I've been following Mass Effect 2 DLC since its release (read my reviews of Kasumi – Stolen Memory, the free Firewalker DLC pack, and Overlord) and while I enjoyed Overlord, you still walked away from the experience with nothing more than an upgrade and some achievements. Lair of the Shadow Broker is different with a unique payoff on completion that gives you a reason to re-visit the content post-mission as well as successfully bridging the narrative of Mass Effect 3. It's a fantastic addition to the Mass Effect universe as the cycle for sequel DLC fades in transition for future Mass Effect games.
The story revolves around the Shadow Broker, the enigmatic head of a universe-wide clandestine organization that deals in information; if it's out there, the Shadow Broker has his fingers involved with it. He's also not the nicest dude, and while there's deep nerd stuff on why that is (read the Mass Effect Redemption comic for more), to keep it simple, the mission has Commander Shepherd helping an old friend, Liara, rescue her old friend, all while putting a stop to the Broker's way of doing business.
Naturally, not everything goes to plan and the missions devolve into some standard run-and-gun but with new twists. Enemies will use flashbangs defensively, first seen in the Kasumi missions, and there is one breathtaking action sequence on the hull of a spaceship that leverages the environment during a firefight in an interesting way. You'll also engage in a skycar chase straight out of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and face off against a boss never seen before in the ME universe. And yes, doing all of that is fun, with lots of character interaction, story elements and solid combat, but it was what happens after the finale that sold me.
Unfortunately, I can't go into much detail without spoiling the end of the mission, but suffice it to say that it doesn't end with the boss battle, and instead, it can continue well after the mission has been finished. For every other piece of DLC, there's no need to re-visit the mission but with Lair of the Shadow Broker, there's very specific incentives that change the game for the future. Granted, it's at a late stage, but it's as if Bioware has started to figure out the true compelling hooks of DLC content. If Lair was bundled as part of Cerberus Network instead of Zaaed's cheap loyalty mission or the Normandy crash site, I can only imagine what amazing things would have come next.
So while Lair of the Shadow Broker is the most expensive Mass Effect 2 DLC yet, ringing in at 800 MS points, it's well worth it for those that want to meet this elusive figure, re-kindle a relationship with a former friend/lover or have access to some game changing elements for future replay.
The Verdict: Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker
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