Say Goodbye to the crew of the Normandy SR-2 in the final Mass Effect 3 DLC – Citadel!

 

DLC Title: Citadel (Parts 1 & 2)
Developer: Bioware
Cost: 1200 Microsoft Credits
Size: 4GB
Length: approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes

Pros:
-incredibly entertaining
-hilarious banter and one liners
-terrific boss encounter
-challenging opponents
-many great twists and turns
-the return of all fabulous Mass Effect characters
-Wrex is back! YAY!

Cons:
-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.

gorgeously atmospheric

gorgeously atmospheric

 

in-door gardens, fire-places, water features and plenty of places to explore make Shepard's new residence one helluva place to visit!

in-door gardens, fire-places, water features and plenty of places to explore make Shepard’s new residence one helluva place to visit!

 

...and yes, I play as Fem Shepard...

…and yes, I play as Fem Shepard…

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.

As soon as you arrive at the Silver Sun Strip, you'll never want to leave

As soon as you arrive at the Silver Sun Strip, you’ll never want to leave

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.

'the best restaurant on the Citadel' is what they call this place - and everybody blames you when it gets attacked

‘the best restaurant on the Citadel’ is what they call this place – and everybody blames you when it gets attacked

‘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?’

Brrooks contemplates on whether everyone's opinion of her will suddenly drop if she runs for her life

Brooks contemplates on whether everyone’s opinion of her will suddenly drop if she runs for her life

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!’
-Commander Shepard

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!

Liara proves how effective her communication skills are - and later, Wrex gives you a weapon that you will never want to part with!

Liara proves how effective her communication skills are – and later, Wrex gives you a weapon that you will never want to part with!

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.

Shepard and her partner in crime Garus at the 'cool secret hideout' discuss how they hope 'the bad guys don't look through a window' and discover them.

Shepard and her partner in crime Garus at the ‘cool secret hideout’ discuss how they hope ‘the bad guys don’t look through a window’ and discover them.

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.

new and old friends unite to bring an alternate flavor to the fight!

new and old friends unite to bring an alternate flavor to the fight!

 

Forget about following the yellow brick road - follow the little blue cord. During the second stage of the mission, you crash a party in order to discover who your opponent is. To do this, you must covertly infiltrate through the massive building whilst avoiding the many security parameters. Fun times!

Forget about following the yellow brick road – follow the little blue cord. During the second stage of the mission, you crash a party in order to discover who your opponent is. To do this, you must covertly infiltrate through a massive building whilst avoiding the many security parameters. Fun times!

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?’
-Urdnot Wrex

whilst fighting through the Citadel, you can discover video logs on the history of the universe and battles long forgotten...

whilst fighting through the Citadel, you can discover video logs on the history of the universe and battles long forgotten…

 

...and learn about more coverups at the hands of the Council in regards to the Reapers

…and learn about more coverups at the hands of the Council in regards to the Reapers

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.

In the Armax arenas you can choose what opponents you fight against, the enemy classes that will spawn in the map, the possible bonus points, and much more!

In the Armax arenas you can choose what opponents you fight against, the enemy classes that will spawn in the map, the possible bonus points, and much more!

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.

Rarely does Miranda venture out in Mass Effect 3. But she finds the time during the mission to tell you how disappointed she is that you destroyed her favorite Sushi restaurant.

Rarely does Miranda venture out in Mass Effect 3. But she finds the time during the mission to tell you how disappointed she is that you destroyed her favorite Sushi restaurant.

 

Garus discovers he ain't quite the ladies man he once thought he was

Garus discovers he ain’t quite the ladies man he once thought he was

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.

The party has only just started. But, just you wait. In a few scenes time, many will have armed themselves with guns in a drunken stupor to see who is superior, biotics will be levitating their friends, and EDI will question what Operative Traynor meant when she said she found her voice so attractive and wanted to, what? She wanted to do what to her? Wow! Hot Stuff!

The party has only just started. But, just you wait. In a few scenes time, many will have armed themselves with guns in a drunken stupor to see who is superior, biotics will be levitating their friends, and EDI will question what Operative Traynor meant when she said she found her voice so attractive and wanted to, what? She wanted to do what to her? Wow! Hot Stuff!

 

Don't look now, but everyone is about to side with Estevez...and ask Joker to participate in a shooting competition - whilst drunk out of his mind!

Don’t look now, but everyone is about to side with Estevez…and ask Joker to participate in a shooting competition!

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.

