I have spent so much time with the Mass Effect universe that if I were to spot a Turian and a Salarian sitting at the table next to me in the coffee shop where I get my morning cappuccino, I wouldn’t find it the least bit odd. That is the greatest hallmark of the series – a world that feels so believable through the sheer richness of the stories it has brought us. With its latest DLC, Leviathan, it tells another story full of suspense and intrigue.
And it delivers that intrigue through the simplest of acts – walking. Leviathan is at its strongest when Commander Shepard is just walking; through a mining facility where everything seems just wrong, through a lab shuffling through clues and piecing them together, across the bottom of the ocean as you close in on a secret long lost and well kept.
The tale kicks off when Admiral Hackett tasks Shepard to meet with a Dr Bryson, a scientist who has dedicated his life to proving the existence of things that have generally been dismissed as stories. In these myths, he is searching for an advantage against the Reapers and has stumbled upon something – the Leviathan, a mythical creature believed to have killed a Reaper. I will leave the rest of it for you to discover, as the story is the strongest aspect of this adventure.
Chronologically, it takes place before the final mission of Mass Effect 3, and has no great impact on the conclusion except a few additional dialogues incorporating the events of Leviathan. However, even though it takes place before the conclusion, it has been created in a manner that is best experienced only after completing the game. In my opinion, playing Leviathan before finishing Mass Effect 3 will take away the magnitude of the discovery at the end of the game, simply because of the amount of information it divulges by the end of it.
On the gameplay side of things, it is familiar territory. Leviathan takes you to three new locations, where you will battle the full range of the Reaper forces that were present in Mass Effect 3. This is a bit of a disappointment, considering how Lair of the Shadow Broker and Project Overlord from Mass Effect 2 brought something new and unexpected to the table. That said, there are enough Brawlers and Banshees thrown in to keep you on your toes. It is enjoyable, if not remarkable.
I also experienced some glitches and frame-rate issues with the game, especially during one of the initial combat sequences, where the frame-rate slows down to a crawl, and many of the Marauders appeared to be suspended in mid-air. Coupled with the lack of new ideas, it suggests that the folks over at Bioware were in a bit of a rush to get it out.
Despite a fascinating story that adds to the lore of the Mass Effect universe, Leviathan feels like an opportunity lost. A little more deliberation on the gameplay, and perhaps a little less exposition in the story would have made it a great fit with Mass Effect 3. It may as well be the last tale that is told of Commander Shepard. It’s a pity then that it will not be counted among the most memorable.