Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker Review

I reviewed the last bit of DLC for Mass Effect 2 previously. Overlord offered a solid and enjoyable new mission but my complaints were mostly with the cost and with its overall lack of relevance to the story. In a story driven RPG, it isn’’t unreasonable to desire post-release content to expand the story.

The Lair of the Shadow Broker’s major initial strength is that it continues one of the story arcs opened up (to those that paid attention) in the first game. It also of course includes everyone’s favorite blue alien, Liara.*

The Shadow Broker certainly interested me but Liara doesn’t really. I actually find her ridiculous as a character and the Asari ridiculous as a race. An all female, slim, lusty-busty alien race, who appear to be completely hairless and apparently don’t need any help with the kids. That’s silly enough but then when you look around the game world; you find that they seem to cater to many fetishes from the exotic dancers, to the shy yet sexually explorative and the cougars and Amazon-like warrior classes. I think this description of the race should explain why I have found most of the scenes involving Asari to be merely amusing man-child wet dreams.

If you are coming to this DLC to discover why Liara completely changed between games and especially in the comic mini-series then I think you will be disappointed with the reason. If you are going in to continue the relationship and you actually take the dialogue between Liara and Shepard seriously then you should be pretty happy although you won’t be seeing any extra blue skin.

The actual gameplay itself is fairly pedestrian. Most of it of course involves cover-based battling which I am actually pretty fed up with now. There is a new vehicle section in the streets… err… skies of Illium which was cool but way too short. It is definitely something that they should consider expanding for Mass Effect 3 though. There is also more of that branching dialogue and a few more paragon/renegade moments.

Probably the coolest addition is what you get at the end which I don’t want to spoil but it involves some interesting data logs that should be entertaining to anyone who enjoyed the dialogue with squad members in Mass Effect 2. Throughout the campaign there is some entertaining banter between Liara and Shepard which will be particularly good for those who played the first game.

Unlike the other pieces of DLC, this one has dealt with something that will be relevant in Mass Effect 3. If they use it properly, it won’t just be the shallow dialogue or the unlikely meetings we got in Mass Effect 2 but something tangible to the main plot. My criticism about pricing still remains even though this one is bigger and better; the 800 point asking price seems a bit much. Something that should also be kept in mind is the size (about 1.5gigs) which affects me with my 60gig and perpetually full hard drive. The game itself should last you at least two hours unless you play on Casual and run through it.

Even though this is bigger, better and should be (but may not be) very relevant to Mass Effect 3, I would still only recommend this to the “buy everything” Mass Effect crowd and additionally to those who just really like Liara and want to make sure you can have blue babies in Mass Effect 3.

Something additionally I would like to consider is just how far we’ve come with DLC. A review I read for the original Mass Effect’s first DLC, Bring Down the Sky, criticized both its length and cost (400 points). It is interesting that this content and even the far less enjoyable second release were both cheaper and yet about the same length as the current releases for Mass Effect 2 and we are much more prepared to accept it.

*As I contemplated this while writing I realized my favorite blue alien is actually Max Rebo

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