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Mass Effect 3: Leviathan Review

MASS EFFECT 3: LEVIATHAN - (DLC) For PC - Review by Bamul

Mass Effect 3: Leviathan Boxshot

Once again, we are presented with some stellar downloadable content but not enough of it.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Spent: 10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line: "Too short"

INTRODUCTION:
Ever since Electronic Arts acquired the Canadian RPG developer, BioWare has become known for supporting its games post-release with DLC of mixed quality. They tested the grounds with Mass Effect first by providing players with two uninteresting downloadable content packs, each of lackluster quality - especially so when compared to the capacity of the original game. Then came Dragon Age: Origins and BioWare flooded it with optional DLC packs, most of which were equally dull. Mass Effect 2 stepped up the game by offering more free downloadable content and additional paid options. However, even that wasnt perfect, as the free things werent of the best calibre and even though Lair of the Shadow Broker was stellar stuff - It was too short for its price. Mass Effect 3 had a very poor start with the shocking on-disc DLC From Ashes, but BioWare has otherwise been keeping the game updated with a lot of decent and good quality content for free ever since. Leviathan is the first of the promised storyline DLC packs delivered by the company, so lets see how it fares.

REVIEW:
After the ending of Mass Effect 3, many players were left underwhelmed and unable to make sense of what happened. Everyone wanted to know more about the Reapers, their origins and what came before them - if not just to understand what the last 5 or 10 minutes of the game were all about, then simply out of a fans curiosity to learn more about the fascinating lore of the series. What Leviathan does marvellously is give players more insight on these issues, without spoiling too much and still managing to keep much of the mystery, and doing so through a superbly written and well-designed story. Leviathans plot starts with a message from Admiral Hackett, who has been running black ops on the pursuit of an evasive creature, known only as the Leviathan, recognized for killing Reapers.

Everyone in the Systems Alliance command who has been informed of the subject is well aware of its potential strategic value in the war against the Reapers, but no one has been able to track down the Leviathan. A human scientist, called Dr Bryson, has been investigating the matter for years and has recently come across something that could lead him right to the Leviathan. Hackett requests that Commander Shepard meet with Bryson and assist him in any way possible. Upon your arrival at the scientists lab on the Citadel, the situation takes an unexpected turn of events and leads Shepard on an exciting journey across a new part of the galaxy in search of the elusive Leviathan.

As we have come to expect from BioWare and the Mass Effect franchise, the writing here is stellar. Any fans of the series will likely find themselves hooked into this DLCs plot from the beginning, and it only gets more interesting after that. In traditional RPG fashion, the player is given plenty of choice during dialogue throughout the entirety of the adventure. Unfortunately, this choice does not affect the outcome or direction of the plot - which is understandable due to the importance of Shepards objective (though still a bit disappointing) - but it does affect the characters around Shepard and their fates. Speaking of which, all of the characters are well-voiced and an exceptional performance is given by Anthony Skordi. Even though the story content of Leviathan is brilliant, it is quite surprising that so much important game lore has once again been kept secret in order to later become available as paid DLC. Leviathans story really is great, but this should have been in Mass Effect 3 from the get-go and available to all for on additional cost.

From a gameplay perspective, Leviathan doesnt wander too far into the uncertain territory of novelty. The combat missions are fairly standard fare and match what youd normally expect from battles with Reaper forces after playing Mass Effect 3. There are some interesting detective like sections of gameplay where Shepard (with a bit of help from EDI) has to examine a safe area for clues and leads as to where she or he needs to head next in the search for Leviathan. These unusual gameplay segments are interesting, but it does seem like BioWare should have explored them further and in greater detail, so they end up being slightly disappointing in the long run. A very brief fragment of gameplay takes place underwater. Its a joy to play through and should have been longer, but excess length would have likely diminished its effect.

Even if Leviathan doesnt add that many new features to the already exciting gameplay of Mass Effect 3, it does create atmosphere exceptionally well. During the three main missions included in Leviathan, we get a chance to see some really spectacular environments. A mining colony on an asteroid protected by immense force fields, a desert wasteland with skies dominated by Harvesters or a planet covered entirely by oceans - all of these environments are created with fantastic attention to detail and highly impressive visuals, as well as a lot of jaw dropping dynamics. Each is also backed up by a stunning soundtrack and characters with convincing voice acting to create an amazing atmosphere for all of the locations in this DLC pack.

Lets summarize everything Leviathan has to offer:

GAMEPLAY - 8.5/10 (Great)
Leviathan doesnt add a lot to the gameplay formula, but it tries enough new approaches to keep things fresh and interesting.

STABILITY - 8/10 (Impressive)
My computer crashed once whilst playing this DLC, but this could have been just a random error with my hardware instead of the game. Other than that, there are no bugs beyond the usual, occasional glitches of Mass Effect 3.

STORY - 10/10 (Marvellous)
The plot answers many questions and creates a dozen new ones; it is well-written, well-presented, important to the series lore and backed by good characters.

GRAPHICS - 9/10 (Outstanding)
Each environment seen in this DLC looks spectacular, the visual style of Mas Effect 3 is further refined with new atmospheres and many new creative ideas.

SOUND - 9/10 (Outstanding)
The soundtrack consists of thrilling and diverse music that fits the action, the characters are all well-voiced and the audio effects are of a great standard.

LONGEVITY - 4/10 (Unsatisfactory)
This short DLC can be completed in a substandard time of 2 to 3.5 hours of gameplay and dialogue, depending on just how much you do in each area. Technically, this does double or triple if you plan to play through it with more than one character, but not everyone will.

BioWare has repeated the same mistakes that they have previously made with Lair of the Shadow Broker. Once again, we are presented with some stellar downloadable content but not enough of it. Leviathan can only last for a maximum of around 4 hours on the medium or higher difficulty settings from a completionists point of view, and that really isnt enough for the price of 800 BioWare points (around 6 UK pounds or 9.50 US dollars). If you are a big fan of the series, if youre dying to know more about the Reapers and their predecessors, then Id say go ahead and buy it when you have some spare money. Leviathan is a very well-made DLC and its worth it for a hardcore fan. However, there is very little content in it for such a high price, so if you think you can resist - then perhaps its best to avoid BioWares DLC altogether.

OVERALL RATING - 8/10 (Impressive)


I'm really finding it hard to sit down and write these reviews lately. Once I'm into it and writing, it's a piece of cake and I enjoy it but it just takes a bit of time. And finding the time, then the will, to sit down and write a review is becoming increasingly difficult for me. It's pretty much become almost like a chore, which is a shame - but I'll keep writing them, because I'm usually happy with the result and it helps to develop my reviewing and writing skills. I might need those in the near future, especially since this is my last year at secondary school.

Anyway, if you liked this review, please give me a thumbs up at:http://uk.gamespot.com/mass-effect-3-leviathan/user-reviews/806762/. As always: thanks very much for reading and have a nice day! :)

-Bamul