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Mass Effect 3: Leviathan boldly goes where no Shepard has gone before (preview)

Commander Shepard lives a charmed life. After saving the galaxy multiple times and romancing his or her way through the Normandy’s entire crew over three BioWare-developed games, not much is left for the celebrated Spectre to accomplish. Except for one thing: interstellar deep-sea diving.

Leviathan is the first piece of single-player downloadable content (DLC) for Mass Effect 3 since the Extended Cut, which was meant to address the game’s controversial ending, released in June. This adventure winds back the clock, taking place during the events of the main campaign, in which Shepard travels to an unknown part of the galaxy to investigate the truth behind a supposed Reaper-killing weapon.

At first, the demo given during EA’s Summer Showcase last week treads familiar ground: Shepard and crew find themselves in the middle of a firefight against husks and other not-so-nice aliens looking to stop you from finding the Leviathan. The enemies appear to pack quite a punch, as several members of the games press died trying to cross the seemingly deserted ship (pictured in the gallery below).

The EA representative on hand confirmed that fans might be “pleasantly surprised” at the increased difficulty level, adding that those who will buy the DLC probably finished playing through the story in Mass Effect 3. It took some time before our vanilla-flavored Commander Shepard was able to overcome a pair of brutes to claim his tantalizing prize: a Triton ADS mech suit of “questionable roots” that sports some heavy firepower.

After disposing of a seemingly endless wave of enemies while inside the Triton, Shepard dives deep into the ocean depths below. Suddenly, the mech’s visor lights up as the camera shifts into a first-person exploration segment, depth and pressure meters constantly ticking in your head-up display. Flares then shoot out from the suit’s arms, illuminating the rocky formations beneath you.

The demo came to an end shortly after this sequence, with the EA rep saying that the DLC is designed to find a “good balance” between combat and exploration. Mass Effect 3: Leviathan will be released sometime later this year for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

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