Mass Effect 3: Leviathan

"...if you're one of those players who decided that Shepard's story has been put to rest and would rather let sleeping dogs lie, the $10 entry fee for Leviathan might be better spent somewhere else."

After a long string of free downloadable content after the kerfuffle among the vocal minority regarding Mass Effect 3's ending, BioWare has began to roll out premium story-based DLC to expand on the Mass Effect universe and Shepard's story. The first of these is Leviathan, which sends Shepard on a journey involving the Leviathan of Dis from Mass Effect lore. While the existence of pre-endgame DLC for Mass Effect 3 may seem contentious to some – it can be argued that it doesn't really matter at this point – there's more to this scenario than meets the eye.

On a mission that can be tackled any time before the endgame, Admiral Hackett sends Shepard to find whatever beings could have destroyed the famed Leviathan of Dis, which was in actuality a Reaper corpse. Shepard's first order of business is to find a Dr. Alex Garneau, who is possibly the best (and only) lead to the information regarding the Leviathan. Shepard tracks Garneau to a research station and finds himself in a M. Night Shyamalan movie: the occupants talk in monotone, repeat the same borderline threats ad infinitum, and seem to be completely apathetic. While at first blush it seems that these individuals are indoctrinated, they don't seem to be suffering the exact same symptoms, leading Shepard on a chase through different worlds to unravel the mystery.

The best thing about Mass Effect DLC is that BioWare consistently uses them as a chance to explore new gameplay styles. Elements such as survival horror, stealth, and platforming were explored in DLC of previous titles, and Leviathan continues this trend by making use of logic puzzles; as Shepard tracks Dr. Garneau, and eventually the civilization that Garneau was researching, Shepard must piece together clues to narrow down the possible locations where the answers may lie. In between these puzzles are a good amount of firefights against a multitude of Reaper forces who have similar objectives, culminating in an underwater exploration in a modified Atlas Mech. The firefights themselves are somewhat uninspired and a little boring, as they're basically the same enemy types and combat scenarios found in the main game, with no memorable set pieces. There are some more objective problems as well, however, such as an area where Shepard is unable to move down a ladder, which forced me to resort to bizarre camera manipulation in order to proceed. Under normal circumstances it would have been a game-stopping bug, but thanks to the wonder of the Internet I was able to progress without too much trouble. The point, though, is that the bug shouldn't have been there in the first place. One would think that after three games in the series and a multitude of DLC BioWare wouldn't make such pedestrian mistakes anymore.

The biggest thing Leviathan offers is a large piece of Mass Effect lore. It answers some pertinent questions about the Reapers and their origins, tying up loose ends and lingering queries regarding the mechanical race. Those who have invested themselves in Mass Effect lore – such as myself – will no doubt find the revelations in Leviathan to be interesting, and the lead up to these reveals is a rather quality three hour mission line. Those less invested in the lore can still find some intriguing upgrades in Leviathan, such as a novel Omni-tool blade that gives an assault rifle a bayonet-like attachment. However, if you're one of those players who decided that Shepard's story has been put to rest and would rather let sleeping dogs lie, the $10 entry fee for Leviathan might be better spent somewhere else.

© 2012 Electronic Arts, BioWare. All rights reserved.

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