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It's not a secret that I'm a huge fan of Mass Effect 2. Although I didn't have a hand in voting it as the best Xbox 360 game to date, I certainly agree with the decision. That said, the downloadable content thus far has been self-contained, with seemingly little impact on the overarching storyline, which I found a little disappointing. Still, there have been some really great pieces. Kasumi's Stolen Memory and Overlord stand out as my favorites, but I have a feeling they'll both be usurped by the next bit of content: Lair of the Shadow Broker.

The first true bridging downloadable content BioWare has produced, Lair of the Shadow Broker will be playable at any point in your game after you travel to Illium. Because your decisions here will actually affect certain storylines in Mass Effect 3, and more importantly, you can finally resume your romantic relationship with Liara (if you successfully wooed her in the first game), this promises to be the best DLC for Mass Effect 2 to date. Lair of the Shadow Broker also houses more cut scenes and dialogue sequences than in any of the previous DLC offerings and will play out over a few hours. Yesterday I had the privilege of getting my hands on it for about 30 minutes, and that time left me wanting more.


There were two gameplay sequences that stood out to me during my time: the car chase through the city (highlighted in the trailer) and the first boss battle. When I first heard that there would be a car chase, I became nervous. I'm terrible at driving in games and I almost always fail missions on my first try. Thankfully, the section was forgiving and short, and I actually sort of enjoyed it. Weaving through city traffic to try and catch up with the other car reminded me of the movie The Fifth Element, and I'll admit that I've always wanted to drive a flying car. There was even humorous banter between Liara and Shepard to frame the chase, preventing it from taking too serious of a tone.

While the car chase was a brand new element, the boss battle I encountered was by no means revolutionary, but it did make me go, "Whoa." Holy mother of fast moving things, the enemy you face rivals The Incredible Flash. In the end, the baddie was no match for my team (which included Liara), but beating him or her wasn't easy, and Shepard almost died a few times when I couldn't find safe cover. If there are more boss battles like that throughout this add-on pack, then the combat segments will be sure to satisfy.

The storyline of Lair of the Shadow Broker is consistent with the darker tone of Mass Effect 2. Liara is no longer the naive girl prone to sequestering herself in Prothean dig sites. She's become noticeably hardened and hell-bent on getting revenge, and rightfully so. If you've read the Mass Effect: Redemption comic series following the actions of Liara after the Normandy SR-1 is destroyed, you'll already be caught up with her situation and motivation. If you haven't, the game sets up the circumstances for you, though not in as much detail.

My, what a big ship you have Shadow Broker.
To sum it up, Liara worked alongside her partner, Feron, and Cerberus to retrieve Commander Shepard's body from the Shadow Broker's possession before he could sell it to the Collectors. In the process, Feron was captured and Liara is hopeful that her former Drell partner is still alive on the Shadow Broker's ship. After years of tracking, Liara finally gets her big break – a Salarian named Sekat has discovered the location of the Shadow Broker. That's all I'll say story-wise to avoid spoiling the experience, but you can expect a well-written narrative with twists and turns.

This is the first DLC BioWare has released that I plan on playing through with my multiple Shepards, and I can't wait to reunite one of them with their former love. You won't have to wait long to get your hands on Lair of the Shadow Broker – it releases for Xbox 360 and PC next Tuesday, September 7 for 800 Microsoft points ($10).

Connections for Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker (X360)

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