Review

Mass Effect 3: Citadel

The Longer Goodbye

The “Citadel” add-on gives Mass Effect 3’s Commander Shepard and his friends the bon voyage they deserve.

By Drew Toal • March 18, 2013

“She wasn’t military. She couldn’t handle it.” In Mass Effect 3’s third and reportedly final expansion, “Citadel,” Admiral Anderson—Commander Shepard’s longtime commanding officer and surrogate father—leaves audio notes for his yet-to-be-written memoir lying around his apartment. Because he’s stranded on Earth indefinitely, with little hope of survival, Anderson decides to gift the place—his living quarters on the immense space hub known as the Citadel—to Shepard. Listening to Anderson relate how his ex-wife couldn’t cope with the hardships of the military lifestyle, I wondered what line of the Hapsburg dynasty she was descended from that living here would be considered a “hardship.” Anderson’s place is incredible. It’s unclear how he could afford it on his officer’s salary, but if a significant amount of money turns out to be missing from the Alliance war coffers, the first place I’d look is underneath the luxury mattress in Anderson’s sprawling baller pad.

Shepard’s trusty ship is in for maintenance, so the crew of the Normandy has a rare weekend of shore leave. As they say, though, days off are work too, and soon enough the team is pulled into an Ocean’s 11-esque tale of identity theft, genetic intrigue, and witty repartee.

Mass Effect 3: Citadel

This comedic installment is a necessary indulgence. Throughout the whole series, the relationships between Shepard and his crew—forged in a crucible of mutually assured extinction—propelled the game’s narrative. The worst part of the game’s controversial ending, to my mind, was that it didn’t provide an adequate sendoff. Kill them all if need be, but remind us again why survival in itself is not the only thing that matters. The sacrifice, when it inevitably comes, is more meaningful after being reminded of all that’s being left behind.

“Citadel” is so lighthearted that it borders on farce, but it’s cathartic for those of us who took to popping antidepressants like popcorn while wading through the perpetual gloom of Prehistoric Mega-Robots Vs. Humans parts one, two, and three. For the first time in the series, nearly everyone in Shepard’s posse comes along for the mission as they run down the heavily armed Nigerian space princes. Not all of your allies are playable at once, but sub-squads named Team Hammerhead and Team Mako (one of many nods to the previous games) protect the flanks while Shepard and two others go up the gut. The banter flies as fast and furious as the bullets; if only talking shit were enough to save the galaxy.

From the get-go, “Citadel” pokes fun at itself, and Mass Effect as a whole. Bioware’s keeps the fourth wall semi-transparent, a choice that pays off. The virtual intelligence butler, Glyph, for instance, wonders aloud why all of Shepard’s foes happen to leave valuable weapon upgrades lying around where just anyone can find them. That’s a good question, Glyph. Now shut your know-it-all robot mouth.

Mass Effect 3: Citadel

When the shooting is done, the journey isn’t quite over. After all, Shepard has a swank new pad that needs breaking in. The encore mission requires you to throw a successful rager. Shepard has some control over the invite list, so if you’re afraid of what will happen to the valuable artwork when two armed, inebriated turtle-warrior aliens get into the same room, feel free to not invite one of them. But I suggest the “invite all” option—unless, of course, your slapdash leadership left most of your friends dead. In that case, you may want to order fewer pizzas.

Shepard mingles and talks with the surviving members of the Normandy’s past and present crew throughout the night. For once, everyone leaves fear and melancholy at the door. Some friends hold their liquor better than others. And who would miss one last chance to belittle Shepard’s dance moves?

There are goodies and mini-games aplenty in “Citadel,” but they seem superfluous at this point. I definitely don’t need another shotgun or sniper rifle. The only thing I require right now, at this moment, is some high-powered closure.

At the beginning of the end of Mass Effect 3’s final mission, Shepard is allowed to briefly call his friends, wish them luck, and to say goodbye. Some lived, and some died, but it was as close as they got to a proper eulogy. We’re left with a much more fitting, satisfying remembrance when, at the end of “Citadel,” the crew crowds together on a couch to take a first and last Normandy group photo. Now, Shepard, you can go.

Mass Effect 3: Citadel
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Price: $15 (Mass Effect 3 required)
Rating: M

Share this with your friends and enemies

Write a scintillating comment

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    True story: when I played through Mass Effect 3, every time Glyph spoke, I muttered, “Fuck you, Glyph” under my breath.

    I think I might pick this up before doing a full-series run-through. I’ve always appreciated BioWare’s sense of humour, and this add-on has been getting good reviews everywhere.

    • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle

      Glyph always reminded me of Kryten from Red Dwarf with “Smug Mode” enabled. 

      Speaking of Glyph, it really fit with the tone of the DLC that the VI which sifts through all of the Shadow Broker intel, potentially helping save the galaxy’s inhabitants from annihilation, also gets a few days off to organize a piss up.

      Anyway I would encourage you to try and remain as spoiler free as possible with this DLC because there are so many fun and wtf moments that would lose some of their awesomeness if you knew they were coming. But avoiding spoilers is going to be difficult around here!

      • George_Liquor

        I think I talked to that annoying, cut-rate Guilty Spark maybe twice in the whole game. 

      • Fluka

        This DLC is so good, it made me happy to see Glyph whenever he was on screen. Seriously, I don’t know how they managed to make him funny.

        EDIT: Also, avoid spoilers, for god’s sake! No matter how much I wanna talk about that last boss battle, aaagh…

        • PaganPoet

          I liked Glyph’s bowtie.

