Mass Effect 3 ‘Leviathan’ DLC Review

WARNING! Trying to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but read at your own risk.

I hate to say it, but I’ve had enough “context” for Mass Effect 3. BioWare had a chance, and took it, to explain what it was going for with the supervillainous robot cuttlefish that are the Reapers in its universe. Ship: sailed. Context: created. Story: finalized.

So what’s the point of Leviathan, I wonder. From a story standpoint, it really doesn’t add much to the greater tale of Shepard’s struggle to unite the galaxy. In actuality, it’s more of a wild goose chase than anything. The DLC starts with Shepard responding to an order from Hackett to help out a scientist who thinks he’s discovered a “Reaper killer” through vague contextual information. Within the first minute of the DLC, the scientist is killed by what appears to be an indoctrinated agent. Suddenly, Shepard’s on the hunt to find the remaining researchers and discover just what this “Reaper killer” is.

Okay, great. But at the end of the three-hour trek to unravel this mystery, what’s gained? A fraction of insight into the origins of the Reapers that, really, we already had. A brief underwater sequence. A number of set-piece fights with Reaper forces. And, in the end, little else. Leviathan is more of the same, and where BioWare had a chance to really run with its iconic villains and their origins, or give a lot of cool backstory to the galaxy at large, it chose more vague explanations and “context.” We already know this story — so why are we hearing it again?

Mass Effect 3 ‘Leviathan’ DLC
Platforms: PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360 (reviewed)
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: Aug. 28, 2012
MSRP: $9.99

This is not a judgment on the overall merits of the plot points BioWare has installed in its ending and added to with its Extended Cut DLC. BioWare has put a heavy emphasis on the trope of “organics versus synthetics” and that comes up again, more powerfully, in Leviathan. Whether you’re a fan of that idea or not is irrelevant to this discussion; what is relevant is the fact that what this DLC pack has to illuminate in terms of story are more answers to questions that no one was really asking. Do we want to know about the Reapers? Yes. Do we want to know the exact same thing that was revealed by the Extended Cut, delivered in a slightly different way?

No. Not really.

So Leviathan takes players across the galaxy as they’re gathering information in order to track down whatever the fabled “Leviathan” is. Arriving at various locations, Shepard finds that Reaper forces are generally already around. This is a recurring theme in the DLC — wherever you go, you spend most of your time blasting away at Reaper forces. It actually gets a little dull. Hey, let’s go check out this mining facility; oh, Reapers are attacking it. That architectural dig site? Reapers. Attacking it. You barely have time to figure out where you are before you’re under siege by various mutants.

My trouble with that is, we fought lots of guys already. All over the place. I’ve killed tons of Reapers, geth, Cerberus troops. For my $10, I want story, not what I can get out of Mass Effect 3′s multiplayer or single-player campaign at any point.

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29 Comments on Mass Effect 3 ‘Leviathan’ DLC Review

JeffDaniel

On August 28, 2012 at 2:32 pm

I still love BioWare. But I don’t think there’s any way to fix what Mac Walters did to this beautiful universe. I agree with you Phil. I think the DLC just needs to stop. . . unless they want to do Koobismo’s ending. ;)

lee

On August 28, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Thanks for the review. Be steering clear of this one.

Rik

On August 28, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Just as a feared. Thank you for saving me $10. I’d say FU to Bioware, but they don’t exist anymore. Maybe they should have a story about how bigger companies assimilate smaller companies for the worst. They should have made the Star Child’s name John Riccitiello.

Zach Rivera

On August 28, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Just finished it and gotta say it was ok…..as the article stated, no real content here, a few gun upgrades and one actual new gun that is , meh. This dlc should have been 5 bucks no doubt about that, the story was decent it’s just nothing amazing

Dave

On August 28, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Keep seeing links going OMG LEVIATHAN BUY IT from people who are probably paid lots of money by EA each year. Glad to know there are people who actually review things.

Ebalosus

On August 28, 2012 at 6:18 pm

So in other words, it’s like in lost where a “big” question that they were going to answer (that nobody really asked) was the meaning of Jack’s tattoos.

