Mass Effect 2 is an amazing game, though most of its previous downloadable offerings have not quite lived up to that same standard. The main recurring problem with its previous DLC installments was that they all felt a little awkward from a narrative standpoint. They were obviously intended to be played during the progression of a normal playthrough, not after the main story had already been completed. Kasumi, for example, gets excited to join your suicide mission, but if you’ve already beaten the game before you played the Kasumi’s Stolen Memories DLC, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Does Lair Of The Shadow Broker fall into this same trap, or does it succeed where previous add-ons have faltered?
Lair of the Shadow Broker sees Commander Shepard teaming up with his old friend (and potential romantic interest from Mass Effect 1) Liara T’soni. Though she mentions some of her troubles during the main story if you visit her on Illium, you never really got to the heart of the issue until now. Thankfully, the Illusive Man being the resourceful fellow that he is, has provided you with a way to track down the galaxy’s most feared and mysterious seller of information, the Shadow Broker.
The gameplay here is mostly the same as it is in the main game. You have conversations with people, make branching decisions and get into some pretty hectic firefights. The new environments are well designed and will take you from fancy, high-rise apartments on Illium to the Shadow Broker’s flying base. Walking on the outside of the Shadow Broker’s ship is a pretty breathtaking experience full of moving parts, swirling lightning storms and intense fighting. It’s easily one of the best looking parts in the entire game. A new addition to the gameplay is a chase sequence that has you dodging skyscrapers and air traffic. It’s surprisingly fun, doesn’t overstay its welcome and serves as a good way to break up some of the on-foot action. There are a couple of boss fights thrown in, too, and they are both challenging and different from the sort of bosses found in the main game.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Mass Effect without plenty of dialogue and decisions to make. The voice acting is uniformly excellent and the dialogue is well written and often quite funny, particularly during firefights. One part has you defending your position while you wait for an automatic lock to open. Shepard humorously shouts, "Remember the good old days when you could just slap omnigel on everything?". It’s an amusing nod to those who played the first game and is typical of the great dialogue you’ll hear in Lair of the Shadow Broker. The music is also fantastic. Jack Wall’s score continues to impress with sweeping orchestral themes that set a great tone for the game.
Once you’ve completed Lair of the Shadow Broker’s narrative, there are still a number of things to do. You’ll be able to finance jobs for Shadow Broker operatives, purchase the locations of planets rich in minerals, watch video feeds from all over the galaxy (with new additions each time you visit) and even learn a bit more about your squad mates through intelligence dossiers. Everything from Miranda’s online love life to Thane’s typical kill methods to Legion’s stats for the in-game MMO, Galaxy of Fantasy. These little details are funny and well worth the time it takes to browse through them all.
Lair of the Shadow Broker is easily the best DLC available for Mass Effect 2. It is also the only one that is actually meant to take place after beating the main game and thus fits in perfectly, avoiding the pitfalls of previous add-ons while helping to bridge the gap between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3. The decisions you make will even have an impact on Mass Effect 3. Hell, the only criticism I can really level against it is that wasn’t part of the main game. It feels so well produced that it easily could have been. Clocking in at about 3 hours, it’s well worth your $10 to play Lair of the Shadow Broker and will satisfy any Mass Effect 2 fan.
Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker was released on September 7th, 2010 for Xbox 360 and PC. Review was published retroactively, based on the Xbox 360 version.