the whole Mass Effect trilogy saga meta-verse of content sold to consumers, it’s the end, but it’s still a DLC that takes place in the middle of an existing story. That story is about the all-out fight for survival that unifies the entire galaxy. Nobody is taking shore leave when planets are burning, and Citadel weakens the overall story by excusing that.
I’m not a fan of the mental gymnastics required to make Citadel work. You say it’s a story out of time, others say that in their head canon it’s an epilogue or a side story or whatever else, but the fact of the matter is that it’s a part of the overall story and I shouldn’t have to do the work of making it fit when it obviously doesn’t. That’s what writers are for.
Owen: Ugh. “Mental gymnastics,” huh? Like justifying taking time out from looking for Saren to do literally any side mission in the first game or dealing with all your crewmates’ emotional bulls–t in the second while all the human colonies are being vacuumed up? Games having side stories that aren’t directly related to the main plot are not a new concept, and such side stories are not unusual at all as DLC.
But I don’t even think the context is that important. The reason I like Citadel is because it has actual personality, and it’s consistently funny and always entertaining, even if some of the fights are a bit more difficult than I would like. Still, I didn’t mind suffering through tough battles because what I got in return was so damn entertaining.