I think this is what Ryan Lhoner calls a “foot-massage reveal”

Wesker1984

On August 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I played it and i loved it. And for me we learn more interesting things about the reapers than what the Catalyst have said to our Shepard. 800MSP well spent.

Hemlock

On August 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Darn….was kind of hoping that the dlc wold be worth buying (and for me that would have to add depth to the lore, story, and characters…maybe even add more to the ending). But since it doesn’t…no reason to waste my $10…I need new eyeshadow colors anyway….or mybe a 6 pack of coke and sme m&ms……still haven’t been able to go through me3 a second time after the ending debacle….and more….how he community was treated by ea/bioware and the gaming press in general.

R.J.

On August 28, 2012 at 9:33 pm

I’d say this is pretty fair. You also can’t leave out that the marketing played up that the underwater bit was going to be something special. You walk forward, and that is all.

EndlessSorcerer

On August 28, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Agree on everything said in the review. The problem with this is as so many have pointed out before: The story is finished and unless they release a dlc that effect the ending (not just adding a few pieces dialouge like Leviathan did) or is about something we actually care about, we will do just that, won’t care (Though I fear that they will release several SP DLC and you will only unlock a new ending when you have bought everyone).

The Lair of the Shadow Broker was mentioned and a few of the differences between Lair and Lev was pointed out. But what wasn’t pointed out was the real difference between these two DLC: Lair was about Liara, a character we have known since the first game and even if we didn’t romance here we wondered what really happened with her. Lev is about a few characters but we didn’t know them before and therefore didn’t care, especially since they didn’t get that much screentime. Also Lair had potential in effecting the third game (I just wished that they would have been more than just EMS value, like if you had not played through Lair the original Shadow Broker could still have been alive and affecting things) while we knew that Lev wouldn’t since they had already said so, we could only hope that they were lying.

So what should the next DLC be about? I think they should be about what I mentioned: characters. Whether or not it is the rumoured Omega DLC or about other characters that we already know (perhaps traveling with Garrus to Palaven to resque someone or missions with the ME2 characters) doesn’t matter as long as we get to talk to them, having more romantic scenes (Which the ME2 characters had very little of) or just getting to know them better.

But in the end that are perhaps not the biggest failure with this DLC. The biggest failure is for me something it shares with the main game:

The trip might have been worth it, but the destination was not.

BigZ7337

On August 29, 2012 at 12:18 am

Thanks for playing the dlc for me. I was hoping for something worthwhile, but I should have known better. :/

Wesker1984

On August 29, 2012 at 12:35 am

Just to point out this DLC was an oppotunity to use the rejected Salarians-zombies enemy type and they should have done an epilogue to explain the Leviathans faith during the ending sequences.

Wolverine

On August 29, 2012 at 2:32 am

Wow! More useless war assets. Yes!

Screw you EA. not one penny more from me. Hopefully the best people from bioware will leave a form a new studio.

hahahaha

On August 29, 2012 at 6:49 am

this is the same review i have read from about 5 different sites. can’t say i am surprised this dlc is not worth the money. Not many things Bioware does these days are worth the price of admission. since they actively remove parts of there games to sell as dlc later on. i’m sad to say, after the botched handling of DA2 and ME3. i am no longer a Bioware fan. i actually greatly dislike them now

Brad

On August 29, 2012 at 10:37 am

I get the sneaking suion that EA will eventually rerelease the entire series together with all the DLC in a single box. At that point, they will probably drag Karpyshyn back to retool the ending in the hopes of bringing the fanbase back.

I only mention this because at one point, Bioware had said that they were eventually going to rerelease the entire series after the trilogy was complete.

RC

On August 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm

“bertplanescapetormentfinal_stream_mp3_large.mp3″

It’s not fresh at all. On the contrary, it’s only recycled from multiplayer. Same goes for the scene where Shepard has to carry this package with the energy cells around. I thought it was really weird, that they decided to port MP objectives to their SP campaign.

