Mass Effect 2 is by far one of the best examples of post-game support. Bioware has demonstrated that they continue to take interest in their released products, by filling in the gaps and wrapping up the untold stories. Lair of the Shadow Broker is by far some of the best work that they have done, picking up the story of Liara T’Soni, the woman who you (could have chosen to) have a romantic interest in from the first game, and her hunt for the infamous Shadow Broker. This story had an emotional tie to me, because I did romance Liara in the original game. This epic piece of downloadable content wraps up this tale quite well, and closes the story on your relationship with Liara.
The premise of these missions is pretty simple: through your contacts at Cerberus, you find new Intel that reveals the supposed location of the Shadow Broker’s base. You take this information to Liara, and she is immediately interested. She also reveals that her friend, Feron, has been captured by the Shadow Broker. So, what started as an investigative and story of revenge turns into a rescue mission. Liara teams up with you for the duration of the missions, starting with new areas around Illium, her new home base, and then continuing in the Shadow Broker’s “lair”. The story has many twists and turns, and always keep you guessing. A few characters from the main game return aside from your team and Liara, and each adds new personalities to the story. The story kept me very intrigued, and I wanted to push forward instead of exploring the environments. The missions are very linear until you reach the end, and then you can explore certain areas over again for new information.
The game play doesn’t deter too much from the original formula of shoot and use biotics first and ask questions later. They do add some new missions into the mix, such as an investigative mission, as well as a “defend the objective” style mission. They also add an amazing twist on the game play in the way of a speeder chase. I don’t want to spoil too much, but it reminded me a lot of the speeder chase in the city from Star Wars Episode II. All of these little additions make the game play feel overall fresh, while still keeping the building blocks that made this game so amazing in the first place.
The game play is overall is also very action oriented, and is never dull. There is always something to shoot and somewhere to go. This is helped by some of the new enemy types and boss battles added by the DLC. Some of the normal cannon fodder includes similar enemy types of the main game with new skins, but the two boss battles at the half way point and at the climax of the mission are some of the most epic and unique boss encounters in the entire game.
They also add some new environments as I mentioned earlier, and some are definitely one of a kind. This truly shows how amazing of an art team that Bioware has, as every time they release a new DLC, each environment is new and unknown, which never allows the scenery to get stale. This also adds to the graphical fidelity of the game, as it continues to be gorgeous. The character animations and atmosphere of the environments just create and overall intense and wondrous feeling for the game, and is still some of the best work I have ever seen in the industry.
Continuing to add to the atmosphere and overall tone of the game is how emotional the cut scenes are. They have once again outdone themselves, and you truly feel for all the characters and how their lives are playing out. You and Liara have a lot of history (if you took the path I took) and you eventually are able to catch up, which is where the emotion comes in. Again, I don’t want to spoil that much, because if you are like me, you are definitely wanting to check out this DLC because of your character’s relationship with Liara.
The only gripe I have with the content is the same that I have had with the other Mass Effect 2 DLC, and is that it is meant to be played before you finish the game. It can be kind of annoying to go to an older save which took place before the main mission to be able to play the newest content. It just doesn’t feel like a continuous story. So, my recommendation is that you should play this DLC as well as the main game at the same time, as it leads to a more complete experience. However, it is still very worth it to play it even after you have finished the main game, because again it is one of the best set of missions in the Mass Effect universe.
As a whole, Lair of the Shadow Broker is amazing. They mix up the pace and give the game a fresh feel, while still holding true to what makes it one of my top choices for my game of the year. I can’t say enough good things about this downloadable content, so I will state it like this: If you own Mass Effect 2, you need to buy this DLC. The emotional cut scenes, the epic boss battles, the chance to continue a relationship with one of my favorite characters all made it worth it to spend the eight hundred points.