PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE CITADEL DLC.
DO NOT READ IT IF YOU ARE YET TO COMPLETE IT (come back when you’re done!)
I DO NOT WANT TO SPOIL THE EXPERIENCE FOR YOU. Thank-you!
So, what was I expecting from Citadel? Everything. I expected to cry. I expected to laugh. I expected to become immersed, once again, in the amazing world of Mass Effect and the incredible life of (my) Commander Shepard. I expected to be happy to see my crew again. I expected to be overwhelmingly sad that this is it…the last chapter of one of the most emotionally involving stories a video game has ever offered. And I wasn’t disappointed. I was elated…heartbroken…contented. Citadel was…too good to try to explain. For some, maybe the mission was short and clunky but I loved it; maybe the encounters with the crew were cheesy and a blatant fan appeasing service, but not for me. If you are a fan, a true fan, then you will surely be with me…Citadel was the big fat juicy cherry on the top of the most tastiest cake in the galaxy.
Set during some well earned ‘Shore leave’ ordered by Admiral Hackett, Citadel is an action and stealth based mission, which in no way affects or involves the main plot of the game. And frankly, that’s a good thing and most definitely intentional on the creators part (it can be played at any point in-game after Cerberus attempt their coup on the Citadel and before the mission to the Chronos Station). It’s more of a stand alone episode in the Shepard saga with focus on her and her crew rather than the war.
The beginning sees a ‘Personal apartment’ bequeathed onto Shepard by Admiral Anderson. It’s huge, stylish and it comes complete with an indoor waterfall and grand piano. Nice. Dotted around the apartment are Data Pads each containing ‘Notes for Anderson Biography…’ They are voice memos recorded by Anderson on different topics. The first one I listened to was about the Normandy. Unsurprisingly it got me all emotional as I recalled the first time I saw the Normandy passing through a beautifully alien Mass Relay at the start of Mass Effect 1… Only 10 minutes in and I’m on the verge of tears already! The memo on ‘N7’ made me laugh. In a anecdote about his early days in service, Anderson recalls how he had to be rescued by a Salarian! Oh the shame! Ha-ha!
But it was his feelings on Shepard really made me well up…yes, I may have shed a tear…
Sorry, I just started welling up again… It says everything it should, he completely sums her up for me. I love Shepard, the gaming world loves Shepard. This was just…lovely.
The mercs that come after Shepard are just that…mercs. They’re bad guys that want Shepard dead…it’s their boss that’s interesting…A clone of Shepard. Really?! A clone?! Wow, I actually did not see that coming. I thought that the perp could be a woman from the dodgy comm. vid we saw at the casino…but even then it never occurred to me it would be me; a Shepard clone?! Yeah, that totally surprised me. And angered me (she was not marching into MY life, stealing MY crew and MY ship. Hells no!). The mission plot takes Shepard and Co to a high class charity event; through the Spectre archives and on a heated rescue run when the Normandy is ship-napped. It was enjoyable to play, had immensely amusing dialogue and was different from shooting Reapers and Cerberus troops.
In my opinion the mission was really a means to an end…that end being the return of Shepard’s companions. Citadel really puts the focus on Shepard and her team; on the camaraderie between them and the loyalty and love the crew have for their Commander. During the mission, Shepard is joined, one-by-one, by her faithful crew members and they band together to defend her. From all corners of the galaxy they arrive to rally around her; to remind her that she’s important to them; to reassure her when it looks like she could lose everything.
