Mass Effect 3: Leviathan DLC review

Even though the Mass Effect trilogy ended, Bioware continues unveiling more secrets of the universe with Mass Effect 3’s first single-player DLC expansion, Leviathan. It's a piece of content that comes against high expectations from past add-ons. Previous DLC in the series, like ME2’s Lair of the Shadow Broker, pushed the narrative forward and had a definite effect on future story events, but ME3’s first pack never reaches those heights. Rather, it simply provides an engaging side-story that’s entertaining to play through, but it lacks the narrative impact you’d expect from the previous installments in the series.

The Leviathan DLC becomes available as soon as Shepard gains access to the Normandy in the main story campaign and starts with an email in Shepard’s personal terminal. The Reapers are wreaking havoc on the inhabitants of the galaxy and the Alliance is becoming desperate in their search for a way to combat the ominous, robotic cephalopods. Apparently, an Alliance researcher, Dr. Bryson, has been investigating rumors of a “Reaper killer” for years, after a dead Reaper was found by those lumpy aliens with four eyes (the Batarians). Now, Bryson is close to finding the location of Leviathan and Shepard has been called in to assist.

Without venturing into spoiler territory, you’ll find yourself rummaging through Bryson’s laboratory to find clues to the Leviathan’s whereabouts. This moment is where the gameplay takes a slight turn from the usual combat and dialogue heavy gameplay of Mass Effect 3 and focuses on clue-finding and detective work. 

The detective work isn’t the most challenging investigation gameplay you’ll do in a game, since all of the objects that can be interacted with are highlighted in red brackets. You can simply walk around and interact with everything that’s highlighted until the answers present themselves. But, that isn’t to say that the investigation portions aren’t gratifying. You’ll find yourself completely immersed in the story as companions like the fembot, EDI, spoon-feed you clue details--each one revealing interesting tidbits on the Mass Effect universe, unveiling new details on the Reapers, and beckoning you forward as you unravel the mystery of the Leviathan.

Once you find enough clues there are simple puzzles that, if you choose to solve them, narrow down a planet for your team to investigate. Alternatively, skipping the brain teaser forces you to scan planets on the Galaxy Map and risk alerting the Reaper patrols, so finding all of the clues and pinpointing leads will inevitably save you some leg work.

At the investigation sites (where all the action happens) you’ll encounter some of the most difficult waves of enemies in the single-player campaign, so jumping into the DLC at the beginning of your first playthrough might prove to be significant challenge. Brutes and Banshees are commonplace, but the DLC also introduces new weapons and weapon mods--like a three-shot burst rifle that kicks like a mule and Omni-blade bayonets--that will help you dispose of the tougher enemies quickly. The combat is as challenging and exciting as the later missions in the Mass Effect 3 campaign, so if you enjoyed those parts, you won’t be disappointed in Leviathan.

Every element of Leviathan combines to make a satisfying treasure hunt that is enthralling all the way to the end. Unfortunately, once you’ve finished Leviathan, you’ll feel as though you haven’t accomplished much. You may have gained a few allies and earned a new weapon, but as far as improving humanity’s odds at surviving the overall galactic crisis at hand, you’re basically right back where you started. This is due to the fact the DLC needs to maintain the continuity of the main campaign’s ending, so the resulting events of Leviathan are forced to fall flat.

Overall, the three hour search for Leviathan is fantastic, reminding us why we fell in love with Mass Effect 3 in the first place. While the end result after completing the DLC leaves you with a sense of being dropped back at square one, the investigation portions have the perfect amount of suspense attached, the combat sections are intense and challenging, and the small nudges and ultimate revelation at the end makes Leviathan worth the cost of admission to revisit Mass Effect 3 single-player. 

Our Verdict

Buy it

This DLC was reviewed on Xbox 360

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  • firos - August 31, 2012 2:05 p.m.

    Seriously, you're over reacting. It's just a game.
  • leo-garcia - August 30, 2012 5:28 p.m.

  • keltar93 - August 30, 2012 11:24 a.m.

    Me: "Sounds like something I'll put off until a second playthrough when this and any other DLC's are out. Let's see what the comments are like" "Oh. oh" *Backs away slowly*
  • MayorOfAmerica - August 30, 2012 10:53 a.m.

    Lol. First y'all whine about the ending and proclaim NEVER to EVER buy another Bioware/EA product again....and then you go out and buy the DLC, hence making them MORE money. Kudos for your iron resolve :-)
  • esteban-ramon - August 30, 2012 2:15 p.m.

    Well, i haven't bought it, i just watched on youtube to see if it was worth the effort they say it is. So yes, my resolve stayed intact thank you.
  • Redeater - August 30, 2012 2:45 a.m.

    I'm seriously questioning people who defend the ending now. While the original ending never made me angry the people who told me I was wrong not to like it did. This DLC pretty much destroys any consistency the normal or EC ending gave us.
  • Clovin64 - August 30, 2012 1:05 a.m.

    For anyone who knows, do your squad mates actually speak any new lines of dialogue in this DLC? It really irked me in ME2's DLC that your squad mates spent the whole mission completely silent because Bioware didn't record any new dialogue for them.
  • Redeater - August 30, 2012 2:39 a.m.

