What I Played Today: Mass Effect 3: Leviathan!


Technically, I played it yesterday.

So, remember how everyone hated the ending to that highly anticipated, trilogy-culminating, pre-order bonanza of a FPS RPG called Mass Effect 3? I do. Later, when Bioware got around to releasing an expanded and updated ending, it seems like only about half of the original ME3 crowd came back to see it. Part of it might have just been exhaustion over the whole ME3 ending saga – it was mostly fatigue that kept me from running to my XBox to plunge into the depths of the new ending. I suspect others are sticking to their guns; they heard that the “new” ending isn’t really new at all, just an expansion on existing events and themes. So they’re not interested. The Indoctrination crowd didn’t find much to love in the new ending, so diehards of that theory or whatever… probably didn’t need to rush back to see things unfold.

Others I suspect are in a third camp. They want an excuse to play the game again, but they don’t really feel like doing Chronos Station and Earth. At least, not as a standalone. It’s not like those missions were some glowing paragon of what ME3 could be. All of the heavy stuff happens earlier, and Earth doesn’t have the fun factor that the final assault on the Collector Base did. It’s kind of a long slog, when you get right down to it. In fact, the whole game is pretty heavy, and I’m not sure it bears back-to-back play-throughs with as much grace as the previous installments did. I, at least, noted Mass Effect lover and apologist, have completed Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 probably a dozen times each. I have completed Mass Effect 3 once. Just once. I continued to play the multiplayer occasionally, keep that readiness nice and blue, and waited patiently for a time when I would feel the urge to play the game once again.

It turns out that the urge returned when BioWare finally dropped their first single player content DLC: Leviathan.

Leviathan starts with the story of a man named Dr. Bryson, a scientist on the Citadel who is investigating celestial phenomenae. Specifically, he is rooting around through old monster legends and other such seeming nonsense for any kind of clues that might have survived from a previous cycle about the Reapers. In the course of this research he discovered something that is – potentially – even more interesting… an artifact that is linked to a space monster they’ve dubbed ‘Leviathan’. A creature so powerful that it was capable of downing a Reaper in single combat. Something that seems impossible. But, Bryson does have this weird glowy artifact, and he seems pretty sure… and, since we’re completely desperate for even the tiniest possible edges at this point in our seemingly unwinnable battle against extermination… I eventually acceded that it was probably worth tracking down Bryson’s assistant, who went to an asteroid mining facility in order to follow up on a possible second artifact. Needless to say, hilarity ensues, and Shepard embarks on several missions, broken up by return visits to the lab for analysis, before the climactic scene on an eerie ocean planet about which the less I say, the better.

In terms of DLC, Leviathan is no Lair of the Shadow Broker. While it does appreciably expand on some story elements of Mass Effect 3 (specifically, you gain some fun information about the Reapers. This DLC answered one of my most irritatingly nagging questions about the background of the Reapers. Fun!) and it provides a handful of fun missions – the ocean planet, it’s worth stating, is a gorgeous backdrop for the mission that takes place there – it lacks the character driven tension of Lair. I would put it more on par with the “Arrival” DLC for ME2. You don’t have much reason to get invested in the new characters you meet, and so they feel disposable in a way the core cast never would have. That having been said, I don’t know how many of you returned to ME2 to complete Arrival, but I felt it was a well-spent $10, and I feel the same way about Leviathan. It has a good atmosphere, a couple of cool weapons and new modifications for your gun toting pleasure, and a very impactful revelation at the end.

Incidentally, if you have any interest in ME3 single player DLC at all, there’s extra incentive to acquire Leviathan. Fan interest has seemed much less driven for ME3 DLC than in previous titles… presumably because the ending to the game is as final as it is. Shepard’s story can’t continue, it can only expand.

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