Phil vs. Phil: Mass Effect 3′s Citadel DLC Sucks No It’s Awesome

Hornshaw: Wait, if we’re arguing that Mass Effect 1 and 2 include bad writing in allowing random side quests, then it’s time to have a different discussion. A precedent of bad writing doesn’t excuse additional bad writing. Side-stories as DLC aren’t unusual, but side-stories that totally throw out the tone of the overall story? That’s a little different. Regardless, we’re talking about Citadel, not anything else.

But as for Citadel having personality — sure, I guess that’s true. It has a ton of personality. Citadel has no problem inventing whole new personalities for characters, too. Hey, Liara’s totally a jokester! Hey, Wrex totally dances! Hey, Shepard totally wants to go to a swanky sushi place! Sure, Citadel is entertaining. So are sitcoms. But Citadel is absolutely, completely at odds with everything that Mass Effect is. Mass Effect is not a laugh-tracked comedy tour; it’s a mostly serious story about deeper issues like racism, cultural unity, humanity’s place in the universe, and the refusal of comfortable people to recognize a threat. Shepard herself makes disparaging remarks about the oblivious folks on the Citadel living it up while soldiers are dying literally everywhere; and then by this DLC, Shepard throws a party. It’s completely out of character for Mass Effect, and more importantly, it’s out of character for the characters. Citadel sells off everything that makes Mass Effect Mass Effect in order to dish out as much “entertaining” fan service as it can.

Not to mention that it’s not nearly as entertaining as you make it sound. Some of it is funny. Some of it is not.

Owen: Again, I say you are missing the point of this whole thing. Citadel “takes place” in the middle of the Mass Effect 3 story because, well, where else are they going to put it? I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to say it’s not a true part of the bigger story simply because, as you put it, it’s so tonally inconsistent with the rest of it. That said, you act as if they aren’t allowed to have jokes or let the characters cut loose for a while outside the context of the Reaper War. That’s ridiculous.

Sometimes you have to accept things for what they are and not what you wish they were, and Citadel is a case in point. BioWare specifically said this DLC was intended to be a sendoff for Shepard and her buddies. Yes, it’s fan service. And, yes, it’s an excellent goodbye. You seem offended by the very idea of fanwank.

Hornshaw: Whoa, wait a second. “What they are and what I wish they were?” Citadel is exactly that. It makes up a new Mass Effect because, apparently, BioWare or fans or some combination thereof wishes Mass Effect was something that it’s not. Accepting Citadel for what it is does not mean excusing its flaws, and one of those flaws is the way it altogether abandons everything that Mass Effect has been up to that point. If I wanted a fanwank I’d write fanfiction.

But regardless of those issues, here’s the trouble with Citadel: I don’t want a three-hour goodbye. I want Mass Effect to be a story told with class and integrity, one which takes itself seriously and which takes seriously the many themes and characters it has built for the last five or six years. That story can, and does, include jokes. That story does not make a mockery of itself. Citadel throws out any need for Mass Effect to be a serious story that could make comments about anything in the real world. It turns it into a joke and a laughing stock. And if you liked it, that’s cool, I don’t begrudge you the ability to like it. If you wanted a goodbye, then congrats, you got one. Garrus and Tali are not real people and they’re not my friends and I didn’t want a chance to say goodbye to them. I wanted a Mass Effect that set itself up with serious themes and stakes, and treated those stakes, characters and themes with respect. Citadel undermines all of that, and that’s why I don’t like it. That doesn’t mean I’m mad that you do, and it doesn’t mean I’m mad at jokes.

Owen: You’re saying, more or less, that Mass Effect can only ever be this one thing and nothing else. They can’t have some fun with it if they want to. They can’t inject humor into a side story. They can’t make Wrex dance.

