Posted on August 28, 2012, Phil Hornshaw 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)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: Aug. 28, 2012
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.