  • ItsTheShadsy

    I remember when BioWare first addressed criticism of the ending, and they said people’s responses would affect future DLC. A lot of people wondered how that would matter when the DLC takes place during the events of the game.

    Well, tada.

    • Halloween_Jack

      Quite a few people on the ME subreddit said that they are deciding that it’s the True Ending–in other words, from now on, if they’re doing a playthrough, they play through to Horizon, then do the Citadel DLC… and stop there.

      • GaryX

        Yeah, but that is problematic when everyone was whining that they “didn’t need some happy ending where everyone went to a big party.” Then, whoops, guess they did.

        • Halloween_Jack

          Well, there are lots of different opinions out there (such as Film Critic Hulk, who thought that the original ending was great, and hated the EC), but when you consider that someone went to the trouble to make a Happy Ending mod…

        • GaryX

          @Halloween_Jack:disqus True, true.

          Man did I dislike that FCH article though.

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

          On reflection, FCH’s take on the ending does not hold up. Hulk tried to take the Catalyst’s logic as “correct”, and argue that the entire trilogy reflected that theme. Once you add in the Leviathan DLC, especially, you can see that the Catalyst’s logic is just that of a broken machine.

          The point of the end of Mass Effect 3 wasn’t that your three choices were supposed to be “correct”; the player does not need to accept the logic of the Catalyst. The player was required to choose between (arguably) non-ideal solutions.

        • NichaelBluth

          As I’ve said many times, it wasn’t that a happy ending was desired, it was that a coherent ending that fit the themes of the series was required. One of themes of the series just so happens to be that nothing is impossible when diverse people and groups work together. Citadel fits that.

          The true endings of the game either don’t fit the established themes, or are so silly that they seem like they came out of poorly written fan fiction (Synthesis…).

        • GaryX

          @NichaelBluth:disqus I’m not arguing against that (and mostly feel the same way). I just think it’s funny that a lot of people felt this comic was unfair but really like the “celebratory” nature of the Citadel DLC: http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2012/03/16

          Mostly, though, I was just overexaggerating and being a dick.

        • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

          @NichaelBluth:disqus : The Mass Effect trilogy was never going to have the kind of strong themes that you would expect in an epic novel or film. The story was a collaborative effort. Drew Karpyshyn was “head writer” for ME1 and ME2, and even he didn’t have final say on anything.

          Though it’s by no means wrong to wish the game were high art, and judge it accordingly.

        • Roswulf

          @twitter-493417375:disqus I don’t agree with the idea that only an auterist work driven by a single creator can carry deep thematic meaning. Yes, that is how novels work, but there are a wide variety of other storytelling forms with thematic power that rely on creative collaborations to tell stories with thematic resonance. Speaking only for myself, I’m especially attracted to forms like musical theater and American network television that require very high degrees of collaboration at a storytelling level. Thematic coherence may be harder to achieve with such forms, but when it is achieved the results can be magical. Give me the thematic power of Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Robbins and dozens of actors piecing together West Side Story, and I’ll be eternally happy.

          To return to the Mass Effect ending itself [VAGUE SPOILERS FOR ME3 ALTHOUGH THIS IS A THREAD ON THE ENDING OF MASS EFFECT 3 SO THIS IS PROBABLY UNNECESARY], I was bothered by the lack of thematic resonance in Shepherds final choice because of the moments earlier in the game that got the thematic and character beats so right. I would actually have been perturbed had Mass Effect ended with anything but a heroic sacrifice, but I wanted my Shepherd to enact as powerful a final sequence as Legion, or Mordin (oh god, Mordin), or even that random Krogan who fell in love with an Asari. For me at least, a final choice premised on the idea that “Disastrous war is inevitable”  enforced by a genocidal nutjob was thematically unsatisfying in a narrative so defined by these unifying and extremely well-motivated setpiece sacrifices. And earlier moments in the same game had proven to me that this creative team was capable of more.

          Well, at least I was unsatisfied at the end of my first, mostly Paragon Shep’s playthrough. My second playthrough was specifically designed around creating a character who would gain thematic closure by pressing the Kill Em All button, and his ending felt suitably tragic and meaningful.

      • http://alixnoorchis.livejournal.com alixnoorchis

        As far as I’m concerned, this is my Shepards’ true endings.  One might even say it’s their dying hallucination or afterlife (destroy) comforting subroutine of human fantasy (control) or a shared augmented reality program among friends (synthesis).
         

    • Dwigt

      It’s more or less a parallel universe mission, just like these Halloween add-ons for Red Dead Redemption or Sleeping Dogs which are in some way an irreverent spoof of the main game.

      Anyway, it’s interesting that Drew mentions the eulogy for each supporting character in the middle of the London mission. Remember that it was the only moment in the ending that had input from the whole writing team, and not just Mac Walters and Casey Hudson, and it was done at Patrick Weekes’ suggestion, Weekes being the guy who posted his feelings on the ending on the Penny Arcade forums:

      http://www.gamefront.com/did-a-mass-effect-3-writer-slam-the-ending/

      He’s right with the original ending being too abstract and cold (which made the logical holes, that were numerous in the previous missions and games, much more glaring). And he’s right with the idea of Shepard’s sacrifice as a climax. We just didn’t get why Shepard had to sacrifice himself in this particular situation.

      And rumor is that Citadel started as a collection of in-jokes by the staff writers at BioWare behind Walters and Hudson’s back, then management found it interesting and they gave the green light on the whole DLC. Basically these are the ingredients that the rest of the writers found to be missing from the ending (original or extended) and that they were allowed to add here, to balance the very serious and tragical tone of the ending.

