Upon hearing about the subject matter of the Liara focused DLC, I had several concerns about its narrative as well as the implications it would make upon Mass Effect 3. On one hand I felt that the Shadow Broker was too “big” of a character to be dealt with properly in a DLC. I felt that ultimately the Shadow Broker may get away in the end and the DLC would only amount to giving Shepard and Liara a glance at the Shadow Broker’s operations. On the other hand I was fearful that the DLC would quickly rush along and have the protagonists conquer the Shadow Broker once and for all. Without spoiling exactly what the Lair of Shadow Broker’s story covers, I can say that I’m extremely satisfied with the events of the add-on and what they mean for the Mass Effect story to come.
The Lair of the Shadow Broker has Commander Shepard receiving a intercepted transmissions of Shadow Broker operatives from Cerberus. This brings Shepard back to Illium to team up with his old crewmate Liara to attempt to uncover the Shadow Broker’s operations.
If you read the Mass Effect Dark Horse comics released earlier this year, Lair of the Shadow Broker deals with many of the story elements that took place in the comics, with Liara referencing the comic’s events and characters from the comic finally debuting in the game.
With the majority of the add-on taking place on Illium, fans will play through several new and gorgeous environments. The DLC stretches across six areas, with the later two being particularly unique and daunting. The environments along with character dialogue help set a tone of urgency and mystery that makes this mission standout from several of the missions found in Mass effect 2.
Apart from standard combat situations, Shepard and crew will also brave a vehicle driving level. This level doesn’t feature the new hammerhead vehicle, instead Shepard will have to navigate the skies of Illium using a flying car. This vehicle sequence is reminiscent of the chase scene on Coruscant in Star Wars Episode II. The driving sequence is also the place of a hilarious joke about the Mako. This joke is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to Mass Effect 1 references scattered throughout the add-on. There is another quip Commander Shepard makes in one of the later levels, referencing Mass Effect 1’s all purpose fix it, Omni-gel that is also quite funny.
For the first time in a DLC add-on for Mass Effect 2 the two party members that accompany Shepard are not entirely mutes! Miranda had one word of dialogue that I believe was probably lifted from a previous mission and inserted into this particular cutscene. Having Liara as a party member for a portion of the mission, with regular dialogue, helps make up for the silent teammates.
In additional to having Liara back for a portion of the mission, Lair of the Shadow Broker has several excellent cutscenes as well as Commander Shepard’s first meeting with a Spectre since Saren in Mass Effect 1. A new species also makes their debut in Mass Effect 2 that rival the Krogan’s intensity and size. After the mission has been completed there are some bonus cutscenes, dialogue options, videos and extras for each crew member and supporting characters in the Mass Effect universe.
Lair of the Shadow Broker is exactly the kind of Mass Effect 2 add on I want to play. It offers a great story featuring old crew members, as well as new revelations that impact the Mass Effect story from this point forward. The locales that are featured are new and exciting and the pacing of the story and gameplay are excellent. Lair of the Shadow Broker as a standalone mission presents a stronger, more interesting story than the majority of missions on the Mass Effect 2 discs. Also is it a hell of a lot of fun to play and I cannot recommend it more.
This review is based on a downloadable copy of the 360 version of Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker.