Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker

FeatureMass Effect: The Stories So Far

Reap the spoilers: a review of the wider universe of books, comics and add-ons...

Looking forward to Mass Effect 3? Of course you are. If you've only played the first two games, though, you've barely scratched the surface of BioWare's amazing sci-fi universe. There are books, comics and of course, a whole stack of downloadable add-ons that fill in the gaps, take you to places Shepard doesn't get to go, and explain details you may have missed - like exactly why everyone hates Cerberus so much. But which ones are worth your time, which are essential if you want to appreciate the full story, and which can be skipped? We've checked them all out. For you.

Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker

Nine months after launch, and Mass Effect 2 finally has a DLC offering to compare with Dragon Age: Awakenings. Not in terms of size – Lair of the Shadow Broker still takes the best part of an evening to polish off – but as a showcase for the strengths of both parent game and BioWare itself. This is a solid, thrilling, satisfying addition to an already expansive universe; one that leaves you on an appropriate note of hopeful melancholy.

It starts with a slow burn, though. The Illusive Man drops you a line saying that he's found some info on the mysterious Shadow Broker, the information dealer who retrieved your space-blasted body, and whom your former ally Liara T'Soni wants dead. From that simple beginning, it's off to Ilium to meet with Liara and things quickly take on a conspiratorial tone.

It's a testament to just how well this miniature story plays out that I find myself retreating from anything that feels remotely spoiler-like even at this early stage. Suffice to say that it pulls off a near-perfect balancing act, finding room for all the elements that Mass Effect 2 excels at while maintaining an energetic forward momentum. There are some fun conversation options, a little investigate work, some blistering corridor gunplay, and at least two epic stand-offs where enemies pile on from all sides. Add in two enjoyable boss fights and you've got an experience that is much more varied and substantial than its short playing time suggests.

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