Drive-By Reflection on Mass Effect 3’s The Citadel

My resolution to play female-fronted games for Women’s History Month has somehow become PLAY ALL THE MASS EFFECT, thanks in no small part to ME3’s final DLC, “The Citadel.”

In my playthrough (with FemShep!), Wrex dismissed the DLC’s driving conflict as something that “makes sense if you think about it.” Of course, it doesn’t actually make sense–at least not in the game that singled out Sir Isaac Newton as the “deadliest son of a bitch in space.” It does, however, make sense in the game in which all of the galaxy’s problems can be solved by walking towards different colored lights. It felt like a concession, “yeah, we know this is ridiculous, but it’s fun, so just go with it, ok?” And I did go with it. As I said on twitter, it’s a different side of the same coin that gave us the Catalyst. It doesn’t make sense, and the change in tone is jarring, but this time the reward–the emotional payoff–far outweighs the risks taken by muddling the game’s narrative integrity. This time, it felt like players were in on the joke, as seemingly throwaway lines from the game proper came back and paid off in surprisingly funny ways. In the end, “The Citadel” is every bit a love letter to both the fans and the games that brought them together. While it doesn’t fix the final game’s problematic ending, it celebrates what the game did right, and it extends an olive branch to those who felt betrayed by the way Bioware left its saga.

Mass Effect 3 - The Citadel
Eleanor Shepard and her crew.
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