      There will never be a possible ending that gives us everybody we wanted from ME3, but combine these in your memories and it should be a good mix.

      • Thats_A_Paddlin

         I’d just like to say that as a gamer for the past 25 years, the ME trilogy has stuck with me the most, just squeaking out ahead of Journey.  I’m not normally the type to replay games but I did in this instance and it didn’t feel like a slog.  The ending wasn’t my favorite but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the trilogy. 

  • http://twitter.com/vowelsagogo Kilzor

    This is an integrated DLC, and not possible to boot up separately, correct? I just don’t know if I have the emotions in reserve to go through the game one more time (eh, who am I kidding, these are the things I specifically save my feelings for).

    • http://twitter.com/Gerardi Matt Gerardi

      That’s right. If you finished ME3, you should have an autosave that places you basically two missions back from the end of the game. You can load that up and just head to the Citadel to do all the DLC stuff. 

      • http://twitter.com/vowelsagogo Kilzor

        It’s times like this that I ALMOST feel foolish about re-renting a game so that I can spend $15 to then actually play it.  

  • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

    *adds to giant pile of games blocking out the sun*

    • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle

      *attempts to download, realizes hard drive is full, deletes Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion to make space*

      • HobbesMkii

         Noooooo!

        • GaryX

          He’s made a huge mistake.

        • djsubversive

          Every time someone uninstalls a strategy game, Hobbes feels it. He’s like some sort of stratejedi.

        • Effigy_Power

          Watch me waterboard this copy of Europa Universalis… It’ll make his heart explode.

  • Marquis Moon

    If you had a friend who did something really shitty to you and broke your heart, and you hadn’t talked to them since then, and then they showed up at a party you were at and acted like everything you said was really impressive and laughed too much at your jokes, that’s how I imagine playing this would feel.

    • http://www.tumblr.com/tumblelog/lastbutnotleast janinedm

      It’s more like the friend showed up with a bottle of Johnny Walker Green Label and brick oven pizzas.

  • fieldafar

    Good to see this is worth spending 1200 Microsoft Bucks on. 

    But I don’t know if I can bring myself to play Mass Effect 3 again. Maybe when I bother to start playing all three again, like @Merve2:disqus mentioned. 

    • The_Misanthrope

       Yeah, that’s my thing, too.  That’s the problem with having such a conclusive ending, I suppose.  I don’t really feel like stepping back into that world right away after such a physical (and emotional) gauntlet.

  • Simon Jones

    I liked this.

    Why?

    Because it had characters I liked in it rather than your terrible, boring default party from ME3. 

    • KidvanDanzig

      They really shot themselves in the foot by sidelining Kaiden / Ash for half the game. They get no character development at all if you’re not boning them (and why would you? They’re hideous and aggravating in every way).

      I’ll go on record as saying that I liked Vega a lot more than I thought I would, largely because of Freddie Prinze Jr’s bizarrely good VA and his general lack of angst. He’s Jack without the ‘tude and the secret crying jags. EDI… well, you can’t win them all.

      And Javik was good for all the unique dialogue he would bring to the missions as he reminisced about how dumb all these races used to be. Making him a total asshole was a smart move on Bio’s part.

      • Simon Jones

        Here’s the thing. I really liked the ME2 party. They were fun. They had the exact amount of personality I wanted out of a starship crew. They had a character quirk, a skillset and a hook.  ME3 reeked of…I really don’t want to use the term Femshepper as a pejorative, but I was stuck with the Fan Servicey Dating Simulator Crew.

        Vega I was more okay with than I thought I would be. But I had a party with Gynobot, Garrus who does not have that much of a personality if you play Broshep, coming across as kind of a Wrex Lite and, this is what really shits me; Not one but two Immoens.

        Two.

        Goddamn.

        Immoens.

        • Thats_A_Paddlin

          Is that someone from Baldur’s Gate?  Who were the two? 

        • Roswulf

          @Thats_A_Paddlin:disqus indeed Imoen is from Baldur’s Gate, the relentlessly upbeat (well, for the first game) and aggressively cute young female thief that serves as the protagonists closest friend. The two Imoen’s would be Tali and Liara.

          I don’t agree with Simon, myself. Yes, all three are small female characters with a geeky thing going on. But by ME3, Tali’s position as an Admiral and Liara’s status as the Shadow Broker lead to very un-Imoen-like attitudes and responsibilities. I never got the feeling that Tali and Liara had interchangeable roles in the story, or that their dialogue blended together. Certainly not moreso than Vega and Ash (badass space marines with lingering insecurities ahoy!). I really do think Mass Effect did an admirable job developing all the companion aliens from the first game as they moved from a misfit squad to galactic movers and shakers. This is most obvious with Wrex, of course, but it applies across the board

          But then I’ve played the game through twice, romancing, well, the two Imoens so I probably should not be trusted. I also remember rather liking Imoen. Probably my favorite Baldur’s gate character not associated with space hamsters.

      • Halloween_Jack

        The thing about Vega is that, at first, once you look at his powerset and basic personality, you think, “He’s basically a human krogan with less general aggrogenic tendencies–why didn’t they just make him a krogan squad member, maybe that little Urdnot scout from Mordin’s loyalty mission?” Then you have your little boxing match with him and buy drinks for the other space marines on his suggestion (and, maybe, wonder if that batarian tattooist is writing something really nasty in batarian on his back) and you realize, hey, having a human krogan around is kind of cool.