Legendaryscmt

On August 29, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I thought the DLC was alright. The beginning felt too rushed, though I liked how you had to look for clues as to where to go. I thought that the beginning of the mining colony was fantastic. It was eerie and made you wonder what might happen, if they colonists were going to attack, etc.

As for the back story, I’m glad and disappointed on how it was handled. On one hand, we finally get a look into the origins of the Reapers. That said, one of the driving forces of the story is the fact that we didn’t know what the Reapers really were or who created them. It’s the unsolved mystery that always stays with us the longest, and unfortunately, the mystery was somewhat revealed.

The Angry Hamster

On August 29, 2012 at 7:42 pm

 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.

R.J.

On August 29, 2012 at 8:24 pm

As RC pointed out, one of the “new” gameplay bits that showed up was straight out of MP. I was rather disappointed that they would blatantly lift something directly out of MP like that since it makes it look like an obvious shortcut. It’s bad enough that the side missions used the exact same maps as MP, but now gameplay objectives are getting recycled, too.

SevenCell

On August 30, 2012 at 5:03 am

In a word: Meh.
Don’t get it if you’re only interested in the new story, because there isn’t really any.
Experience all the best bits for free by Youtubing “Leviathan DLC Cinematics”.

Ash II

On August 30, 2012 at 6:04 am

It’s not too long, as I could indeed finish it in only a few hours. 5/10

The story overall is pretty good I think, but that’s a matter of taste. Short, but good. 9/10

There are no boss fights, nor any new enemies, but there were definitely some interesting fights, some comparable to the fight near the ending where we have to launch some missiles against the Reaper, right before you’re beamed up. 8/10

The locations are nice and varied. There’s a shot at somepoint where you can look up in the sky and see a lot of Harvesters flying around. It came across a little as a Skyrim reference.
The underwater trip looked very nice, it’s just too bad there were no fights down there to extend it a little. I would’ve enjoyed shooting at a bunch of indoctrinated Hanar or something. But overall, it’s okay.
I’d say 9/10 for locations, because the underwater area was too short. Some kind of fight there, or maybe some freedom to explore would’ve pushed a 10 for Locations for me.

There ARE weapons to be found in this DLC, but some people might’ve gotten them already, since both were available as pre-order bonusses.
Also a bunch of mods, a cabin item that some might like while others might find it disgusting, lots of war assets.
7/10, not exceptional, but not bad either.

Overall: 38/50, so that’s a 7.6 for me.
It’s comparable to the Kasumi DLC from ME2 I think, a little bit longer and more varied, but without a new squadmember to pick up. So if you liked Kasumi’s DLC for its content and not just to unlock a new squadie, then you’ll definitely like this one.

R-man

On August 30, 2012 at 9:52 pm

What I find disappointing is that this and the EC should’ve been released with the game… I really did like Leviathan, but it definitely wasn’t Lair of the Shadow Broker worthy… It was more on base with Overlord than LotSB, but overall, I did enjoy it. I don’t believe $10 was what the charge for admission should’ve been though.
Dammit Bioware, you need to just fix the ending by putting another choice in there… something from the fans, that isn’t just automatic defeat… There needs to be a way to get around the damn star child… and stop acting like Synthetics v. Organics has been the big picture all along… it’s been about working as a team… it’s been about relationships, and it’s been about what it is to be “human” and have your own free will and goals, and pretty much everything the Paragon Shepard would’ve taught EDI… Leviathan was good, but not exactly what I was looking for. I was hoping we could have Leviathan come out of nowhere at the end, and they would “save the day” and defeat the reapers while some other dramatic twist happened… Idk.
Overall, Leviathan was good, just not entirely what was needed, or what 10 bucks should’ve bought us.

Michael

On August 31, 2012 at 10:02 pm

When you meet the most knowledgeable entity in the Galaxy, the entity that coincidentally also built the enemy you are fighting, and you don’t ask a single question of strategic value to your fight then you should retire from your job. In any other conflict this encounter would have been a massive game changer. If they wanted to do some harmless mystery with some story telling they should have picked a lesser subject that doesn’t come with so many implications.

gabrielle

On September 3, 2012 at 12:08 pm

@Michael

Exactly! I haven’t seen anyone yet bring this up. The subject matter was not given the weight it should have been given relative to the overall storyline. (And of course, what the heck was it doing in an after-the-fact DLC??) It was so “Dis”connected.

