Are you ready to take on the mysterious Shadow Broker?Edit
As a huge fan of the Mass Effect series, I have been somewhat disappointed with all of the downloadable content offerings. While the characters have been interesting and the stories well-told, it felt like what happened didn't matter once it was all over. BioWare has changed that with its latest downloadable content – The Lair of the Shadow Broker. The first "bridging" DLC available, your actions do matter and will play a role in Mass Effect 3.The Lair of the Shadow Broker begins like any other mission in Mass Effect 2: an email in your inbox. Somehow the Illusive Man has tracked down intel on the location of the Shadow Broker, the galaxy's most mysterious and powerful information dealer. Since your good friend and former squad mate (also possible former lover) Liara T'Soni has been tracking him down for two years, Shepard rendezvous with her on Illium, and they embark on an adventure that's the best downloadable content for the game to date.
If you've read the comic series Mass Effect: Redemption, you'll already know all of the details surrounding this ordeal. But if you didn't, the game adequately sets up the situation for you. Liara's beef with the Shadow Broker stems from an incident shortly after the Normandy's destruction. Shepard's body had been retrieved from the icy planet on which it fell and the Shadow Broker possessed it, looking to make a decent sum of cash. To make things worse, the Broker's buyer just happened to be the Collectors. Not content with this outcome, Cerberus enlisted the help of Liara and a Drell named Feron, a double agent for the Shadow Broker, to recover Shepard's body so they could attempt the impossible: resurrecting the dead. Clearly they succeeded, but Feron was captured in the process and Liara has been plotting revenge ever since. Fast-forward to present day and it's up to you and Liara to track down the Shadow Broker and end him.
Clocking in around three hours, Lair of the Shadow Broker unravels the engaging tale at a great pace. Despite the dark themes of murder and betrayal, the conversation can be quite humorous. There are some really great moments between Shepard and Liara, and the storytelling effectively communicates the strong bond between the two, even if they weren't romantically involved in your game. Over the course of the story, it's clear that Liara has evolved from the shy girl Shepard met on Therum into a hardened woman struggling with her feelings of loss and guilt. To keep everything balanced, BioWare tossed in some self-deprecating material, including jabs about the Mako's wonky controls and using Omni-gel to open any door. Visually, Lair of the Shadow Broker boasts some really breathtaking environments. The cut-scenes are beautifully rendered and approaching the Shadow Broker's ship is simply stunning as lightning storms envelope the massive vessel.Of course, Mass Effect isn't all about the conversation and story -- it's about kicking ass, too. Since the whole idea behind Lair of the Shadow Broker is to showcase Liara and Shepard's relationship (romantic or not) the Asari joins your squad. While there are typical run-and-gun areas, what makes the combat satisfying here is the boss battles. Both bosses have unique traits that make them a formidable opponent. For example, the first person you'll encounter shoots around like a bullet out of a gun making he or she extremely hard to target. Though it's technically not a battle, there's also a debut action sequence -- a high-speed car chase through the skies of Illium. As someone who hates controlling vehicles in videogames, I have to say that the chase is actually a fun time. It's short enough to not overstay its welcome, the car controls decently, there's awesome music in the background, and some great banter between Shepard and Liara.
I have only one complaint about Lair of the Shadow Broker: it feels like this shouldn't be DLC, or at the very least should have been included as part of the Cerberus Network for those who purchased a new copy of Mass Effect 2. It's such a great story and could have such an impact on Mass Effect 3 that it's a pity a lot of people will miss out on it. As someone who also romanced Ashley and Kaidan, those romance stories do seem left out in the cold and reuniting with Liara made that even more obvious. However, the fact that this DLC exists makes me hopeful for more content focused on the other relationships.
If you haven't been interested in any of the previous DLCs because they only offered self-contained stories, start getting excited about Lair of the Shadow Broker. There are a few reasons to snag this and play through it immediately. First, this is the only downloadable content so far that will actually influence Mass Effect 3. Second, if you romanced Liara in the original game and want to re-kindle that flame you finally can. And third, there's a great narrative complemented by fun combat. If you can only afford one piece of extra content for Mass Effect 2, this is the one to spend your money on.