Shepard and Aria team up to slap Omega out from the Illusive Man’s greedy little hands: Analysing the Mass Effect 3 DLC “Omega”

Team up with Aria and Nyreen to take back Omega

Size: 1.99 Gigabytes

Price: 1,200 Microsoft Points

It was not long into the Mass Effect 3 campaign that Aria, the so called ‘Pirate Queen’ of the ominous Terminus station Omega sent a message to Shepard’s private terminal, requesting the player to meet her in Purgatory on the Citadel and to not keep her waiting. After running around the centre of Galactic government, Shepard successfully unified the three primary mercenary bands in the universe under her command, whilst at the same time she specified why she was on the Citadel; how the Illusive Man, the ring leader of the circus that is Cerberus, a pro-human splinter group comprised of terrorists and other antagonists, was now ‘at the top of her shit list’, and was thus going to pay ‘for every minute (she had) spent in this bureaucratic hell hole’ for stealing Omega away from her.

After helping Aria twice during the second game, once, by unveiling to her how the Blue Suns, the Eclipse and the Blood Pack were planning to unanimously destroy her after the death of Archangel; and again by helping to save her former adviser, Patriarch, it was rather obvious that once more Shepard would be required to perform another duty for the powerful Assari this time around.

The campaign, which consists of four levels of game play with additional cinematics, begins with an e-mail from the illustrious Aria, asking Sheppard to return to the Citadel and meet her in Dock 42 so they might discuss her ‘pet project’. After several weeks of preparing the counter offensive assault to take Omega back from Cerberus, Aria is officially ready to take back her station, and although Aria relinquishes control and allows herself to be bossed around by Shepard during the game play, she still does have a few addendums; the least of which being that none of your crew are to accompany you during the game.

Having little trust with regards to your affiliates, you will instead find yourself braving the fight against Cerberus with a team consisting of none other than Aria herself, and a Turian Huntress named Nyreen, who is additionally the leader of a rebellious group on Omega titled the ‘Talons’, who have being attempting to fight Cerberus for the right to control the station.

Primarily the game will be played with Aria, who you are able to personally level up in the Squad menu, with new abilities the likes of Lash, Flare and Biotic Protector being readily available for use. To say that Aria’s powers are extraordinary would be a terrific understatement, with whole garrisons of enemy troops often being literally wiped out by but a blast of her biotic capabilities.

Nyreen on the other hand randomly assists you as often as she goes off on her own, and so half the campaign will be spent without her personal assistance as she wages the battle in other areas across the station.

Over the course of the game you are able to find out about the background of both unique squad members and their in-depth history together, however, if you are interested in discovering bucket loads of information on Aria you are going to be terribly disappointed, the information being slim at best.

Additionally, over the course of the campaign, Aria will come off as a cold, manipulative and unemotional monster who is willing to sacrifice innocent lives for the sake of her vengeful mission against the Cerberus forces. Nyreen on the other hand is the polar opposite, and instead worries frantically about the lives of civilians, and during conversations when you are forced to make paragon and renegade choices, will be the voice of reason, whilst Aria maintains her freezing cold demeanor and criticises many of your paragon choices.

However, if you successfully keep up a paragon reputation throughout the campaign, you may be able to slightly tweak Aria’s lack of consciousness so that she becomes a little more, well, civilised, but again, this comers at the price of her criticism.

Moreover, unlike the Extended Cut, this particular DLC is not an emotionally powerful experience, so players will only have to bring themselves to the fight, rather than additionally bringing a box of tissues (or in my case ten). In fact, emotions of any kind (with the exception of hate and loathing) are not focused upon in the slightest. The entire campaign is basically a grudge match between Aria and the Cerberus forces. Even on the occasions when saddening occurrences transpire, the amount of in-depth concentration which is applied is barely significant, and even though during the rest of the game these emotional scenarios were focused upon quite strongly, these instances are severely overlooked during this DLC package.

Moving on, your primary enemy throughout the campaign comes in the form of General Oleg Protrovski, who unlike other Cerberus Commanders does have a seemingly militarised code of honor, although, at the same time he is still very willing to make horrific sacrifices to achieve victory, and thus the goal of the campaign is to seize control of the station from him.

The Illusive Man rather unfortunately does not make an appearance of any kind, and some may feel the levels are incomplete without his unfathomably egotistical personality and antagonistic wit.

