DLC Title: Citadel (Parts 1 & 2)
Cost: 1200 Microsoft Credits
Length: approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes
-hilarious banter and one liners
-terrific boss encounter
-many great twists and turns
-the return of all fabulous Mass Effect characters
-Wrex is back! YAY!
-stealth scenarios give you the heeby jeeby’s
-little health and ammunition during fight scenes
Rating: (out of ten) 9
Blogger’s Note – Over the course of this review, I will often refer to Commander Shepard as a ‘she’ because I more often than not play through the Mass Effect campaigns as a female protagonist.
What are the best Mass Effect DLC’s you can think of off the top of your head? Lair of the Shadow Broker? Stolen Memory? Well, almost certainly, Citadel will soon join those ranks as well.
If Citadel is anything, it is a reminder to all the fans of the franchise of what made Mass Effect so amazing. Perfectly orchestrated and well designed, Citadel is a story of team work and love, but most importantly, it is about the strength of friendship, and what separates Shepard from the many opponents that she faces.
‘Few people know what Shepard’s been through – I’d like to think I’ve come pretty close’
-Admiral David Anderson
Mass Effect often focuses on the battles that Shepard and her team members are forced to face and the strength of the loyalty that combines them and makes their team so efficient. Often this is shown through some rather morose and dire scenes of battle, so it is a welcome relief to see the honorable members of the crew being who they are in a more playful, enjoyable environment.
Citadel begins with a message from Admiral Hackett to your e-mail, requesting you to bring the Normandy into port on the Citadel so the old girl can be looked after by some mechanics as to ensure she is operating at proficient levels. The second and more prominent reason for this invitation though is for some active shore leave, so that all the crew can officially recharge their batteries before the final showdown.
Upon arrival, Anderson welcomes Shepard to his humble abode on the giant space station via extranet link, notifying her that his place is now hers for the taking. Immediately you have the option to explore your new residence, and can delve into the history that is Anderson’s past by listening to the many recordings scattered around his now former residence.
You could very easy look over the three bedrooms, many bathrooms and other amazing features that the apartment comes equipped with over and over again, but eventually you will need to reply to your new message from Joker, who invites Shepard down to a revered Sushi restaurant to discuss some important news with her.
Making your way through some of the Citadel’s more attractive locations is incredibly fun, with the graphically stunning environments, realistic sounds and fun conversations to listen in on easily bringing this beautiful location to life.
‘Only had to save the universe twice to get a table’ announces Joker upon your arrival to such a luxurious restaurant. This line however is only one of several that are quite humorous, for unlike much of the Mass Effect titles, the writers of Citadel were apparently not without a sense of humour. ‘What do we know about these mercs?’ asks Liara over the comm. when the shit hits the fan, and Shepard’s reply is ‘they have guns and they don’t like me’, and after incidentally setting off a security system, Garus questions ‘was that an alarm?’, to which Shepard replies ‘thought I’d make things a little more interesting’, and again when antagonising the leader of the mercenary band, Shepard threatens ‘the last guy who trash talked me was a few kilometers taller than you.’
After Joker’s one liner, it is then that he asks ‘what did you want to talk to me about?’ Apparently, he was NOT the one who sent you the e-mail, and one it seems was sent from you to him. Someone has hacked your account, and has forced you to this location for a reason, which Mira Brooks, an Alliance employee who spends her days sitting behind a desk quickly rushes over to tell you.
Mira Brooks is not the stereotypical heroine, and so it is quite humorous to watch someone who obviously does not belong in an action oriented environment attempt to not only fraternise with arse kicking legends, but attempt to navigate through such hostile environments. She is an incredibly awkward young woman, and often says something totally un-heroic, the likes of ‘might throw up a little bit now if that’s okay with everyone?’
Long story short, Brooks rushes over to explain ‘someone is trying to kill you’, and funnily enough, this time it ain’t Cerberus, nor is it the Reapers. This is a brand new enemy who has an unbelievably large, and well armed mercenary band who are well prepared to inflict maximum casualties to ensure the successful promulgation of their endeavors.
As soon as Brooks enters the Sushi restaurant however, everything goes horribly wrong when that same enemy mentioned in the above paragraph? Well, they happen to stroll in as well, and after shooting up the place, Shepard finds herself blasting out through the glass floor, through an aquarium filled with fish and onto a docking level below.
The graphics during this scene, with the pieces of broken glass and the droplets of water coating the commander’s hair is terrifically effective, and immediately helps to pave the way for the other scenes that will, as always, capture your attention with the vivid imagery.
‘That pain you feel – that’s me kicking your ass!’
It is now that the fighting officially begins, however, the initial battle sequences are not quite as enjoyable as what players would have participated in during previous downloadable games. Armed with only a silenced pistol (which is considerably effective actually), no health packs and very little ammunition, you are forced to covertly make your way through a docking structure teeming with opponents in the hopes of eventually locating your team members who are contacting you over the comms and notifying you of their willingness to help eradicate the new found threat.
