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Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker

by Logan

September 9, 2010

Storywise, I'll reserve saying much in the interest of spoilers, but it's pretty satisfying. Any questions you have are certainly answered and it creates a lot of interesting threads to be expanded upon in future DLC and Mass Effect 3. On the technical standpoint, a lot of care was taken to craft all of the environments and they're certainly eye-catching. It seems that BioWare has invested a lot of time into ensuring that all of their DLC is better and more appealing than the already stellar main game. The last thing I've come to expect from ME2 is the music and LotSB certainly doesn't disappoint. With a couple of awesome new tracks and some well placed Mass Effect 1 music, this package is aesthetically pleasing to all of your senses.

Of course, all of this doesn't matter if it doesn't play well, and there's certainly no need to worry in that regard. The game itself already plays air-tight and there are no snags in this campaign that make it any less enjoyable. While most of it is standard fare, there are a couple of honest-to-God boss fights scattered in that are absolutely fantastic. If I could levy one legitimate knock on ME2, it would be that any of the so called "boss" encounters were usually rather drab and basically boiled down to fighting an enemy with a lot more health. LotSB changes all of this with some boss fights that are interesting, challenging, and downright fun. This is a welcome change in my book and I'd love to see them incorporate this sort of encounter into future titles. There's even a sci-fi action movie inspired sky chase thrown in for good measure. The chase itself isn't lengthy or challenging by any stretch of the imagination, but it was certainly a nice change of pace. Long story short, Mass Effect 2 plays great, and any additions made in this expansion only enhance the experience.

The only complaint I've had with recent DLCs is how they feel so hollow and lifeless compared to the game itself. In previous entries, squadmates were uncharacteristically quiet and any story contained to the packs felt like they took place in a vacuum with no bearing on the story whatsoever. Well, it's clear that BioWare was listening, because they've certainly taken great steps to rectify this in LotSB. While your other members still remain mute for the most part, Liara and Shepard have a lot of interesting dialogue. It's carefully done and sincere in the more dramatic moments and jovial while being actually funny at others. Your immediate squad and Liara aside, supporting characters are also fleshed out and there's actually some intrigue and background that surrounds them. This does wonders for the mythos of the game and keeps these people from simply being remembered as "The DLC guys." The conclusion adds some neat features and ends on a truly fantastic note that is part nostalgia and part tease. All in all, this leads to a much richer experience that makes the DLC feel less like a sideshow attraction and more like the main event.

In the end, I was extremely impressed with this DLC entry. It lived up to the promises it made and has something for everyone. Whether you're a diehard Mass Effect fan who has been jonesing for his or her fix for months, or you're just a newcomer who's been wanting to dip his feet in, this is the pack you've been waiting for. At 800 Microsoft/BioWare points (10 dollars), it's certainly pricier than the others, but it's worth every penny in my eyes. It's by far the best DLC yet and it gives great hope for future content. The Mass Effect 2 team's desire to listen to the fans and use that feedback to improve the game enhances the experience tenfold. Dedication like this to improving their product is what makes the Mass Effect games so great and what gives the franchise such a bright future.


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