Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker
|Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
|Release||September 7, 2010|
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, third-person shooter|
"Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker" is a downloadable content pack developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts for the action role-playing video game Mass Effect 2. It was released on September 7, 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360. The pack is included in the PlayStation 3 edition of Mass Effect 2, which was released on January 18, 2011. "Lair of the Shadow Broker" introduces a new mission in which the player assumes the role of Commander Shepard, an elite human soldier who must help former squad member Liara T'Soni to find an information dealer known as the Shadow Broker.
"Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker" was announced to be in development on July 22, 2010. BioWare stated that some decisions the player makes in the pack affect the story of Mass Effect 3. The pack received very positive reviews from critics, with an aggregate score of 87 out of 100 for the Xbox 360 version at Metacritic. Reviewers generally praised the narrative between the main characters and considered it the greatest downloadable content pack of the game.
Mass Effect 2 is an action role-playing game in which the player controls Commander Shepard. Shepard's gender, appearance, history and combat-training are determined by the player before the game begins. The game features a variety of missions that the player must complete to progress. "Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker" adds a new assignment that involves defeating enemies and interacting with NPCs. During the mission, Shepard is accompanied by two AI squad members that the player can indirectly control through orders. Combat takes place in real-time, but the player can pause the action at any time to calmly target enemies and select different powers for the squad members to use.
At one point in the mission, a new temporary squad member, Liara T'Soni, with a different set of powers joins the squad, and the player must choose who of the previous two members will remain for the rest of the mission. The relationship between Shepard and Liara can vary depending on whether they were romantically involved in the original Mass Effect. The mission includes two bosses and a chase scene in which the player must control a high-speed vehicle through the skies of a city. The player may also find numerous in-game upgrades that enhance aspects of the game's weapons and armor.
After completing "Lair of the Shadow Broker", a new location, the Shadow Broker's Base, becomes visitable. Inside the base, the player can use several terminals with numerous functions. Some terminals show surveillance footage, dossiers on Shepard's crew members, and a video archive which contains clips taken from around the galaxy. The player may also purchase mining manifests which are useful to mark mineral-rich planets on the game's Galaxy Map, and invest credits in various mini-missions which allow the player to receive upgrades and resources from the Shadow Broker's contacts, depending on the player's personal alignment. The pack also adds five new achievements that are awarded for completing specific tasks, such as completing the mission on one of the two highest difficulties.
"Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker" is set two years after the events of Mass Effect: Redemption. Elite human soldier Commander Shepard is sent on a mission to help former squad member Liara T'Soni find an information dealer known as the Shadow Broker. Liara asks Shepard to meet her at her apartment to discuss plans regarding the location of the Shadow Broker, but when Shepard arrives, the apartment is locked down. Asari agent Tela Vasir is conducting an investigation into Liara's disappearance. Shepard and Vasir learn that Liara went to an office building to meet with an informant. Upon arriving, the building is bombed, forcing Shepard and the squad to fight their way up from the bottom while Vasir lands on the roof of the building and proceeds downward. When Shepard reaches the office, Vasir is already there and Liara's contact is dead. Liara suddenly appears, pointing a gun at Vasir. She says that Vasir was the one who tried to kill her, and that the asari has the disk with the Shadow Broker's location, having taken it from the dead informant. In the ensuing confrontation, Vasir escapes but is pursued by Shepard and Liara, who manage to defeat her on the roof of a hotel.
Having recovered the disk from Vasir, Shepard and Liara learn that the Shadow Broker is based in a massive ship on a planet called Hagalaz. After fighting their way through the Brokers' agents, they rescue Liara's long-lost partner, Feron, who was imprisoned in the ship's prison cells after the events of Redemption. They finally reach the Shadow Broker's office, discovering him to be a Yahg, a little-known alien species. The Broker engages Shepard and Liara in combat, but is eventually killed. Liara now assumes the position of the Shadow Broker, and promises Shepard that she will turn the organization around. She also mentions that she will be able to provide Shepard with more information thanks to the Broker's extensive networks.
