|Gameplay from the final 'Mass Effect 3' add-on. (Handout)
It's been a long, strange, galaxy-spanning trip for Commander Shepard and the crew of the starship Normandy. And while fans of the Mass Effect series have probably already finished last year's Mass Effect 3 and brought BioWare's epic sci-fi trilogy to its thunderous conclusion, some might still be looking for a little more closure.
Or maybe just one more chance to say goodbye. Cue the throat lump.
Mass Effect 3: Citadel is the final add-on for Mass Effect 3, available as a $15 in-game download via Xbox Live, the PlayStation Store or EA Games' Origin.com. Like the other downloadable content for the single-player component of the game, it's a series of connected missions that players can undertake at any time during their Mass Effect 3 adventure.
Unlike the previous downloadable content, though, Citadel seems designed very much as a send-off for the Mass Effect crew, a final chapter that guns mainly for the heart, with some collateral damage to the funnybone.
As the name suggests, this add-on takes place entirely on board the Citadel, the mammoth and ancient space station that is Mass Effect's hub of galactic commerce and diplomacy. When the Normandy is called into drydock for repairs, Shepard and crew find themselves on an unexpected shore leave, with Shepard given a luxurious apartment to use as a base of operations.
But what begins as a bit of well-earned R&R soon turns into an almost Ocean's Eleven-style adventure, taking Shepard and the crew from a shootout in a flying car dealership to infiltrating a casino during a gala party to exploring the Citadel's archives, a museum-like repository of Mass Effect lore. It would be a criminal spoiler to reveal the identity of Shepard's ultimate enemy, but let's just say that he or she might be the only person in the galaxy who is a match for Shepard's intellect and skill.
Yet this twisty (if somewhat brief) adventure is only part of what Citadel offers. The rest focuses on the relationships players have built up between their own version of Commander Shepard and the Normandy's crew, some of whom have been around since the original Mass Effect in 2007.
In fact there are so many winks, nods and in-jokes in Citadel that the humour sometimes threatens to diminish the danger, or make us forget the overarching fact that while Shep and pals are hamming it up on shore leave, the galaxy remains on the brink of a devastating war.
Still, it's a very welcome chance to load up that late-game save file and dive back into Mass Effect 3 one more time, trying out new gear, reuniting with old friends and remembering why we've loved this series for the past six years.
After Citadel's main threat is dealt with, Shepard is charged with hosting an epic party that gives each member of the crew a chance to shine and/or embarrass themselves. When they finally do head back to the Normandy the next morning, hungover and happy but knowing this could be their final time of carefree camaraderie, it really does feel like saying goodbye all over again.
I'm not entirely sure what happens after that. I think there was something in my eye.
Mass Effect 3: Citadel
Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PC
4 (out of 5)
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