Assuming you've finished all three Mass Effect games, and their attendant DLC, you've probably sunk around 200 hours of your life into the series over the last six years. Which only makes it weirder that Bioware has chosen now to turn the game into a screwball comedy.
Yes, Mass Effect 3: Citadel, the final content drop, which sees Shep and crew on shore leave, is... funny. Not funny like watching four back-to-back episodes of Louie - which is about how long Citadel takes to complete - but there are proper laughs here. Almost every other line features an attempted wisecrack and, arguably more weirdly, given that AAA games are usually as inept at humour as they are with sex, plenty of the jokes actually pay off.
Shep has a lovely moment of introspection as she realises what a killjoy saving the universe has made her - "seriously, do I really sound like that?" - while Wrex takes to calling himself 'Uncle Urdnot' as he guns down the green-eyed goons who provide the DLC's antagonists.
As strange a tonal shift as it is after three games of largely po-faced dialogue interspersed with some sobbing, it's also a welcome relief. Citadel feels like Bioware cutting loose and delivering a one-off special directed by Joss Whedon, making it pretty much an essential piece of fourth wall-breaking fan service.
Jokes with Joker
In keeping with that spirit, the entire supporting cast come together to help Shep discover who on the Citadel is trying to steal her identity. You're still restricted to picking two squadmates for missions, including an Ocean's 11 casino riff, but the climax features the entire crew in action and bantering for all their worth.
It's a brilliant touch, and one you'll probably wish Bioware had tried earlier, creating an end of school vibe that culminates in an actual party for the characters. After all this time, it's fair to say both developers and players have earned a moment to kick back too.
Whether or not Citadel points to a new, funnier, future for Bioware feels less likely - but it's a reminder, as Portal 2 was, of how far a few gags go. Citadel feels fresh compared to the tired 'haunted house' missions of recent DLC packs, and deserves to be filed alongside Kasumi's Stolen Memory and Lair of the Shadow Broker as one of the best expansions to the Mass Effect universe, as well as a fitting full stop for the trilogy.
By Tim Clark
A decent, surprisingly comic send-off