*ME3 Spoilers Below*
Whenever I play a game I like to “act the part” as it were, so I managed to maintain a stoicism to match Shepard’s throughout the ME trilogy. There were a couple moments where I almost broke—saying goodbye to Garrus before making the final run for the Crucible was one of them. But I made my final choice, sat through all of the credits, and watched the sweet little scene at the very end without once breaking out my cryface.
Even though I was only partway through ME3 when the “Citadel” DLC was released, I chose to play it after I had finished the main storyline. I wanted to have the same experience other ME fans had. I am so glad I did. Getting the crew together for one last hurrah was so bittersweet in light of my knowledge of the ending, and the way they handled Anderson’s appearance was absolute genius.
If you play the DLC after you’ve “won” the game, like most did, you’re perfectly aware Anderson dies in the final assault. Even though he’s alive at “Citadel’s” point in the story, he never actually appears in the room with you, nor do you talk to him via the usual holographic comm channels. You see him only on vid screens and hear his disembodied voice recordings on scattered datapads, which makes the scene where you walk around his apartment gathering his biographical notes feel like settling affairs after a funeral.
Maybe it’s because I played my Shepard as a Colonist/Sole Survivor—a woman who loses her family, gains a new one with the Alliance, then loses it again when she watches her unit be devoured on Akuze—maybe it’s because Anderson never had kids of his own, or maybe it’s because I wasn’t brave enough to lose it when he told me he was proud of me while we overlooked Earth one last time, but hearing him call me a rare soldier and an even rarer woman was the arrow that finally struck true.
I lost it, and I lost it over everything. Garrus, Mordin, the uncertainty that my final choice was the correct one, everything.
Keelah Se’lai, Admiral.