Yes, Citadel is not really what you would expect from a Mass Effect story. But that’s completely fine. It doesn’t undermine anything. It doesn’t change how you perceive all of the other Mass Effect stories we’ve been given; you still have all the super serious parts. It is just a new, different thing that is highly enjoyable. It’s the writers relieving the tension for a bit and letting us cut loose for once.

Whether you accept it or not, Mass Effect is the franchise of the generation for a lot of really dedicated fans. While they may not be the best or most innovative games of the past seven years, they’ve told a story and given us characters that many of us have grown quite attached to. That BioWare would want to give us one last go ‘round with these guys and let them have fun and be goofy is not cause for anger. That they managed to deliver a piece of content that is tremendously amusing, regardless of the context, is worthy of praise, I think.

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14 Comments on Phil vs. Phil: Mass Effect 3′s Citadel DLC Sucks No It’s Awesome


On April 5, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Only one thing to say. Hornshaw got it right and Owen is a wanker. Can’t wait for the next dlc, where the star brat becomes a frat brat, doing beer bongs and shot guns. Smoking a little wacky weed, saying how the reapers just don’t understand him, then puking his guts up. Yeah, going to be great stuff.

Phil Owen

On April 5, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I’d play that.

The Defenestrator

On April 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm

I gotta go with Phil H. here. The Citadel DLC felt like they randomly inserted a scene from Benny Hill into “Schindler’s List.”

The occasional smart ass remark or comedic moment is fine to keep it from being a morose slog but this was way, way too over the top. The whole thing reeked of desperation: “Hey guys, you still like us, right? Well, how about if you slow dance with Garrus, do you like us now? Okay, fine, Wrex dances, DO YOU LIKE US NOW!? OKAY, JEEZ, BLASTO NOW LIKE US GODDAMMIT!”

They basically broke the story to mend the damage that came from breaking the story the first time. Which still leaves a broken story.

If this was post-DLC, I’d be completely on board because the big danger had passed. But we all know that can’t happen. Instead, they’re banking on people just playing the DLC as if it were something that was separate from the main story.

If your main problem with ME3 is that you wanted more of the characters, Citadel works. If your problem with ME3 is that BioWare pooched the story and then CONTINUED to pooch it, then it won’t.


On April 6, 2013 at 12:47 am

I’m pro citadel.

Also i’m on the side of Phil and not Phil!

Hans Cummings

On April 6, 2013 at 5:33 am

You know what? They’re both right.

Citadel has nothing to do with the mood or themes of ME3. It IS ludicrous that anyone would get an extended shore leave in the middle of a literal existential crisis. But, I enjoyed playing it. Moreso than the last 30 minutes of ME3, for sure. I could go on and on and on about the ending to ME3 and how it left me feeling unfulfilled and frankly, sorry that I pre-ordered the game (I’m not sorry I bought it, just sorry I spent full price for it). Citadel, with all its flaws, left me feeling good about leaving the trilogy behind, whereas ME3 without it feels like someone burnt down my house and pissed on the ashes.

Is it rational? Nope. It’s just a game. But games can provoke strong emotions, that’s one reason the Mass Effect series is so popular. ME3 without Citadel retroactively ruins most of Mass Effect as a series for me. With Citadel, I might actually go back and play them all again because I can go into Citadel as an ALTERNATE ending to the Red/Green/Blue choice the game wants to give me.

To me, it’s value is: It works for me.


On April 6, 2013 at 7:49 am

Have to agree with Owen here. Citadel is a great DLC, yes, it doesn’t fit in the game, but who cares, it’s still better than another serious DLC, which they would probably have screwed up, like Omega or Leviathan.


