Mass Effect 3: Leviathan: A narrative-rich return trip

September 3, 2012

BioWare did a great job supporting Mass Effect 2 after launch, and some of the best missions in the game were available after launch. There wasn’t much wrong with Overlord or Lair of the Shadow Broker, and ME3’s Leviathan combines the two in terms of atmosphere and narrative and improves on them both.

Overlord was full of atmosphere, emotion and interesting characters. What it was missing was voice acting for your squadmates while on the various missions, and banter in between missions on the Normandy. Overlord also is a straight path, and you can’t deviate from it. Once you start the sequence you’re committed to running all of those missions in order. Lair of the Shadow Broker was the same way. Once you started, you were finishing. The narrative and implications to the universe were huge, and seeing the events unfold was a real treat for Mass Effect fans. It’s this narrative importance that Leviathan borrows from Lair of the Shadow Broker, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Leviathan is BioWare firing on all cylinders. I don’t want to spoil the story for you, as it is Leviathan’s strongest point. What you can expect is great atmosphere, interesting locations, gameplay elements not found in the main game in the form of detective-style investigation and drone escort (which was introduced in multiplayer as a mobile point-hold objective) and great dialogue for all of your party members both in and between missions. Leviathan can also be played a piece at a time between other missions, if you come in with a save that isn’t butted up against the final assault.

The additions to the lore are fantastic, and there are callbacks to events from both prior games. Odds are very good that you knew before reading a review whether Leviathan was going to be a purchase for you, but in case you were on the fence, this is one of the better DLC packs across the entire trilogy, especially for those who are interested in the history of the Mass Effect universe and how it all ties into the galaxy’s fight against the reapers. The only thing Leviathan is missing is a great boss encounter, but combat isn’t why I play Mass Effect. I am more than happy with the narrative payoff that we got instead, and there’s plenty of unique combat to go around without encountering another monster that doesn’t really make sense (as the yahg at the end of Lair of the Shadow Broker felt very silly to me).

Pros: Well-realized and atmospheric locations, new guns and mods, interesting characters, a great plot full of answers to questions raised through the series, fun detective bits
Cons: One of the achievements is poorly-worded; it’s not broken, you just didn’t do exactly what Bioware wanted you to.

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.