This is something I felt compelled to write;
both as a gamer and the influences that helped shape me as a developer.
I have looked up to Bioware for many years. Combined with my love for Point & Click adventure titles, Bioware's games helped shape the direction I took in the video game industry, and how I came to Telltale Games. Focusing on stories, cinematics, immersing the player into a world you create; this concept caused me to go to a second college and get a degree in film on top of my art degree. What's interesting to me is that the Mass Effect series was released while I was a student, to the final release of me being an industry professional. So when looking back, it can be hard to separate the gamer from the developer at times, normally those opinions can be of two different minds.
In short? I loved it. To get it out of the way though, yes, I was one of those that didn't really like the ending. You can argue game mechanics, story, texture swaps, etc (I did love the indoctrination theory though). In the end, as a gamer, it just didn't sit well with me. As a developer though, getting the chance to work on a story driven game myself; giving players choices on what to say/do, I have a much greater understanding and appreciation for what Mac Walters and his team had to go through. A game the size of the Mass Effect series, all the choices they had to track, it's just mind blowing to think about. In the end, oddly enough, I chose to base the entire game on the last bit of DLC: "Citadel."
In a way, this was more of an ending than anything else was (character development wise) in my opinion. The writing was top notch, the action was awesome, this "episode" made me laugh harder and longer than all three games put together! It had a Bruce-Willis-Die-Hard type feel about it (especially if you played as a Male Renegade Shepard). Some of the one liners you get were pure Gold. They even threw in a Joker narrated moment that I swear could have come from Robot Chicken. Some of the romance moments still felt muted and not as invested. I know it means making more cinematics with different skeleton structures, but having Shepard sitting next to his/her love interest without them holding hands while they talk, arm around their shoulder, etc, just felt…distant (but this is something that happens throughout the series and is a tiny gripe). Overall, this DLC shows why I love the series. Being able to interact with all the characters separately and together, hearing their opinions of each other in the same room, fighting with everyone, hanging out with Wrex one last time, it was all perfect.
I hope that whatever game Bioware continues to make based off of the Mass Effect franchise, that they take a huge page from the Citadel DLC. Having the characters interact more, feeling more aware of their surroundings, having light-hearted moments, and fighting as a group (even if you only pick two other people to "take point") are all important moments that this DLC polished.
if I ever get a chance to meet anyone that works at Bioware,
they shall get the highest of high-fives
as you have my respect and my thanks for all the work you have done.
Life's a game and it's meant to be played,