Original post: “When you meet the most knowledgeable entity in the Galaxy, the entity that coincidentally also built the enemy you are fighting, and you don’t ask a single question of strategic value to your fight then you should retire from your job. In any other conflict this encounter would have been a massive game changer. If they wanted to do some harmless mystery with some story telling they should have picked a lesser subject that doesn’t come with so many implications.”

lee

On September 3, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Why can’t there be dlc that is set after the main story. I think there could be quite alot of story and adventure to be had on the Normandy’s journey home. Also you can take control of one of the characters like Garrus, Liara, or Ashley. When they crash land on the uknown planet who knows what’s there waiting for them. If they did something like that Bioware would be swimming in points but sadly they probably won’t be doing something like this.

Minus Plus

On September 4, 2012 at 5:41 am

lee
“Why can’t there be dlc that is set after the main story. I think there could be quite alot of story and adventure to be had on the Normandy’s journey home. Also you can take control of one of the characters like Garrus, Liara, or Ashley. When they crash land on the uknown planet who knows what’s there waiting for them. If they did something like that Bioware would be swimming in points but sadly they probably won’t be doing something like this.”

The problem is, in spite of how little variation there was in the endings, there’s still probably too much variation in how individual characters fared for your idea to be feasible. Remember, if you have a low EMS then your team is either presumed dead (with your squadmates explicitly shown dying), or is stuck on the planet trying to fix it. Couple that with the different permutations of squadmates and characters dying/not getting chosen/etc throughout the game, as well as the fact that the mass relays may or may not be obliterated and that Earth itself may be a barren wasteland, and it’s not really practical unless they go with the Indoctrination Theory which, as much as I love the theory, is long past the point where BioWare could redeem itself by going that route. Therefore, BioWare is in a bit of a no-win situation.

The DLC itself is pretty enjoyable, and what I especially like about it is that it focuses heavily on indoctrination and shows quite clearly that reapers can in fact project images into peoples’ minds, a massive bone of contention in the debate on the IT. I also really liked the underwater stage, but the rest of it isn’t really anything to write home about. It’s pretty manipulative again, the scenes of the daughter in her late father’s lab could have been really well done without the ‘this is a sad scene’ musical sledgehammer forcing the point home. Overall though, it’s not bad.

Robin

On September 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Seems like a pretty fair review. I don’t think I have much to add. Overall, I think it was about what I would have expected from ME3 DLC. I had fun playing it and I think $10 is pretty much a fair price. I don’t think it’s a must-have and even big ME fans would be OK waiting for a discount. It adds something to the lore, but nothing too earth-shattering. It would have been nice to have some new enemies or a boss fight. The new weapons don’t suit my Vanguard, so I haven’t used them. I haven’t tried out the new power either, so I can’t comment on that. Fighting on the outside of a collapsing laboratory was very fun for me. It was spatially different from other fights in ME3, so that was cool.

The underwater part was pretty underwhelming. I was hoping to do more than follow a bunch of flares for 4 minutes. The trailer seemed to imply there was going to be some sort of something going on down there.

Maay

On September 15, 2012 at 11:24 am

I agree with a lot that EndlessSorcerer said. And some of my own.
I enjoyed the fight scenes, because unless you redo the game, unless you reload some saved games, you don’t get to get back in the story that much. So despite the reviews, I bought the DLC and went back to ME’s univers with a lot of expectations, and some really enjoyable moments.
But although there is definitively an attempt at making a story, it is weak. The cut scenes need a lot of polishing. And the underwater sequences ? no thrill, no fuss, just a gentle stroll around… The new gun ? the new NPCs ? not worth much.
I must have done the shadow broker 10 times at least, and enjoyed it everytime. But leviathan ? once will be fine.

Lee

On September 15, 2012 at 6:22 pm

@Minus Plus I do agree with you however I would not be surprised if they did try to pull something like that out anyway. I admit it would be interesting