      • GaryX

        I kinda of still can’t forgive making Javik a DLC only character.

        • NichaelBluth

          He wasn’t going to be originally. It really is kind of disgusting that he was one, but what are you going to do? That’s the way the industry, unfortunately, is now.

        • http://twitter.com/Wardatrigger Warda

          I was gifted an xbox and the trilogy, with some DLC already in place, I was surprised to find out what was DLC and what wasn’t after finishing.

      • http://twitter.com/septembergrrl Elisabeth

         Agreed. When I first met Vega I was prepared for him to be just as boring and annoying as Jacob was. Then he turned out to have a sense of humor and to tease the crap out of everybody and so on, and now he’s one of my favorites.

      • Thats_A_Paddlin

        I never understood why they could make the MaleShep handsome and all of the aliens look amazing, yet Ashley and Kaiden’s faces were all kinds of busted.  Plus Ashley was a racist and Kaiden was just sooo fucking boring. (the default FemShep is hideous, too)

        • KidvanDanzig

          Manshepard’s face was just a really glaringly obvious facecapture of a Canadian actor. Everybody else had to contend with the terrible facegen tech. Dudes ended up looking like deformed apes, women looked SLIGHTLY better. Asari benefited from not having awful UE3 plastic hair. Liara and a few other prominent Asaris might have also had real faces.

        • Simon Jones
      • Thats_A_Paddlin

         God, the hair, the hair! My FemShep only had the short pixie haircut because that’s all I could stand to look at for 50+hours.  I also love how every NPC woman has the exact same body type and size.

  • Ferrersmith
    • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle

      I’m not sure I want to purchase fine jewelry from a website that thinks Antarctica is a country.

      And that’s a flaggin’.

      • Effigy_Power

        D’uh. It’s clearly a duchy.

  • KidvanDanzig

    I enjoyed it immensely, and for the first time since KOTOR we get a memorable antagonist from Bioware. 

    And while you nailed it down in terms of the overall thrust of the thing, the DLC is actually comprised of four different things – the mission (which is tons of fun and manages to have actual stakes for players who are bored of all the galaxy-wide reaper bullshit), the pre-party meetings with your squad (which provide the bulk of the comedy / affectionate sendoffs) and the party itself. 

    The fourth element is the actually-pretty-awesome combat simulator, which unlike Pinnacle Station from ME1 is well-designed and married to pretty good combat mechanics. You pick your squad (including Wrex and all ME2 companions if they survived) and choose from a combination of 7 combat stages, 4 enemy types (cerberus, geth, reapers, collectors) and 4  difficulty levels. 

    So for example, you can fight in a space station or an Asari ruin against virtual reapers that range in power from “ground troops” (cannibals and marauders) to “super elite” (marauders, ravagers, brutes and banshees), with a 4th and final difficulty level being a “shadow match” ala Mortal Kombat, where your enemies are a squad of nameless human AIs with the same class layout as your party (it’s fucking brutal, they always blitz you). You can make things harder or easier for yourself (stronger enemies, no medigel, no ammo pickup, increased gun damage etc) with requisite final score adjustments (you’ll get miniquests through these too – Alliance engineers wanting to see your all-Alliance team beat elite cerberus, a skeptical hanar who challenges you to prove you’re not a cheat by going without medigel, etc). It adds a ton of replayability to the game. In terms of reward you will eventually get your pick of one of 3 cerberus armor designs, one for soldiers one for casters etc.

    Anyway, a few things:
    1. On PC, it appears that Bioware didn’t bother to put in a functional exit button on the casino games, so avoid them. This is something I believe they’ve done before.
    2. The first fight in the quest is admirably difficult for most classes but for a few of them it can get really brutal, especially those that rely on armor mods to minimize power cooldown. The new pistol is wildly overpowered, though.
    3. Another bug – tons of people have been reporting that the invites to hang out before the party aren’t working. Most people simply have to resolve all requests on hand and make a roundtrip from the apartment to the strip and back, and a couple of new messages will arrive (this is what I had to do). Some people have reported being locked out entirely.
    4. Somewhat related to 3 – If you haven’t encountered a character yet in your game, you can’t meet them or invite them to the party. I’m assuming that you can start the mission ASAP (after the Cerberous Coup on the Citadel), go through it sans Tali and whoever else, go back out into the game and return once you’ve met everyone to start the meetings / party. But I guess it’s possible that the game will straight-up lock out anyone you haven’t met for showing up. Don’t quite know, I started mine at the last possible time, which is when it should be played.

    You can definitely tell why it took them a year to make and is massive in size. A for effort, A for execution in my book. Too bad you have to get through so many Max Payne dreams and Kai Leng fights to use it, and still look forward to that final ending.

    5. Oh also for the pervs among you, if your Shepard hasn’t romanced anyone (or if they romanced a dead person [Jacob is dead inside]?) there are a couple of new ~paramours~ – dudesheps OR ladysheps can now DO IT with Samara if they indicated interest in ME2 (paragonz only), and ladysheps can bone Vega (for some strange reason) or Javik (for ALL strange reason).

    • Halloween_Jack

      The temptation to redo a playthrough specifically so that I can set up something with Samara or Javik (Vega would be too weird, for some reason) is almost overwhelming. I feel a little guilty about this as a FemShep/Liara OTP shipper, but kind of rationalize it by thinking that Liara would (or should) be open to a threesome with either.

