Posted on March 13, 2013, Phil Hornshaw Mass Effect 3′s Citadel Bad for the Game, Maybe Bad for the Future
I kind of dislike Mass Effect 3‘s Citadel DLC. And if you like it — you might frustrate me.
Not that you aren’t entitled to enjoy the DLC pack. It’s a pretty good pack, after all, and I had fun playing it. Ross Lincoln’s assessment in his Mass Effect 3 Citadel DLC review is not only completely valid, it’s right on the money in a lot of ways. My trouble with Citadel is that when viewed as a part of Mass Effect 3, the DLC is a bad addition to the story. It’s also a bad result of the criticism that gave rise to the Retake Mass Effect movement. And it’s bad on the larger landscape of expansive, deep video game storytelling.
Citadel is bad for Mass Effect and it’s bad for you, because if it does well, it’ll teach developers some very bad lessons from this whole Mass Effect 3 disaster.
Why Citadel is Kind of Bad
The trouble with Citadel is that it represents the worst form of pandering. It’s not an entirely terrible piece of DLC, although despite lots of people raving about how hilarious it is, I found the jokes fell flat about as often as they hit their mark. And with literally every character trying to deliver a joke with every line of dialogue, much of the meaningful humor is lost in the noise. I’ve never heard the phrase “sushi place” used so many times, often to a weak effect.
That’s not to say that Citadel isn’t funny, because it is. Standout gags like Liara and Shepard dispatching Glyph to “demoralize the enemy,” Javik’s “Team Prothean” report, and Tali’s touching story of sushi place racism against quarians and her plans to stride in triumphantly one day, ruined by Shepard’s uncanny bullet-attracting abilities, are just a few that really stick the landing. Mass Effect has always been occasionally funny, and these jokes really are pretty great in context. But that’s the thing that Citadel lacks: context.