On April 6, 2013 at 8:59 am

To be honest, I’m not going to knock anyone but the wankers for liking this. As I’ve said before, I really wish I could like it. I really do. It’s soooo much more fun to be able to do some thing that you like vs something that just isn’t fun. But everything has a time and place. The Shepard I know from ME1 & 2 just wouldn’t be doing this. Not while his friends on earth are struggling every second just to survive. I just don’t see Shepard going, “Anderson and everyone on earth are biting it each and every day, so lets get drunk and screw.” Just don’t see it.
It would just like ‘the walking dead” Lee, Clem, Kenny and everyone, kicking a few back, hitting the bar and partying like there’s no tomorrow. Jukebox cranked, Clem shaking her booty on the dance floor, Lee getting drunk and passing out in the shower. Yeah, I’m sure some people would buy this too, but it would make any sense either. Just saying when something goes too far out of character, it’s just not the same game anymore. Cause this just wouldn’t have happened. Just my opinion.

Ray Bees

On April 6, 2013 at 10:00 am

Mindless afterthought fan service at an inflated price to squeeze one last bit of cash from the machine while trying desperately to convince the few remaining hangers-on that they’re on their side. I realise the story was completely and utterly destroyed by the ending but that’s no reason to exacerbate things. It’s fluff, nothing more than that. Entertaining for a few hours? Sure. Relevant to the story in any way? Quite the opposite, if anything it just dilutes the concept further.

Phil Owen’s entitled to his opinion, but his opinion is wrong. Technically, factually and ethically wrong.


On April 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Just wait assassin creed 14,because with a new super feature the animus will be able to travel to the future ,an so the lost grand son of Ezio will kill the last Templar who in fact, is the supreme Gets-maker ( Skynet in some way ), and every thing gonna be all right ,just don’t worry every thing has been planned long time ago, just spare some buks.
Sorry just can help it.
Good week end fellows.


On April 7, 2013 at 5:38 am

So they managed to get back all writers, actors, staff and spend hours in meetings, and more behind the screen, to write the Citadel… And no one dared suggest that they use this opportunity to REWRITE the ending ?
Cause the Citadel would have been awesome after the proper ending that we all deserved, saying goodbye (or start a new story like “let’s rebuild the galaxy together”) to friends that are still alive after the big fight at the end. But with the current ending(s), Citadel doesn’t work for me. I agree it is entertaining, it is well writen and consistent with itself (not with the rest of the game), I had a good laugh on most of the jokes, it felt good to have some new vilains to shoot at and some great places to discover.
But no matter what, I just can’t get out of my head how things are going to end, and I always get this “why bother” feeling that ruins everything.
Does it really make no sense at all to consider rewriting the end of ME3 ? Erase the current and create separate, alternate endings, one for each branch of the decision tree since the beginning of the game ? (including some where we can actually save the galaxy…)
To spend that much time and ressources to properly conclude the game trilogy would make a lot of sense to me as a fan (huge fan), and i’d be happy to pay extra for that. And then Citadel would be immensely enjoyable to me


On April 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Citadel was absolutely terrible. The fact that many people bought it suggests that we shouldn’t expect the game industry to grow up any time soon and tell good stories since kid jokes are way more profitable


On April 8, 2013 at 7:45 am

I had not bought any DLC for ME3, due to the ‘why bother’ factor.

I was sohoping that Citadel would be a post StarChild DLC, it’s what I’ve been hoping since March 8th 2012 when I finished the game originally.

I have not purchased Citadel. I have watched the copious amounts of YTube vids though. And the vids kept me from buying Citadel.

Hornshaw vocalizes what I thought was wrong with the Citadel DLC from the vids, and what kept me from buying it. (if Citadel had been post starchild I would have gone back and bought all the ME3 DLC)

And to Owen re: Saren in ME1, going after Saren was kind of THE WHOLE POINT of the game.


On April 10, 2013 at 3:01 am

The best thing about those kind of DLC is if you doesn’t buy it it never occured in your own canon.


On April 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I do agree it feels out of place and should have been the after party for destroying the Reapers, but I did enjoy the comedy and one liners this DLC brought. It was a total fan service to one bring the whole team together and to also make fun at anything and everything that made this series great. Yes, the price was a little steep for the DLC and am I sorry I paid $15 for it. Nope.