Mass Effect 3: Citadel and saying goodbye to Shepard & crew
And that was it. After five years, my journey with Naomi Shepard has ended. Technically, it ended last year. But this was it for absolute certain. No more would my Bisexual (who turned full-blown lesbian for Mass Effect 3) Commander hawk eyes and make sexytime with whoever she could get her hands on. No more would she and Garrus or Liara get to hang out at every possible opportunity. And no more drinking old whiskey with Dr Chakwas on the medical wing.
I went into Citadel expecting this to be a sentimentality ride for the series. Funny thing is I nearly didn't buy it because of how poor Omega was. But I'm glad I did. It goes on the sentimentalism very hard by focusing on the one thing the series has always been good at: the characters. More specifically, Shepard's crew, who are more than willing to put their lives in her hands. It's already evident when Joker invites you to a sushi place on the Citadel to hang out and eat (before you find there's someone out for you - more than one twist in that, by the way - and tries to kill you).
There's also the rarity that all of your crew will be fighting with you at one time or another during the middle of the main bit of the DLC, eptimised by a scene later in the DLC that shows the unity of the team. I won't detail it, but you'll know it if you've played it already.
In fact, because it can get so self-aware at times, you can't help but laugh at pretty much at a majority of Citadel. There's your party trying to top each other with funny quotes on how it's going to kill the enemy (even Glyph, who accompanies you, joins in, though asks for its peaceful surrender). There's Shepard finally aware of the infamous 'I should go' line to itself that's happening whilst in a serious, life-threatening crisis. One other bit that makes this point was this video from both Wrex and Grunt that I became aware of after my Citadel playthrough via Alex and the way the Krogan pronounce 'Shepard'.
This is one of the beauties about Citadel. It's going out not necessarily with all guns blazing as such compared to ME3's actual ending or Omega, but rather to entertain the player. And it has, but probably not in the way I expected. It basically cut loose from a kind of 'taking it serious' attitude that most games, Mass Effect as a whole included, has become known for. In fact, I can probably picture during a late night at the office Casey Hudson, Mac Walters and the rest of the team involved saying over a few beers to each other, 'you know what, fuck it, let's just make it as big of a fan service as possible'
And it did. I mean, sure, the main story bit is all well good, but the big fan service comes towards the end and where the funny ramps up, involving a set of characters that you've known as little as a year to as long as five years. From those scenes with Traynor and Javik before the big party to trying to set up Garrus on a date with a female turian, it's these scenes that make you realise that Mass Effect's strongest avenue is the party you brought along with you through Mass Effect 1 and 2. The characters that survived Saren/Sovereign and the Collectors.
And unfortunately, during the party, you also think of those that you've lost along the way. Or at least, I did anyways. I lost a good chunk of my team after Mass Effect 2 because I didn't prepare the Normandy enough for the Collector's fight. I think of those people I've lost, ponder what could have been and to have seen them in a hungover state following the party. And it's that party that shows the main Normandy crew as one big family.
And if anything proved that point home, it's Citadel's last scene with Shepard overlooking the Normandy and its crew standing behind her, also looking towards the ship that has taken us and them across the universe and beyond the stars for the past five years. It felt emotional after half a decade of traversing space in exploration and thensome. Who knows what tales the franchise will give us now in the hands of BioWare Montreal now that Casey Hudson's team work on pre-production on its next big thing at BioWare Edmonton.
But Shepard's journey is over. And I couldn't be more happier its come to such a fantastic (and funny) conclusion. It's one that's fitting of not just the trilogy or the series to date, but the franchise as a whole.
If the mess regarding the full ending last year had soured your experience in any way - and I'll admit, I was one of those who wasn't a fan of it (though Extended Cut did make me sympaphise with it a little bit) - Citadel will go a long way in making up for it.
Last year, we didn't get the ending we wanted. This year, we got the ending we - and the trilogy - deserved.
Mass Effect 3: Arrival is out now for 1200 MS points on Xbox Live Marketplace and £11.99/€14.99/$14.99 for PlayStation Network and PC. It won't be releasing on Wii U.