Every Cerberus opponent you have faced before, from the basic foot soldier to the dangerous Nemesis; from the agile Phantom to the incredibly powerful Atlas will make a number of appearances though throughout your efforts to retake Omega. At times, the number of enemies who stand against you are considerable, and potentially outnumber the strength of the army protecting the Illusive Man’s base which you assault at the game’s conclusion. The number of Atlas’s you will face is greater than that of any other fight and dwarves previous encounters.

Although the campaign, yes, can be challenging, this is also contradicted by the notion that you will frequently find yourself drowning in medical packs, and so you will rarely find yourself without a full collection of medi-gel in your power wheel (on a side note, the amount of medi-gel is almost drowned out by the sheer number of credits that number in the tens of thousands which can be found over the course of the campaign). Additionally, your team is incredibly competent to the extent that during my play through, not one of them fell at the hands of the Cerberus soldiers.

On another note, a new addition to the Cerberus army, the Rampant Mechs, are very fun to go up against, and are more capable than the basic mech artillery you were forced to frequently endure during the second game. These Mechs are well armored and carry powerful shotguns that do considerably damage at close range, and if that is not enough, they come equipped with powerful Omni-tool based weaponry which can shred your shields if they come within an inch of your body. Even in death these Mechs are a nuisance, and it is frequently best to keep a good distance between both your character and them whether they are running around on both legs or have them pointing up in the air.

Another opponent that makes a debut in the campaign is the Reaper creature known only as the ‘Adjutant’. These (often) failed Cerberus experiments look a lot like a cross between both the Cannibal and the Brute, and can literally tear into you with their sharp claws and leap considerable distances to close in on your location. From afar they are able to shoot moderately potent biotic powers from their right arms which can temporarily disarm you, their attacks continuing to affect you for  a few seconds after you have being hit (much like the biotic attacks by the Banshees). However, these creatures only make a couple of appearances, and it is disappointing that they appear infrequently throughout the campaign due to the challenging nature of such an opponent who deserved a much larger role.

The Omega DLC will provide you with somewhere between three and five hours worth of additional game play, and by the end your character will be granted some powerful war assets that could potentially tip the scales in your battle against the Reaper menace.

If there is one thing that the campaign does well it is build your interest and keep you entertained, and judging by the hype and excitement that has being attributed by the online media that is no surprise. However, this is also the campaign’s weakness.

Although you will recognise a couple of the surrounds that you fight through from your original trip to the station back in the second game, you will be barred from exploring most of it. On top of this, the amount of the station that you do fight through feels considerably small when in contrast with the sheer enormous scale and size of Omega. Due to this, you, the gamer, will often continuously ask for more; more action; more places to explore; more in-depth character driven narratives; more of the exciting Mass Effect experience; the issue is that the Omega DLC whets your appetite, and nothing else. By the campaign’s conclusion you will be left with an insatiable hunger for more, and thus will be unable to satisfy your appetite.

Omega is an entertaining addition to the Mass Effect universe in its own right, with a couple side missions to complete for some of the folks in Omega, and additional objectives which include fighting through a mine dripping with Ezo deposits (which may remind gamers of Dead Space 2 and Doom 3), destroying shields and defenses, deactivating land mines and neutralising garrisons of Cerberus combatants.

However, when in comparison to Mass Effect 3 as a whole, the Leviathan DLC, or even the Extended Cut, you will find your lust for the Mass Effect universe remains, and your wish for an incredibly potent experience goes unfulfilled.

On a final note, since the Bioware team who developed the Mass Effect franchise are primarily beginning to focus on new ventures, and Bioware Monteal has now announced they will be working on the new Mass Effect game, fans of Mass Effect 3 may wish to smoke this DLC while they have it – for there may not be another DLC for this game again. Judging by the fact that in four months time the game will be celebrating its one year anniversary since its release, and DLC’s for previous titles were discontinued half way into the following year respectively, this assumption is made even more likely.

In Summary:

Good:
-New entertaining and powerful enemies
-Challenging atmosphere
-Never before seen environments
-Plenty of credits are left lying around
-Aria’s powers are beyond amazing
-Potential war assets can be acquired by campaign’s end

Bad:
-Entire campaign is an unemotional experience
-Relatively short
-The four levels can feel small in comparison with the significant size of the station
-Exploration of both the station and characters is limited
-Adjutant Reaper enemies deserve greater role
-Sheer amount of medi-gel dissolves many of the challenges
-You, the gamer, will be left wanting more

Image References:
-Mass Effect Wiki 2012, Mass Effect 3: Omega, viewed 26th November 2012
< http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Mass_Effect_3:_Omega>