      DON’T JUDGE ME

    • Fluka

      Awww yeeeaahhh Javik romance. My renegade Shep is all over that. They’re already best buds after she didn’t cure the genophage.

      The first battle is extremely easy for a charging and novaing Vanguard. Who cares about limited ammo when you are a human cannon? However, (to avoid spoilers), being a Vanguard human cannon in the final boss battle is really fucking annoying.

      • Halloween_Jack

        Yeah, that last battle… I took on the clone when she was right in front of me at first, then spent some quality time taking out the adds in the back before I went back to whittling down her medi-gels.

    • GaryX

      I’m really intrigued by the lower stakes of the thing. On the Bombcast recently, they were talking about wanting games that had something akin to more “TV stakes,” and I can’t help but feel that’d be really refreshing. Less chosen one save the world bullshit, and more smaller but intimate threats that allow us to actually explore and hang out with characters. In some ways, this is similar to The Walking Dead‘s stakes (my favorite episode, 2, was pretty cliche but the way it went about those beats and used the characters to deal with them were great).

      If the next game was just a C-Sec game of doing shit day in and day out, maybe tied to some overall story, I’d play the shit out of it.

      Won’t ever happen though.

      • Fluka

        “TV stakes” is exactly what makes Mass Effect 2 so great. The main story is kinda pointless, so it’s a game consisting of more intimate loyalty and recruitment mission “episodes.” It’s a great character ensemble about a team working together, instead of Giant Important Battles.

        A C-Sec game would be neat. I’m putting my money on it being about mercenaries or spacepirates, though.

        • GaryX

          They actually brought that part of Mass Effect 2 up, and I realized why I probably enjoyed it during so much. I feel like they could have struck a balance a bit better because the two poles (loyalty vs mytharc missions–I’ve recently started the X-Files so forgive me) feel really drastic, but I would love to see more games continue in that vein. Have plenty of smaller, character building stories, but just tie them into the overall arc better or make the overall arc more interesting/present.

          You’re probably right. Either way, I hope they choose to explore the universe more–which is what made ME1 feel so novel–rather than going back to the “Save the universe” well.

        • Halloween_Jack

          Agreed about the TV stakes. Neither of the final boss fights from the first two games were as good as the climax of Garrus’ loyalty mission done Paragon style, when you’re having intense conversations with both Garrus and Sidonis while your head is the only thing separating the bullets of an ace sniper from the guy that he desperately wants to kill. Or you’re finding out how bad Jack’s childhood was, and wow, it was really, really bad. Or having ethics discussions with Mordin over the body of a dead krogan woman. Or… well, you know. 

      • dmikester

        I would absolutely love to play something like this too, and @Fluka:disqus is dead on about that factor being why ME 2 is so much fun and involving, especially compared to the other games in the trilogy (not that the other two aren’t great in their own right).  My favorite part of Assassin’s Creed 3, and by far the most surprising part, was the series of Homestead missions, which were slow-paced, had lowish stakes, but really felt like they mattered to all of the characters involved.  They also took place over a long period of time, so you got to see people evolve and experience major life events like giving birth, and feel like you had created a real community in the end.  It was a much, much better and more powerful narrative for me than the main game, and I would happily play a lengthy game based on characters rather than heavy-handed plot.

  • Captain Internet

    Hey, it’s not even Friday and we get to talk about Mass Effect!

    • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle

      My Shepard romanced an abomination made from Garrus and Kaidan junk DNA in a failed Cerberus experiment, called Gaidan.

      Who did your Shepard romance?

      • http://blinkinglightsandbleepingnoises.blogspot.co.uk/ The Visible Man

         Liara and Jack. My Shepard loves the bald ladies.

        • Halloween_Jack

          Even if BioWare had made ME3 perfect in any other way, I will never quite forgive them for shutting out FemShep romancing Jack, The Only Explicitly Bisexual Human Character (And Kaidan Doesn’t Count, Sorry) And Goddamn It I Will Not Drop This Ever.

        • Halloween_Jack

          Also, too, although I mentioned being a FemShep/Liara shipper above, that’s really for Paragon FemShep; Renegade FemShep with the suedehead haircut + Jack = Space Pirates 4eva. 

      • Bad Horse

        Keep in mind that I am a PS3 user so my first two Shepards only went through 2 and 3. My first Shepard struck out with Jacob and got with Traynor. My second nailed Miranda but only had eyes for Liara in the end. 
        My current Shepard, starting from the beginning, is Kaidan all the way.

      • Fluka

        Garrus, with an embarrassing level of enthusiasm on my part.

        Uber-renegade Shepard in theory romanced Thane, but with the release of this DLC is now secretly soulmates with Javik.

        • Thats_A_Paddlin

          Did they show them kissing?  How is it even possible with those razor sharp teeth he has and bony jaw?  I liked Garrus but I couldn’t get past that part, shallow as it is. 

        • Fluka

          @Thats_A_Paddlin:disqus There’s kissing, but with lots of artful obscuring camera angle work!  ”And now…he dips her backwards and out of the frame!”  Honestly, this is a good part of the Garrus romance.  The difficult, uh, geometry of of the relationship means that there is a minimum of awkward onscreen uncanny valley canoodling.  (Extra like denoted here for awesome username.)

        • Halloween_Jack

          The important thing with Garrus is, of course, as Mordin tells us, not to swallow.

      • Effigy_Power

        Jack when I could, Miranda when I couldn’t.
        I guess I am just not into blue ladies or tentacles, at least not as much as you’d think.