Development and release
"Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker" was developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts. During development of Mass Effect 2, Bioware stated that downloadable content was becoming a fundamental part of the company's overall philosophy. The pack was announced to be in development on July 22, 2010 with the release of three brand-new screenshots of the game. BioWare stated that the decisions players make in the pack would affect certain storylines in the then-upcoming Mass Effect 3. Animating the Shadow Broker's face was a challenge for the developers. According to BioWare, the game's default digital-acting system "could not handle the stresses of the new face, so custom work had to be done to animate his multiple eyes and triangular mouth." The pack was released on September 7, 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360. Like Mass Effect 2's earlier downloadable content packs "Kasumi - Stolen Memory" and "Overlord", "Lair of the Shadow Broker" is freely included in the PlayStation 3 edition of the game, which was released on January 18, 2011. The soundtrack was composed by Christopher Lennertz, who previously penned the music for the "Overlord" downloadable content.
"Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker" received very positive reviews from critics, who considered it to be the greatest downloadable content pack of the game. Dan Whitehead of Eurogamer considered "Lair of the Shadow Broker" "a solid, thrilling, satisfying addition to an already expansive universe; one that leaves you on an appropriate note of hopeful melancholy." He praised the amount of content in the pack, stating that it "adds far more to the game than some of its disappointingly slender predecessors." Game Revolution's Eduardo Reboucas said that the pack is "a blast, especially for fans who want to catch up with Liara and dissect the bits of story that were omitted in the main game."
The narrative and story were highlighted positively. Critics praised the fact that some decisions from the original Mass Effect impact the storytelling experience. Kristine Steimer of IGN stated that the storytelling "effectively communicates the strong bond between [Shepard and Liara], even if they weren't romantically involved in your game." The graphics received similar praise. Brad Gallaway, a reviewer for GameCritics, noted that they "make the action feel like a more organic part of the story and engage the player in some superb atmosphere." The exterior of the Shadow Broker's ship was seen by some critics as the most impressive battle environment of the pack. Steimer remarked that "approaching the Shadow Broker's ship is simply stunning as lightning storms envelope [sic] the massive vessel."
Maurice Tan of Destructoid highlighted the pacing and combat intensity, which requires players to pay attention to the flow of the battle more than usual. Kevin VanOrd of GameSpot stated similar pros, especially during the second portion of the mission. According to him, "enemies attack at just the right pace, so individual battles never drag on too long, nor are they over so quickly that they end up being unsatisfying." He also highlighted the vehicle chase scene, comparing it favorably to Blade Runner and The Fifth Element, but criticize the controls in the Xbox 360 version for not being very precise. The bosses received similar praise, with Steimer stating that both of them "have unique traits that make them a formidable opponent." The Shadow Broker's base was highlighted as a valuable addition to the game. Whitehead noted that marking mineral-rich planets alleviates the scanning, which was seen as a tedious feature in the main game. VanOrd concluded that "Lair of the Shadow Broker" is "worthy of your time (more than two hours) and your money." The pack was nominated for Best DLC (downloadable content) at the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards, but lost to Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare. It won the Inside Gaming Award for Best DLC.
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- BioWare. Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker. Scene: Liara's apartment. Level/area: Lair of the Shadow Broker.
Tela Vasir: About 25 minutes ago, someone took a shot at T'Soni. [...] She stuck around for almost four minutes before leaving the building. Whatever she was doing was important.
- BioWare. Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker. Scene: Dracon Trade Center. Level/area: Lair of the Shadow Broker.
Tela Vasir: They just took out three floors to make sure she's dead! I'll grab the skycar and seal off the building from the top! / Shepard: I'll start down here and work my way up.
- BioWare. Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker. Scene: Azure hotel. Level/area: Lair of the Shadow Broker.
Tela Vasir: Ugh. Damn it! Damn it. / Liara: Sekat's personal datapad. This has what we need to find the Shadow Broker.
- BioWare. Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker. Scene: Shadow Broker's Ship. Level/area: Lair of the Shadow Broker.
Liara: Hagalaz. The oceans boil during the day, then snap-freeze ten minutes after sundown. / Shepard: The Shadow Broker lives in this? / Liara: His ship follows the sunset. Completely undetectable in the storm, unless you know where to look.
- BioWare. Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker. Scene: Ending scene. Level/area: Lair of the Shadow Broker.
Shepard: Is taking over the Shadow Broker really a good idea? / Liara: It was either that or lose everything: his contacts, his trading sources. Those will really help us.
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