Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bravo, Bioware. BRAVO.

Okay, so I don't usually do reviews because ... honestly, I don't know why? Maybe I just don't really feel like something is worth mentioning unless it makes an impact, either positive or negative. Plus, there are endless amounts of sites that provide professional reviews, so I figure that's an area that stays pretty covered.

But I just cannot resist. The Mass Effect 3 DLC Citadel is quite possibly the best video game expansion I have ever played. I'm going to go back and replay it I don't even know how many times - probably enough to where I hear all the unique dialogue from all the characters and then some. Hell, I may even play it with my ManShep. From what I can tell, it has no effect on the ending*, but it was damned fun to see all of the characters back in action. Particularly Wrex. Oh, how I missed Wrex.

It's been called a "love letter to fans," and yeah, it totally is. I know I always wondered what Shepard and Crew did when they weren't fighting Reapers or Collectors or whatever, and I got an answer. Garrus takes tango lessons; Zaeed is addicted to arcade games; Grunt performs teenager-esque stunts and then gets hungry for noodles; Tali watches over-the-top melodramatic romances. I mean, God. Every part of this DLC was perfect, from the beginning sushi date with Joker through the main plot all the way to the Blowout Party, where of course everyone makes fun of Shepard's dancing. I even enjoyed characters that I kinda hated, like Miranda. How FemShep and she interact at the casino actually makes me think they're friends, not just coworkers, and Miranda doesn't have this I Am Superior attitude throughout the entire thing. Even Javik, who I thought was kind of an asshole - well, he still is an asshole, but I like him more - Bioware really knows their characters, and they know what fans love about those characters. If I didn't know any better, it's like they were sitting in on conversations between me, Three, and our friend, A, as we discussed the Mass Effect series, even down to the Big Bad of the DLC.

They also understand that a lot of people that love the series feel deeply connected to these characters. I cried when Thane died earlier in the ME3 game (seriously, the game is a year old; it's not a spoiler), and I didn't even have my FemShep romance him**. When I got to Grunt's scene with Shepard, I loved the maternal aspect of her relationship with him; he's her freaking baby, even if he is a full-grown, basically teenage krogan. The date scene with Garrus (because this Shepard had a turian fetish, in my head canon) had me smiling the whole time, even more so when he was awkwardly trying to have a fake blind date with Shepard with a female turian watching on. And Wrex complaining about all the sex he was being forced to have because of the genophage cure was the icing on this incredible DLC cake. I could literally talk, point by point, about the whole damned DLC and geek out the whole fucking time, which I think is what Bioware was going for. This really was an appropriate ending to Shep's story, showing how she was awesome on her own, sure, but her friends and comrades are what makes her great.

A lot of video games, I think, should look to Mass Effect and take notes. I mean, it wasn't perfect. Each of the games had their own bugs, and the story, while expansive and highly detailed and nearly hard sci-fi in its descriptions of space travel and math, wasn't completely perfect, even in the new DLC (I won't give any spoilers here, because my main issue with the storyline here is a pretty big plot point). But that wasn't ever really the point. Bioware created this little society, led by Shep, that people just got. They fell in love with these characters and their relationships and their side stories. Why else did I play the million hours (I exaggerate) of loyalty missions in ME2? It wasn't for the higher war asset score in ME3, although that was a nice perk***.

All in all, I say, bravo, Bioware. BRA-FUCKING-VO. While I may wish to have seen Shep get reunited with Garrus and then adopt Grunt, I'll be content with having that happen in my head. Instead, they chose to give me a much better gift: a chance to virtually party like there's no tomorrow with some people I wish were actually real. And so I could call Wrex "Uncle Urdnot." Now, I have to convince myself that getting sleep is preferable to playing more ME3. Sigh.

* I understand why a lot of people were upset with the ending. I thought it was bland, actually, and was kind of hoping for an epic showdown with Harbinger, but whatever. I was more disappointed with the lack of closure and leaps of logic (how in the hell did the Normandy go from being in a battle to being propelled by a mass relay?). I am also firmly in Camp The Ending Was Shepard's Internal Battle with Indoctrination.
** At least, not this playthrough. I did have another character hook up with him, though, and yeah, even though Thane's reptilian-based? He's still ridiculously hot. I don't even know what I'm saying.
*** I'm also the person that just cannot let bad shit happen to these characters. I don't want to see them die because I didn't do a loyalty mission. And I cannot bring myself to get a lower score in ME3 just to see the Earth and everything get destroyed. I have a hard enough time watching the videos on Youtube.
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