A Night to Remember
HIGH Finally bringing the entire team on a mission.
LOW Dr. Chakwas was a no-show.
WTF Finding Kasumi going through Shep's panty drawer.
Before I say anything else in this review, it's important to establish one thing right off the bat—no matter which way you slice it, Mass Effect 3: Citadel is pure, unadulterated fanservice.
Whether this is a good or bad thing is entirely subjective, but there's little doubt that this final downloadable content (DLC) acts a peace offering to soothe the furor that exploded after Mass Effect 3's original ending. People who were satisfied after that infamous conclusion may see Citadel as entirely unnecessary, but I suspect there's a large contingent of fans who will be overjoyed that it exists.
The "mission" begins with Commander Shepard receiving a customizable apartment on the Citadel. Shortly after, it's discovered that someone is trying to steal her identity, so the whole Scooby gang is rounded up and the chase is on.
Although the twist to this mystery was genuinely interesting, it's solved in short order. It's really just a pretense upon which to lay the real meat of this DLC: face time with the crew of the Normandy in a setting that's warmer, more relaxed and more humorous than the main campaign.
After the bad guys have been vaporized, Shepard has some free time and can partake in brief activities that shed light on characters: hanging out at an arcade with Zaeed, or being a wingman for Garrus in a local bar, for example. Although I played Paragon over the course of Mass Effect, I found myself leaning heavily Renegade in these instances, and the results were usually good for a laugh.
Speaking of laughter, there's no shortage of it here. Nearly every interaction with the crew is lighthearted and personable, and there are dozens of nods aimed directly at the fans, not to mention plenty of meta-winks at the series itself.
As a dedicated FemShep player, seeing a male Shepard cast aside in favor of the "real" one was a hoot. During the mission, the entire crew goes into the combat zone together, dividing themselves into Team Mako and Team Hammerhead. (Mako being the superior one, obviously.) Characters left behind grouse when they aren't chosen for active duty, and things only get sillier once the alcohol starts flowing at a massive party back at Shep's new digs.
To be honest, it feels strange to return to Mass Effect 3 after it ended the way it did, and to come back to a comedy-rich expansion that feels wholly separate from the game's world is even stranger. It's as if Citadel exists in its own little bubble isolated from everything else, and the entire universe (reapers included) is taking the day off. I imagine this interlude might feel tonally bizarre for a first-timer who hasn't rolled credits yet.
Putting that issue aside, the writing is sharp and pleasantly risqué, and I laughed out loud often. Seeing (almost) the entire crew together with nothing to do but dance, drink, and chat was really something else, and probably the best use of stealthy thief Kasumi ever. For people who are fans of these characters and their connections, Citadel is manna from heaven whether it fits in with the larger game or not.
There's no denying the sheer amount of joy and mirth to be had in Mass Effect 3: Citadel, even if knowing what led to its creation and how the story ends afterwards casts it in a strange, sad light. Even so, that doesn't change the fact that it's an irresistibly goofy good time. For that reason alone I'm glad that it exists, even though I never felt BioWare had anything to make up for in the first place. .
Disclosures: This game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Xbox 360. Approximately five hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the content was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game contains blood, partial nudity, sexual content, strong language and violence. Although all of these warning tags are accurate, I don't feel that this game is anywhere near being the most offensive or harmful thing on the market. All of the subject matter is used in the proper context, and the game itself is definitely aimed at mature players. It's a great experience and one that I would recommend… although not to children. Moms and dads, keep the little ones away and play this yourself.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing: There shouldn't be any issues to be concerned about here. Subtitles are available for all dialogue, and even though the combat happens in real-time, I never found any of the audio cues to be important or beneficial. Even though I can hear, I found it was more effective to watch where my teammates were aiming than it was to try and listen for gunfire. In my opinion, the game should be totally accessible to hearing-impaired players.