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.
This DLC was reviewed on Xbox 360