      • neodocT

         I went with Liara in the first game, then a double dose of Tali. I’m actually surprised so many people ignored Tali, I’ve always really enjoyed her weird personality. She was the Normandy’s Willow Rosenberg!

        • Effigy_Power

          I actually think it’s the other way around. Since Tali fulfills the archetype of the quirky geek-girl we’d all love to spend a weekend with, alternating between sex and playing Mario Kart, I strongly assume that almost everyone has dabbled in it… to the point where mentioning Tali is the equivalent of mentioning that you reloaded your gun.
          There may be better arm-candy in the game, but Tali is clearly the person I’d like to get stuck in a mountain cabin with… if there’s a SNES.

        • GaryX

          @Effigy_Power:disqus Kind of my thoughts exactly. She was so clearly the geeky, shy, but maybe secretly hot and sexy space alien.

        • Simon Jones

           I hate Tali with a firey passion for exactly that reason.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        Traynor, but mainly for shits and giggles because I had explicitly avoided romance in the first 2 games.

        • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle

          I love that everyone has answered my question seriously.

      • Thats_A_Paddlin

        Also a PS3 user so started with 2, then 3, and am now playing 1.  So my FemShep (who, if I may say so, is gorgeous in a tough kind of way) loved and lost Thane, Traynor, and am now getting ready to snag Liara in 1.  None of the dudes except Thane were interesting.  I guess Traynor ended up being pretty boring but she was practically throwing it in my face.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          Off topic: I approve of your username/avatar combo.

      • Thats_A_Paddlin

         Was it a ninja?

    • Captain Internet

      Anyway, I did very much enjoy this DLC. It’s straight-up Whedonesque comedy, and about 90% successful in that- the main exceptions being a ditzy new character and a horrible optional section with Javik that forced me to remove my headphones and hammer the space-bar until it stopped. 
      Still, it’s practically constructed from nice touches, some of my favourite being the off-duty N7 soldiers complaining about the moronic stuff people do in the multiplayer mode. 

      I still maintain that Mass Effect was really all about the characters, and I think this DLC underscores that. There aren’t any big science fiction concepts here, but you can win a cuddly toy.

      • Roswulf

         Ugh, thank you for flagging the Jaavik material. I did my first Citadel playthrough with my beloved first, and Jaavik-less Shepherd. One of my primary reasons for playing through a second time with my less-beloved second Shep was seeing any new Jaavik stuff, as I tended to find him consistently entertaining (also my second Shep is a Vanguard, and it’s just so much dumb fun to Charge things and then shoot them in the face with a shotgun).

        That Jaavik scene was…not good. And what’s worse it damages the long-running moderately amusing [REALLY SLIGHT SPOILERS] Blasto running joke. The Blastos are not micro-budget direct to DVD schlock, they are a galactic mega-franchise! His movies may be dumb, but they shouldn’t be incompetent.

        Nevertheless the DLC as a whole did leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling. Heck, I’m such a Mass Effect character mark that I would have been satisfied paying this much for [SLIGHTLY LARGER SPOILERS] Mordin’s noir and rendition of Amazing Grace alone. Sniff.

      • Fluka

        The Javik scene is super-disappointing, but for me it was more than made up for by Grunt’s scene. “Sprayed us down with Riot Foam, heh heh. Didn’t work so well on me.” “And why’s that?” “Cuz I was on fire? Come on, Shepard, try to keep up.” Everything involving Grunt in this DLC was a total delight.

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        I’d say Mass Effect 2 was definitely about the characters, which is probably why it’s my favourite of the three. The central story is pretty straightforward; the bulk of the game is all about recruitment and loyalty.

    • Fluka

      Awww yisss! A socially acceptable reason to discuss Mass Effect!

      • Effigy_Power

        You… people.

      • Electric Dragon

        I’m thinking of starting a petition to get that weekly feature renamed to “What Are You Playing This Week Apart From Mass Effect Yes Fluka We Know You Are Still Playing Mass Effect But We Want To Hear About Some Different Games Now Please”

        • Fluka

          Hey!  I’ve made a concerted effort to not mention Mass Effect in my WAYPTW!  Not my fault if others continue to discuss it, and I might have some enthused input in said matters…

  • Fluka

    This really was a good final goodbye, wasn’t it? The final moments are poignant enough to almost make me reconsider my final choice for my Shep’s fate. Otherwise, the presiding mood is, for lack of a better word, gleeful. You can tell that the people involved really love their creation, and are having loads of unserious fun. (Also: silliest, best boss fight ever.)

    Aagh, urge to discuss spoilers…so strong… Will…resist!

    The game really does early its $15 price several times over in terms of sheer volume of content. I thought I had done a fairly thorough job of things, and there were *still* parts that I missed (spaaaaaace haammmsstteerrrr *sob*). I never ended up finishing all of the levels of the Armax Arena, either. Time to play it again, I guess. But now, if you excuse me, cough..

    I should go.

    • Effigy_Power

      While I can see that some people are sad that Shep’s ME story is finally done, I think we should be thankful (unless EA decides otherwise) that this isn’t getting drawn out any further.
      American media has a strong tendency to beat dead horses and oversaturate the market with their stuff. Just look at out TV-series… LOST had 421 seasons with 11,000 episodes each (at least that’s what it felt like) and we are poorer for it.
      A clear ending that doesn’t leave the whole setting in a lurch and invites future molestation from less talented developers.

