Oh, The Places You'll Go: Mass Effect's Citadel

Oh, The Places You'll Go is a weekly column by Kimberley Wallace where she visits an in-game world, acting as a travel agent. Read as she explores the nooks and crannies of each (probably war torn) landscape. This week, we bring you to The Citadel, recently featured in Mass Effect 3.

The view from space shows the Citadel teeming with life. Each of its five arms is illuminated with a criss-crossing series of lights, almost like a circuit board. These talon-like extensions connect to the Presidium ring, the center of Galactic commerce and politics. They can also change like a chameleon; when closed, the Citadel becomes a fortress, no longer looking like it's the bastion of life, but instead a sleek, clean cylinder into which nothing can enter - or from which no one can escape. Hey, if you're going to find a safe place during the war, this is probably your best bet.

Yes, the Reapers are coming, ready to slay us with their steely tentacles and laser eyes. And in these moments when you feel so small and helpless in the fight to save the galaxy, there's only one thing to do: escape. Let Shepard worry about the Reapers; take a load off and come on down to the Citadel, a marvel of technology, not only full of mysteries, but also the core of civilization.
The Citadel's biggest wonderment is its existence; built a countless number of cycles ago by an unknown people with unidentified materials, galactic society finds itself constantly brought back to it. All of the mass relays connect here, making it a busy central hub for the universe. There' are plenty of viewing points to see ships launching and docking in a mesmerizing rhythm with unmatched coordination. Roaming around its structure are spider-like Keepers, but please do not interact with them; their purpose is to keep the Citadel up and running and any interference will cause them to self-destruct. While these creatures maintain the Citadel, its other denizens are coming together. It's not only inspiring, but comforting to know races such as the Turian, Asari, Salarian, and Human are working together in the Embassy to better the outcome of the war.

Please refrain from laughing at Shepard's dance moves ... you never know what mood you'll catch her in.

And for those of you who miss Earth, we've got a touch of home for you in the Presidium Commons. Currently decorated with the features of the Human homeworld, the Presidium Commons is bursting with sights and sounds. Enjoy the green trees and grass alongside red exotic flowers that provide a welcome distraction. If you're looking for the perfect view for a date, may we suggest the Apollo? Not only does this restaurant serve alcoholic beverages, but it has the best steak sandwich on the station. Not convinced? Kaidan Alenko not only endorses the sandwich, but he's also a frequent visitor.

The Presidium Commons also has a special promotion running, Blasto 6: Partners in Crime has audio excerpts available for your listening pleasure - the producer is even donating a portion of the proceeds to the Citadel's military defense fund. Got a thing for buddy-cop movies? Badassfully: we bet you've never seen an Elcor in action like this.

We should warn you that you're not the only one flocking to the Citadel for safety, so refugee camps are common. We assure all of your relocation requests are being given top priority during this nightmare, but we've provided emergency housing in the docks holding area. Perhaps this is your chance to do some good and help out those who are separated from their loved ones. You might even find a bustling game of poker -- just don't bet the last of your money against James Vega. We're not sure how he always manages to win, but we're starting to guess this pile of muscles is actually smarter than he lets on.

Since the universe's situation is so dire, there's also a Memorial Wall, inundated with pictures of those lost, to pay respect to those who have perished. Merely being around this wall will shower you with support from others going through the same situation as you. So much inspiration has been lifted from this wall that we even have a tattoo artist on standby in case you have the urge to permanently make a statement. There is a travel warning for this area, though: due to the high volume of refugees, there's also an abundance of press coverage. However, security is friendly enough to look the other way in an instance where you might want to assault a reporter.

Maybe you just want to forget the Reapers. We've got the place for you, a super-chic VIP bar called Purgatory. In fact, it's so exclusive that the Citadel tourism board doesn't even recognize its existence. Hey, sometimes you just need to let your hair down, numb the pain with some booze, and dance the night away. The music is always deafeningly techno, and there have been many times when frequenters end up passed out drunk in the elevator - if that's not a sign of a good night, we don't know what is! Please refrain from laughing at Shepard's dance moves, though, you never know what mood you'll catch her in.

It's the end of the world as we know it, and don't you want to feel fine? The Citadel promises a safer venue, full of plenty to immerse you away from it all. Note that life rarely gives us happy endings when facing a war, especially against indestructible, menacing machines like the Reapers. Therefore, there are no refunds if you don't like the way this journey ends ... but we do promise this trip will be memorable.

Kimberley Wallace is a Chicago-based freelance writer with work featured in the Official Xbox Magazine, GamesRadar, and PlayStation: The Official Magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @kstar1785.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.