Review: Mass Effect 3: Leviathan DLC

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The new “Leviathan” DLC pack for “Mass Effect 3″ falls so far below this reviewer’s expectations that everyone at BioWare and EA Games who had a role in developing or marketing this add-on needs to pull out a dictionary and look up the word “promise.”

Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition) defines a promise as “1. An oral or written agreement to do or not to something; vow. 2. Indication, as of a successful prospect or future; basis for expectation 3. Something promised.”

In a sentence: “The Leviathan DLC for Mass Effect 3 does not deliver what its advertising promised.”

Anyone who viewed Leviathan’s trailer could be forgiven for expecting to spend a significant portion of the game underwater while experiencing new game mechanics or fighting new enemies.

No such luck. No story spoilers here, but the underwater portion of Leviathan consists of about two minutes’ worth of walking around the ocean floor and then engaging in a long dialogue sequence with the DLC pack’s titular character. Leviathan fails to offer any new foes, new vehicles, new playable characters nor many compelling reasons to actually play it except for a bit more explanation of Mass Effect 3’s controversial ending sequence and the origin of the series’ villains, the Reapers.

What Leviathan does offer are two weapons that were previously available only to players who
pre-ordered Mass Effect 3, some serviceable combat sequences and more than a little padding. Players who resume their role as Mass Effect protagonist Commander Sheperd will spend about 30 minutes of game time looking around a lab before they actually get to shoot any bad guys. There are three sequences where players have to “investigate” that lab for clues or interview a key character, and the experience just gets to be repetitive.

Another knock on Leviathan is that the writers seem to have taken away some of Shepard’s smarts. Any Mass Effect player knows “indoctrination” (i.e. mind control) is a major plot element in the series, but Shepard and friends fail to notice obvious signs of indoctrination during Leviathan’s opening chapters. It’s baffling.

Leviathan is especially underwhelming when compared to the DLC offered for “Mass Effect 2,” which offered new characters, a new vehicle and a lot more challenge than Leviathan’s shoot-and-repeat style of gameplay. Leviathan’s combat sequences feel like a clone of Mass Effect 3’s narrative-free multiplayer battles. Leviathan offers about three hours of gameplay, but that gameplay lacks the character development and drama that made the Mass Effect series so successful.

Mass Effect 3: Leviathan
BioWare/EA Games
PC, PlayStation 3, XBox 360 (Reviewed on XBox 360)
Rated M for Mature