There is a beautiful moment in the Spectre archives that really stuck in my mind. Shepard charges into a gunfight to draw fire away from her crew while they escape up a ladder…under heavy fire it looked like it could get messy, but no. Her amazing crew line up above her and decimate the enemy while she climbs up to safety…I totally welled up at this…damn I love those people…*wipes a tear away*
The banter between the crew members is full of little in-jokes that had me laughing out loud…and crying on the inside. Little quips about the Hammerhead vs. the MAKO; Wrex and Liara in a constant body count battle; James with his gun-ho attitude and Javik dissing everything in sight…just classic. Every little oddity that made these people and this game exceptional was brought out in the dialogue. The writers must have had a field day writing for this, all the fun and quirky traits were drawn out and had a spotlight shone on them. Honestly I’ve never laughed so much at a game, it was joyful. Even the bad guys were amusing! If you listen to them they say some quality lines about the Commander and her legendary crew…a couple of my favorites…“I think that Turian they have with them is Archangel! How are we supposed to kill him?!”…“But they’ve got a Krogan! Why don‘t we have a Krogan?!”…“They‘re everywhere! I‘m beginning to think we chose the wrong Shepard!”
But honestly, the mission was never the big draw of this DLC for me. I mean, I was always going to buy it as I’m a Mass Effect freak, but the mission was not the main appeal of Citadel. For me it was all about Shepard and her crew. Really, I should say ME and MY crew… I was looking forward for a chance to spend time with them; a chance to enjoy a little calm before the storm…a chance to get closure and say goodbye away from the front line. And finally, after the Clone issue is resolved, it’s time for some ‘Shore leave’…and each crew member requests some alone time with Shepard. This is what I wanted. An opportunity to spend time with my homies and chill; no fighting; no enemies just us. I got to play kids arcade games with the big tough Zaeed Massani and film a (really bad) movie with Javik. And every second was precious to me. I’ve spent hundreds of hours with these guys and gals but I always wanted more. Citadel gave me more. A girly night at the casino getting drunk with Miri? Yes please! Watching the Biotiball game with my armory boys? Hells yes. I enjoyed it all so much! I tried really hard not to become emotional but I failed. These characters are so individual and detailed, and I’ve fallen for every one of them in some way… These little outings with them really hammered home how much I love them and how much I will miss them.
But wait! It’s not over yet! After all the lunch dates and games Shepard can handle it’s party time! Because what else do you do in a new pad in the middle of a war? Throw a party! It was excellent…all of my crew, past and present were there (minus my three fallen comrades…Ashley, Thane and Mordin…) interacting together. Being the perfect host involved a lot of mingling and mingle I did. Not wanting to miss any of what anyone had to say, I spent a good hour and a half talking to everyone and eavesdropping on their conversations. I chose to throw a proper party and watching them all get progressively drunk was hilarious! Finding Wrex in the shower cracked me up, “I’m sad Hanar can‘t wear sweaters”; everyone dissing on my dancing was cringe worthy yet funny, “we should record this and broadcast it for the Reapers. They’ll either run away, melt down or fall in love”; Jack and Miri digging at each other was cute and Kaidan’s ass was hypnotic…*drool*. It was refreshing and entertaining and the best send-off I could have given my crew…the best send-off they could have given me…
Then comes the Kodak moment at the end…and snap! There goes my last tenuous grip on my tears. It really broke me…all my friends, all together…for one night only… “Everybody say Normandy“ (I just gotta get a tissue).
After the party I didn’t know what to expect. Would we all just be back to normal and headed to the Normandy? Nope, Bioware got this right too…the aftermath. James making eggs; Miri enjoying Tea; Tali feeling the pain “I. Am going. To die“ …all excellent little additions. All tailored to cement the feeling that it was an incredible and exceptional experience…one that will be remembered for eternity.
If any of you have read any of my previous pieces on Mass Effect you’ll know how much I love a certain Major Alenko. Kaidan…MY Kaidan. I can’t deny that what I REALLY wanted from this DLC was some quality time with my squeeze…a glimpse of normality; a moment together as boyfriend and girlfriend. I realize I’m a sad sap of a fan-girl, but screw you! I love that man and I’ll take every last little moment I can get with him. And boy, did Bioware give me some good moments with him.
From beginning to end he was by my side and all the way through he was my boyfriend…not my crew mate; not Major Alenko…just my boyfriend. And that, boys and girls, pleased me no end. He didn’t once stand on ceremony or mention ‘regs’, he was a man in love it and was perfect. Hearing him on my comm. link after I get the shit shot out of me in the Sushi restaurant was lovely;”It‘s good to hear your voice. Joker told me what happened, I‘m on foot…but not far” he was coming to rescue me…my Knight in Alliance armor!
