Mass Effect 3: Leviathan Review
With the ending expanded and several free multiplayer expansions designed to encourage you to spend money on guns out of the way, Bioware are finally starting to get to the real meat of Mass Effect with their latest DLC - story content. But is the deep-sea adventure of Leviathan worth paying for?
Leviathan isn't something that's going to fundamentally change the Mass Effect 3 experience, but some of what's revealed here does feel peculiar to be part of a tale told outside the core game.
Telling the story of Commander Shepard's search for a legendary being that supposedly took down a Reaper thousands of years prior, the core of the plot is about trying to gain a particularly powerful ally and war asset - but things are deeper than they seem. Story revelations quickly reveal previously unknown information about the origin and identity of the Reapers themselves.
The story presented is interesting and provides color and context for the final sections of the game which confused and disappointed on launch.
That's why it perhaps should've been a mission in the regular game. It even adds some lines to the game's final conversation pertaining to the discoveries of this mission.
As always with DLC, Bioware experiments - Shadow Broker tested ideas for cinematic flair used in Mass Effect 3, while Overlord experimented in similar ways. This does something a little different to that - it turns Shepard detective.
A large chunk of Leviathan's story plays out with Shepard on crime scenes, finding clues and piecing together evidence and leads to try to figure out exactly what happened on an ill-fated scientific expedition, in turn stringing a path to the creature he's hunting.
The search for clues and light deduction is a pleasant change of pace for Mass Effect, and an obvious fit with the game's branching conversation trees. When the section is over, giving way to combat, I felt that it was over all too soon - but that's mainly because I was enjoying it so much. Yes, Bioware, I would love a detective-based spin-off playing as C-Sec.
It's not just one mission but a string of shorter ones, taking place in familiar locales like the Citadel as well as all-new ones. The new locations have a dark, brooding feel, and are quite beautifully crafted.
Shepard's squad have been given a plethora of new dialogue and chit-chat in the mission, though they don't feel anywhere near as involved here as they do in the core game.
That said, they comment on events as they happen and even talk about the various stages of the mission on the Normandy - an effort appreciated. Relationships aren't developed here, though - this is about the search for Leviathan.
In the end, Leviathan's greatest flaw is that it's simply over too soon. I was sad when the detective segment ended, sad when the dive underwater teased in the trailer turned out to be brief, and sad when the mission itself was over - even if I left it more enlightened.
Even then, for 800 Microsoft Points - $10 or just under £7 - Leviathan’s two-to-three hour playtime coupled with the story insight it delivers makes it well worth it. Bioware's streak of solid single player DLC continues.