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Platform

Playstation 3

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

Factor 5

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

August 31, 2007

 

 

- The concept and productions values are awesome

- Satisfying ground combat

 

 

- Control is iffy at the best of times if you're unwilling to really commit to learning them

- The frustration that results from the control (75% of the written review is about the control)

 

 

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Lair

Score: 6.0 / 10

 

Flying around on the back of the dragon has a certain appeal.  And for me, that appeal is very hard to ignore.  Who wouldn’t want to fly a dragon around blowing stuff up with spurts of fire then land on the ground and wipe out puny human troops?  It’s an awesome setup but one that is scorched with “innovative” controls which are not only difficult to master but can be downright annoying at times.

 

lair          lair

 

At its most basic description, Lair makes the sixaxis controller into the reigns of the dragon.  So, steering right and left is a matter of tilting the controller left or right – but since you’re on the back of a huge beast the turning feels sluggish.  No

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problem, that actually makes some sense, but as things happen during the heat of battle it’s very hard to squelch the desire to jerk the controller quickly to make some kind of evasive maneuver, which will only confuse the sixaxis.  Suddenly you’ll perform a 180-degree turn and get completely thrown off course.  The fact there’s no “dragon radar” and the only thing you have 

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to rely on to navigate through the larger world is a small arrow at the top of the screen – it only confuses matters further.  Another complaint is that it’s very easy to mess up on objectives; some levels you will repeat many, many times until success is achieved.  It’s not that the level is difficult, it’s just getting yourself into proper position can be a very tricky (i.e. frustrating) proposition.  The real kick here is that there’s no way to turn off the motion control!

 

Combat on the ground is much more satisfying; unfortunately the sense of scale is completely lost during these battles.  Developer Factor 5 obviously put in a lot of work creating massive set pieces, almost to the point that you wish there weren’t any objectives and you could just fly around and check things out.  From ground level though it’s not as awe inspiring, as good looking as Lair is overall.

 

lair          lair

 

With Lair, Factor 5 has created an interesting fantasy world, complete with a back story.  I could see more “dragon riding” games crop up thanks to the look and feel of Lair. (The sound design supporting everything is awesome!)  There’s always room for improvement though.  In a nod to role-playing and racing games, I would have liked an option to outfit my dragon with wicked tattoos or armor.  A little customization would go a long way.  (Not having it doesn’t knock off any points from the score.)

 

In general, the gateway to enjoying any game is the control.  It may have the flashiest graphics, it may present all sorts of new gameplay innovations, and it may have an engrossing story, but without accessible and reliable controls… you don’t have a game that’ll keep you coming back for the pure enjoyment of it.  And that’s the case with Lair.  I commend Factor 5 for putting it out there and trying something different, but unless you’re willing to exercise a lot of patience with the controls, you won’t eke out much enjoyment.

 

- Omni

(November 2, 2007)

 

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