    Well I can only speak for Garrus and EDI but they seemed to chatter quite a bit. Then again the entire DLC has a very weird structure to it. Most of your time you will be running straight forward while the shit hits the fan or investigating rooms. Ultimately I enjoyed this DLC but since nothing you do means anything it does make it pointless. This is like discovering Doctor Manhattan, convincing him to help you with the Vietnam war and losing the war because...........well it doesn't matter if you have an advanced all powerful being on your side does it?
  • daverudden - August 30, 2012 9:56 a.m.

    They do. You'll get a line or two from both party members during the dozen or so cutscenes (including a nice moment with your RI), and you can speak to all of your squadmembers on the Normandy after finishing each planet's mission. No new Joker quips though, unfortunately.
  • Redeater - August 29, 2012 11:59 p.m.

    "While the end result after completing the DLC leaves you with a sense of being dropped back at square one" Don't tell Coop that. I seriously dislike that whole "what you have done doesn't matter argument". To me it seems the equivalent of arguing about creationism with Christians. If nothing I do doesn't matter then why am I playing in the first place? For the sheer fun of game play? Bullshit! I'll leave that to games like Mario Galaxy. I play games like ME for a strong coherent narrative.
  • esteban-ramon - August 29, 2012 8:52 p.m.

    So.....I changed nothing. Well, that a big fucking whoop-de-doo. Fucking failure one after another. You can't put something that big, something that (SPOILERS,SPOILERS,SPOILERS,SPOILERS,SPOILERS,SPOILERS,SPOILERS,SPOILERS,SPOILERS,SPOILERS,SPOILERS,SPOILERS,SPOILERS,SPOILERS,SPOILERS) and it did nothing?! Why fucking bother then. Fucking a waste of time, unless you want a challenge early on and grab some awesome upgrades, but if you are starting near the end, its not really worth the effort. I mean, we know the ending. DLC usually have an impact on the game later on, but if it changes nothing. Then what is the point. We learn something, and thats about it. Would be nice if they actually incorporated it from the get go, but they are simply scrambling for band aids to patch up a faulty story. To me, its not really worth all that much. If nothing changes, where my Shepard has a god damn chance in saving the universe, without fucking everything over, dying in an explosion, dying by joining the reapers, or simply dying and spreading himself to everyone. Then I fucking what that. But no. We can't have that can we. Oh, lets introduce this so late in the game. Oh, thats awesome, lets do that. Wouldn't this change the ending then. I mean, we just gave them- No. It doesn't change anything. oh...Okay. I will be blunt. The game was set up to fail. You will die. Everything you do would not matter. Every person you meet would only amount to a number. Every weapon you bring doesn't do jack squat. And every species you bring in still ends with you getting your collective asses kicked unless you chose a shitty ending. Fuck. Now I pissed off. I fucking sold my game to my cousin, and he fucking hated it. And he only played mass effect for a little while and was let down big time. he refuses to play and i think he tossed it into the trash. Frankly i would of done the same. Its like the Last Airbender movie all over again. Only instead i get jipped in the beginning, i got jipped in the end, where the replay value would of mattered the most, and they fucked it up royally. None of my friend who played the game more or less tossed the game into the bin after words. Hell most of them stop playing games all together because it sucked that badly. You know what. Fuck Bioware. I am waiting for Halo 4 and AC3. They are my only hope now.
  • ChiChiRocket - August 29, 2012 11:55 p.m.

    Geez, did you JUST beat the game or something? I would expect this kind of reaction back in March, but how could someone still be this butthurt almost six months later?
  • ParagonT - August 30, 2012 5:55 a.m.

    I think its just after so many hours of engrossing yourself in a universe to see the developers go "screw it" at the last final stretch. It's seriously like Neon Genesis Evangelion without the broke budget at the end. You simply ignore the ending episodic and replace it with the movie in the example's case, but In this case, they had the budget, and they're still not quite hitting the mark with DLC. If that makes any sense. Another way of thinking is that if your friend was not even trying to live up to her/his potential, you would be mad too correct? Same goes for this series that has brought a gaming niche together, it's frustrating when it could be much more.
  • MayorOfAmerica - September 19, 2012 2:08 p.m.

    What if they don't deliver? Will you retire from gaming, or just continue to be angry about everything that doesn't go your way?
  • The Angry Hamster - August 29, 2012 7:45 p.m.

     I had hoped for something that would coax me back into the Mass Effect universe; Leviathan did an outstanding job of disappointing me.  The only thing that did change was a few "honorable mention" questions during that dreadful ending that already has plagued this game.   The animation of the key NPCs made them look like a 1970's Disney "wax faced" animatronic show.  The overall graphics wasn't too bad and the game play was pretty good, and couple of times the facial animation was actually acceptable (the look of the indoctrinated was quit effective in making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up)  Sadly though... That was about it. I am now about as disappointed as I can be with this disastrous game.  A story isn't anything without a good ending--that can either be the monument for a great work of art...or the weakest link in a chain. Leviathan didn't make the game any better, it just sprayed a bit of Rustoleum® on the link in question. Thanks, Bioware! Class dismissed.
  • ObliqueZombie - August 29, 2012 8:03 p.m.

    Why "review" the graphics? It's the same engine as the actual game. And frankly, even on the 360, it was some of the best graphics I've seen. Animations were believable, not the best I've seen, but still And did you honestly play the DLC, or are you just lamenting the Mass Effect 3 ending yet again?
  • ColtPersonality - August 30, 2012 8:38 a.m.

    shhh, just let them keep beating that dead horse, if its what helps them sleep at night, who are we to stop them?