Back safe and sound in my apartment and he’s the first I check in with… “Nice to see you in action on the car lot, it was…pretty hot“, “why, thank you“, “What would I do without you?“. He sniggers, ”you’ll never find out”…. *melts on the floor* Maker, I love that guy. Oh, and how hot did he look at the Charity shindig?! As soon as the words ‘Black tie’ came out of Liara’s mouth I was like, ‘Kaidan, you’re coming with me!’. Hubba. That is all. Just…*sigh*
I kept him on my point team throughout the mission because, well, he’s always on my team. But also…I didn’t want him getting caught by my evil clone…I didn’t want him getting seduced by her and then thinking I was the ‘fake Shepard’…I know, ridiculous, but that’s what went through my mind…
After my evil clone problem vanished out the back of the Normandy I jumped at my chance for some alone time with him… and what a sweet evening it was. Full of food, innuendo and longing gazes over burning garlic…perfect.
His attentiveness at the party didn’t go missed either. His tipsy offering to help with hosting was sweet “Hey need me to do anything? Food run, change the music, check on ice?”, but his retort made me smile more… “OK, you’re the boss. Except when you’re not. And in that case…find me later”, yeah, OK! Oh, and the whole ‘gazing lovingly into each others eyes’ in the crew photo….TOO CUTE!
Waking up the morning after with him snuggled up next to me was yet another perfect touch. A last moment together before facing the crew and the hangovers… “urgh, what a night…But look who’s here”…Kaidan’s here…“Good morning. Is it morning?”, “It is. Be so nice to lie here all day with you”…
Bioware spoiled me with the romance in this DLC. It was everything I wanted and everything I didn’t know I wanted. Kaidan is one of those characters that I will never forget and never stop loving. I will play Mass Effect again and again…and as long as I’m FemShep I’ll always save Kaidan; I’ll always romance Kaidan and I’ll never regret it. Bioware have just made that completely impossible.
Citadel was a roller-coaster of emotions for me. It gave me the highest of highs, with the quality time spent with my Mass Effect family….then the lowest of lows, the morning after the night before…back to work…and the saddest moment of all… Shepard stood alone, gazing out at the beautiful Normandy sat in dry dock… I’ve got tears in my eyes now and I’m only remembering it…I was bawling in-game. I knew what would be going through her mind…everything that was going through mine…The first time I saw the Normandy; the first time I saw the Citadel; the beauty of the Mass Relays; the incredible alien environments; the MAKO; each of my crew members faces; each of my lost crew members faces; Reapers… Then her crew join her…and Kaidan’s there to reassure her once more… “Ah, Shepard, you will find a way to win. I know it. And when you do, I’ll be waiting. Yeah, the greatest challenge of my life, and the greatest reward. It’s been a good ride”…
Everything that makes Mass Effect what it is, was brought into this DLC at some point, somewhere. The lore of the Galaxy was shown in the archives; the camaraderie between the crew was evident throughout; the individuality if the crew was written fantastically into all the collective in-jokes; the romance was highlighted beautifully… Everything about Citadel was geared to reinforce the love that we all feel for this series and for these characters. It was full of little touches that made the ‘whole’ so much better. It was a thank-you to the fans, a nod to the loyalty and love that has been bestowed on this game. For me, it was always more than a game, it was a journey. An epic journey with people I love; people I will never forget; people I will miss.
If you’re like me, by that I mean a little obsessed with ME, then you would never have wanted the series to end and maybe you got a little mad at how it ended. But push that aside and remember Citadel. Remember that we were given the opportunity to spend some unforgettable moments saying a very lengthy and emotional goodbye to the people and the series that we love. Bioware have given us the greatest gift with Citadel…the goodbye and closure that the series deserves. But I will keep saying goodbye to the series…as I’m always going to go back and play it all again. I can’t help it. I’m addicted. Thank-you Bioware…thank-you for every tear, every laugh, every minute. Thank you.