      -contains spoilers to… erch… do we even still have to assume someone on this planet doesn’t know the ending to ME3?-

      That’s why the end-result of the ME3 ending was perfectly fine with me, though not the way it was done. Shep’s sacrifice was something I anticipated since game one, since that was the central theme of the whole series. The Illusive Man sacrifices his humanity to save it, Mordin sacrifices himself for redemption (choke), Anderson sacrifices himself partially for his home and partially for Shep like a father would, Kirrahe sacrifices himself (potentially) in the name of duty. And then there are the less ambiguously evil characters, who sacrifice others. Again the Illusive Man sacrifices Miranda for his goals, sacrifices a huge space station full of people even. Jacob’s father sacrifices his crew for the sake of comfort and power, Zaeed potentially sacrifices the lives of innocents for revenge.

      Even the lore of the game deals with it. The Protheans sacrifice hundreds of their slumbering self to protect the vital data about the Conduit, for example.
      Shep’s death is fine, it’s what had to happen. The fact that Shep now also has an emotional ending rather than just a factual one is a good thing, but only if it’s the last thing we ever hear about it, content-wise. The eulogy should be the final reminder of a life well lived, well, played. Let’s hope it’s not spoiled with a DLC of Shep trying to escape the digestive tract of a Thresher Maw.

      • Moonside_Malcontent

         A point well made, and one reinforced, I think, by the choices that are available in determining Shepard’s fate.  Mass Effect as a series is, maybe, the best example of how games can allow for a personalized connection with a work of art or storytelling that is difficult to match in other media.  Which is why it is all the more frustrating when, for financial reasons, developers stretch a story past its point of closure.  That’s not to say this DLC was unnecessary; far from it, it provides a touching counterpoint to the harshness of final ending.  But there comes a point when the symphony is over, and all the lovingly crafted codas in the world would not make it any finer.

      • Fluka

        Nicely said. This DLC constitutes “just enough” Shepard-based Mass Effect for me. Particularly with that very sweet last scene at the docs, it feels like Really the End. The story’s been told, the characters have been celebrated one last time and laid to rest, and it’s time for something new. (Dear comics industry: please learn this lesson too.) I’ll be curious to see what happens with Mass Effect 4, which they’ve already said will try to avoid a Shepard-style story as much as possible.

        Depressing things: a popular “Happy Ending” fan mod, which completely removes the final conversation and choice, results in Shepard living and hugging their love interest, and is rescored to the Suicide Mission music.

      • GaryX

        Hey, I still give LOST the credit that it at least intentionally shortened it run and set an end date.
        Doesn’t excuse the final season though.

  • http://twitter.com/tapirman Kyle O’Reilly

    Goddammit.  You have to have a save somewhere in the middle of the goddgam game don’t you! I want a Wrex party!

    • Fluka

      Well, you can use the autosave the game makes right after the final mission, which should save right before the Cerberus Base. Perfect time for it, too, when all the characters should be available.

  • neodocT

    I just finished ME3 on Saturday. And the ending was… okay, I guess.

    I played with the Extended Cut, so I know there were some differences there, but I’m really curious to know why people got SO worked up with the ending. Were there legitimate concerns or was it more of a fanboy rage thing? I’m sure the Gameological folks will give me some reasonable answers!

    (As an aside, and because I don’t want to wait until Friday, my next project is to go through all of the Metal Gear series for the first time!)

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      As with most controversies of this nature, 20% less-than-stellar ending, 80% unreasonable fanboy rage.

      • Effigy_Power

        Well, it was 50/50 first, but then devolved to that.
        Mind you, NOT seeing Shep ride through the castle gates on a white charger with the dragon’s head on the back was a huuuuuuge disappointment for me.

      • KidvanDanzig

        IIRC, Gameological Society had debuted shortly before ME3′s release, you can go back to the review and reread what everyone’s reactions were.

        Regardless of whether or not it was a fitting end to the series, the pre-EC ending was shoddily made and executed, and bewildering more than anything.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          Actually, ME3 was one of the last games reviewed on the old AVC.

        • Fluka

          @Merve2:disqus But it was the first Digest!

        • neodocT

           Thanks for the tip!

    • GaryX

      I thought it was a cop-out (though I thought a lot of the way they dealt with “choices” was), but it wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be. I think a large portion of anger came from people who took what the lead devs were saying too seriously ( http://bit.ly/U7p9ny ) and generally suffered from what felt like a super, super forced dues ex machine for the sake of “ambiguity.” It also didn’t help that the original endings were pretty much identical except for a color difference, and the overall thing felt rushed–sequences didn’t make logistical sense, it would show your Shep remembering someone (s)he didn’t actually romance, no discussion whatsoever what happened after the “event,” etc. 

      I don’t think it warranted quite the backlash it got, but I think it was fare to get called out for it. Especially with the bullshit Bioware did by adding DLC that adds CRAZY UNIVERSE CHANGING SHIT for the sake of reinforcing their ending. You don’t lay the groundwork for a late game twist in DLC that comes out after the fact.

      I’m very excited to hear what you think about MGS. I love that series dearly even though I came to it very late. I played through Solid with a friend sometime in 07 then bought the collection when it came out on PS2, beat them all and then bought a PS3 for MGS4 (with BC even!). It’s so fucking insane and goofy and sometimes not even very good. But there’s nothing quite like it, and I’ll love it for that.

      Though, I haven’t touched them since the first playthrough, and just this weekend I started up MGS and toyed with the idea of doing another run through of the series. Maybe I will now if I have someone to talk to it about (I won’t spoil anything, promise!).

