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Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker Review

Eduardo_Reboucas By:
Eduardo_Reboucas
09/17/10
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE RPG 
PLAYERS
PUBLISHER Electronic Arts 
DEVELOPER BioWare 
RELEASE DATE  
M What do these ratings mean?

I miss the days when a little omni-gel would fix anything!


It's already been said many times that Mass Effect 2 was an epic ride. Anyone that played it to completion, though, must have noticed that there were a lot of unfinished plot threads left unresolved by the end of the game. Fortunately for us Mass Effect fans, The Lair of the Shadow Broker finally closes one of those threads, possibly the most disconcerting one from the main story: Liara T'soni.

click to enlargePlayers who have never delved into the first Mass Effect but who have played through Mass Effect 2 might be scratching their heads as Liara T'Soni's place, since her role in the second game is practically a cameo. But fans of the original know better. Liara was one of Mass Effect's main characters and possibly one of the more interesting personas in that story. Her role shifted dramatically in Mass Effect 2, with her involvement in the retrieval of Shepard's corpse after the dramatic intro of Mass Effect 2 and her relentless pursuit of the infamous Shadow Broker. Fans of the original Mass Effect aren't strangers to the name, since the Broker was mentioned in a set of side missions inside the Citadel, but nothing more.

Interestingly enough, The Lair of the Shadow Broker is so far the only Mass Effect 2's downloadable content that makes sense to be played after the main story has concluded. I will not go into detail for obvious reasons, but safe to say, you get a short message telling you to take a trip to Illium, Mass Effect 2's answer to Star Wars' Coruscant, and meet with your Asari buddy Liara. From there, you get to play through some exciting segments, some of which are absolutely stunning to look at and hasn't been seen in a Mass Effect game so far.

click to enlargeThis two- to three-hour affair is Mass Effect 2's best downloadable content. Character interactions and dialogue are extremely well-written, and the events that take place with Liara by your side are must-not-miss content for anyone with a remote interest in Mass Effect 2. The little touches of humor in Shepard and Liara's banter during tense situations are an awesome little bonus and add to their extensive backstory that is thankfully not directly addressed in a cliché way, like some sort of flashback scene. This DLC takes into account that you probably know who Liara T'soni is and don't need a cheesy movie to remind you of what she means to the overall story.

Everything isn't rosy (or "violet-y", in this case), though. There is a strange objective around the beginning of the DLC when the mission text instructs you to follow a certain character... who is just standing beside you. Thankfully, the confusion only lasted a few minutes and is hardly a blemish to an otherwise epic set of missions.

There's also plenty to fiddle with once you're done with the story. If your version of Shepard had a special relationship with Liara in the first game, that subplot can be tied up. You also get a chance to muck around the Shadow Broker's network of information trafficking. There's a surprisingly funny set of squad-mate reports that show some secrets, if not totally bizarre traits, you would not expect from your buddies. It's an added incentive to stop by and visit after all's said and done with the story.

click to enlargeBioware reports this DLC will be one of the cornerstones of what will be carried over to Mass Effect 3. The information wasn't too clear as to what would carry over to the next game in the series, considering the wealth of little decisions that were taken into account when importing a Mass Effect character into the second game. I kept with my Renegade-with-a-heart-of-solid-gold Shepard persona for the most part, even if I missed having the chance to just shoot my way out of situations with a little right-trigger action. In the end, this DLC might play a little differently for a Paragon character but that just might be the 'grass is greener on the other side' kicking in. Or maybe it was just that my Shepard build didn't really have a previous romantic relationship with Liara.

Either way, The Lair of the Shadow Broker is a blast, especially for fans who want to catch up with Liara and dissect the bits of story that were omitted in the main game. The set pieces are gorgeously done and the pacing is perfect, even if it breezes by rather quickly. This DLC feels much more in tune with the main story than any other content pack so far and makes me think of what other plot threads our Canadian friends over at Bioware might still have in store for future downloadable content. If Shadow Broker is any indication of the quality content you can get for ten space bucks (800 MSP), it might be worth keeping your copy of Mass Effect 2 close by just in case.
A- Revolution report card
  • You can't go wrong with more Liara
  • Beautiful set pieces
  • Epic story and game flow
  • Ties into both Mass Effect games
  • Very few problems with mission texts
  • Just might tie into Mass Effect 3...
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