Thursday, 16 September 2010

Review: Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker (360)

When the Mass Effect franchise was first announced back in 2006 the fans who grew to love the universe were promised dlc which would ever expand that universe. Unfortunately, Bioware failed to properly deliver on the first game, with two very different dlc packages, both of which frankly didn't offer very much in terms of expansion. Since then Bioware have gone back to the drawing board with Mass Effect 2, learning from the mistakes of Mass Effect by releasing a combination of free and premium content which has way surpassed the scant offerings featured in the first game.

The latest offering though, Lair of the Shadow Broker is probably the best and most satisfying piece of dlc I have ever played, expanding on the Mass Effect story in ways fans would have been hoping for. The dlc continues the story of Liara T'soni, a former team mate of commander Shepherd, and ties directly with the Mass Effect mini series, Mass Effect Redemption; a four issue comic series published by Dark Horse Comics.

Concluding a story arc which was started in Mass Effect redemption, in which Liara is desperately seeking payback against an entity known as the Shadow Broker, this expansion finally gives us the chance to confront that mysterious foe. The adventure you have getting to that point however, is not only challenging combat wise but also features all the elements which have made Mass Effect 2 possibly the best RPG of this year.

The story is of course, emotionally compelling - so much more so if your Shepherd had a relationship with the Asari doctor in Mass Effect, as you have an opportunity to continue their relationship, and the combat suitably polished.

With two satisfying boss battles, one especially so if your character class is Vanguard, the dlc rivals segments from the main Mass Effect 2 story. As for fan service, other than rekindling a relationship with Liara there is a ton of Mass Effect references that more than once caused me to laugh out loud, especially the part about the omni-gel.

Overall, as far as Lair of the Shadow Broker goes, this in imho is the best piece of DLC yet released by any publisher or developer so far, and the cost is spot on. At 800 Microsoft Points you wouldn't expect a full expansion, but with the play time coming in at around 3 hours, and plenty of end game tid-bits to laugh over, this is an essential download for any Mass Effect 2 owner.


Leon Goldstone, Contributor

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