      • neodocT

        The mechanics for choosing the ending of ME3 was what really bothered me, really. I detest the whole “press switch 1 for ending 1″ kind of ending. It was also, by far, my biggest gripe with Deus Ex:HR.

        I should also add that I didn’t really *like* any of my choices. I get that the game always made you choose between difficult positions, but BroShep always seemed to find another way. I ended up choosing the synthesis ending, but I don’t understand how that will solve any of the game’s problems. Oh well. At least the sacrifice made perfect thematic sense.

        EDIT: also, Buzz Aldrin!

        I get all those problems, but I didn’t mind them too much. I know that not all the choices you make during the series affect the ending, but there are so many callbacks to your earlier actions during the main game that I really did feel like I was playing the same character throught all three games. That’s impressive enough for me.

        About MGS: I’m not a total virgin to the series. I played MGS2 until that skater bomber boss guy, when I rented the game back when it was first released. I also beat MGS4, but lacking much knowledge of the game, I spaced out on all the many, many cutscenes. So I do have a general idea of what happens in each game, but I don’t know the specifics of it all.

        I bought the first MGS for the PSN yesterday, and just couldn’t put it down. The gameplay was fantastic, specially for its time, and the graphics and atmosphere really hit me in the nostalgias. I got all the way to the second Sniper Wolf boss fight before I had to do adult stuff like working. But I’m already really excited to return to Shadow Moses when I get to MGS4.

        My biggest problem so far is the melodrama, and I know enough about the series to know that won’t get much better. But do we *really* need a 20 minute monologue about the evils of war everytime a character dies?

  • Halloween_Jack

    Aside from the already-noted lack of FemShep/Jack romance options (but I’ve got my eye on Samara now, oh yes I do) and the inexplicable loss of most of Wrex’s biotic abilities–biotic krogan is kind of cool–I loved and laughed with this DLC so hard. I’m going to try putting off the party itself until after the Horizon mish just to get the scene with Jack and Miranda which I’ve already seen on YouTube but damn I have to see it for myself. 

    Also, romance-wise, my FemShep started with Liara, had a little something-something with Thane, then took up again with Liara, despite her catty comment about substituting for Thane’s dead wife. [SPOILERS DUH] Thing is, even if you take up with Liara again, Thane still refers to you as “siha” in conversation. (In fact, I thought that my FemShep could get away with giving Thane a mercy fuck before he died, only to forget that she was dating the Shadow Broker, duh, and I decided to go back and not do that rather than play through past Thane’s death to see if Liara took me back. I might try that eventually.) Also, when Thane dies, even if you’re now with someone else, you get that heartbreaking last letter. And, of course, when you play back Thane’s last video messages, FemShep has tears running down her face. Man, space romance is complicated. 

    • http://twitter.com/septembergrrl Elisabeth

      Dammit. I just started a fresh playthrough and I was going to do Liara and then Traynor, but you reminded me why I love Shep/Thane so very much.

    • Thats_A_Paddlin

       FemShep & Thane 4Eva

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      Fanwank: Wrex removed his biotic implants after defeating Saren, and hasn’t bothered to keep his skills up.

      • Halloween_Jack

        Could be true! Or he had them removed because they were sapping strength that he needed for reviving the krogan race. (There’s apparently a scene in the casino involving him and a bag of ice that I really, really need to see now.) 

  • DrFlimFlam

    This is some awesome-sounding DLC, but I’ll never fork over $15 for a few extra hours of content. $15 is about what I spend on entire games these days. Let me know when it’s $10 or less, BioWare/Microsoft, and I’ll jump in with both booted feet.

    • KidvanDanzig

      fwiw, if you like ME3′s combat, the combat sim aspect justifies the extra $5.

  • Thats_A_Paddlin

    This timing is good because I’m finally playing ME1 on PS3 after playing 2 and 3, so I can roll right into this DLC after. It’s been awesome actually playing through the “key” events instead of clicking a choice in an interactive comic.  I gotta say, coming from 2 and 3 to the endless mako driving and identical buildings/missions is a bit jarring, also the combat suuuucks in 1 (seriously, why do my teammates shoot at crates and stand in front of me?? why???).  But the story is spectacular, of course.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      Doing a “complete” run-through of Mass Effect is worth doing at least once. You’ll find a lot of extra flavour in Mass Effect 2 & 3 that the motion comic doesn’t address: A few extra sidequests, and lots of callbacks over news reports.

      • Thats_A_Paddlin

         Tempting, but Mr. Paddlin might start to worry about my mental health.  I pretty much played 1 nonstop and just beat it last night and booted up Citadel right after. 

  • Boko_Fittleworth

    One of the things I found quite moving about Citadel is the message that Shepard and her accomplishments are defined so much by the company she keeps. Thus, this DLC, which is essentially a big party sim, really feels like the inverse of the original ME3 ending, which

    [SPOILERS, PRETTY OBVIOUSLY]

    leaves Shepard to face her death isolated from her friends and alone, except in the sense that they have helped her become who she is and so are in some abstract way a part of her.

  • http://twitter.com/Wardatrigger Warda

    I didn’t think the three original (literal) endings were all that bad, they seemed to be taken from other somewhat decent science fiction stories.

    Synthesis felt like Reid Malenfant’s fate in Manifold Space, the destroy option like Pham Nuwen’s fate in A Fire Upon the Deep.

  • PatrinaKirksey

    The Game is so interesting and fun for play the Game Mass Effect 3.

    http://lysocleansedenmark.com/

  • MellisaKreisel

    The Game is so superb and Mind Blowing for Play.

    http://vitacleansebelgium.com/