These few areas where stealth is a necessary component to the fighting (else you will alert a mass of bad guys to your location (they don’t call it MASS Effect for nothing!)) are very much unlike what you would have previously experienced in other Mass Effect missions, where they are predominantly action oriented. In my opinion, the stealth sequences temporarily reduce the sheer amount of fun that the player could have enjoyed from the mission, and is a very peculiar addition to the storyline. It would be like going to a strip club, only to watch the women put their clothes on – very peculiar indeed.
Eventually though you are lucky enough to meet up with the stunningly gorgeous Liara and the always entertaining Wrex (who is bored of general Council business for which he was brought onto the station to consult upon), whose opening scene is so mesmerizing you will want to play the mission all over again just to witness this moment once more!
From now on the experience is more often than not filled with explosions, gun battles and tactical supremacy, and in-between the action you find yourself talking with your team at your apartment in regards to what must be done next.
One great aspect of this particular mission is the challenging opponents. Much like in Omega, which introduced a number of powerful new villains, Citadel packs a whopping punch with the artillery that they dare to throw at you. Known only as CAT 6, who are former members of the Alliance militarian division who have been dishonorably discharged for one reason or another, each member of the team is well protected by shields. The Heavy is especially well armored with a shield that makes that which some of the Cerberus units carry around with them appear like nothing more than flimsy pieces of tissue paper. These particular shields are immune even to Disrupter ammo, and so attempting to take these guys out becomes quite a hefty challenge, especially when they come at you in packs.
If that is not enough, these guys don’t just throw grenades when from afar – no, they throw several at once, which makes avoiding them all the more difficult for they are able to spread their explosive ordinance out.
On top of this, another new opponent is the Disruption Drone, which is a little holographic guy who flies around anonymously, before chasing after you, its goal being to get close enough before it discharges a massive EMP bomb which neutralises your shields.
Moreover, unlike the other missions that you have previously experienced, in this particular DLC, everyone is involved, and by everyone, I mean EVERYONE! True, you still run about with two team members to carry you all the way through the mission, however, the rest of your team split up into two – Hammerhead and Mako, and make their way through the facility along with you, providing advantageous fire support.
‘That’s why I love hanging out with you guys. Why shoot something once, when you can shoot it forty six more times?’
After the mission is complete, and the final boss, who is an unfathomably challenging and very entertaining opponent has been eliminated (and you will never guess where this final, breathtaking scene takes place!), the DLC is not yet over, for celebrations are to be enjoyed. Joker has already begun sending out invitations to members of the crew, and you are able to continue doing this – you can invite some, or, like me, invite every single team member who is able to attend.
With shore leave having been interrupted, now is the time for you and your team to officially have some time off from the strenuous fighting that continuously occurs. Before the party happens, you are able to run around the Silver Sun Strip, which is a beautifully elegant and fun loving location on the Citadel. You can play games at the arcade, gamble at the casino and fight in the areans at the Armax Arcade, and can even do so alongside fellow team members who later become unlocked as you continue through the scenarios that may remind notorious gamers of the Firefight mode in the Halo games.
Additionally, you will receive messages from the crew, each of whom wishes to spend some time with you. These segments are unfathomably pleasurable, and include meeting Blasto the Jellyfish whilst on the set for the eighth feature film in the franchise with a morose Javik; helping Garus flirt with a foxy Turain woman at the local bar; meeting Jack’s new pet; and hearing about the adventures that Grunt and his Krogan pals have been up to on the Citadel – all of which has left C-Sec in a very bad mood.
All of this is both hilariously funny and very moving as you experience time off with each of your friends on board the Normandy, before proceeding to buy the necessities for your soiree. Again, this is especially entertaining, for during the event you are able to move from one group to another as they discuss what has happened and their general thoughts, opinions and feelings. The conversations are very fun to take part in, and so too are much of the other occurrences that later transpire, with the adorably cute kleptomaniac Kasumi appearing every so often to either say or do something incredibly fun to watch. Furthermore, you are able to consult Glyph, the resident host, and either tone down the festivities, or, if you are anything like me, tone them up, until many of your crew become highly intoxicated on booze and begin to go about doing some pretty outlandishly hilarious things. Moreover, with two Krogan running about your apartment, you have to wonder if your residence will even be in one piece after the night’s festivities have ended.
However, much like the franchise itself, the fun eventually comes to an end, even if you do not wish it to. Whatever the case, it has been a fabulous 7 years of Mass Effect, and if this particular DLC does anything, it proves that there is still a lot of life left in the series, and although it is doubtful we will ever see these amazing characters again in future Mass Effect games, Citadel allows us to say goodbye to some of the most memorable characters ever conceived in video game history.
A terrific end to a terrific franchise? Certainly, that is what Citadel is, and on that note, I officially change my ‘9’ in my overall rating of the DLC, to a ‘10’, for Citadel is much like the entirety of the Mass Effect series; undoubtedly fabulous.