Sigh. This might prove to be one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever had to write.
I was optimistic for Factor 5’s Dragon flight-sim, Lair.
For months, when people would bash the PS3’s lineup, I would show them previews of the game.
“Just wait for Lair; it’ll change your entire perspective on the PS3,” I would tell them. I even went as far as to say it would be the system’s first big killer app. I’ll take my words with BBQ sauce and a side of shame please.
Not only is Lair not the “messiah of the PS3” I had touted it as to so many of my peers; it’s just plain not a good game.
Sure, the production values and cinematics are amazing, but that doesn’t make up for the game’s horrid control system, predictable story, repetitive game play and shameful combat system.
The premise of Lair is simple enough; fly around on a dragon, torching, clawing and devouring anything and everything in front of you. You play as Rohn, a member of the Asylian army, at war with the Mokai. Throughout the game, the story’s twists and turns prove to be very predictable.
The cut scenes are incredibly cinematic, and they show off what’s possible on the system — so we can forgive that.
What I can’t get over is just how horrid Lair’s control scheme is, especially considering it’s a flight-sim from the same studio that brought us the Rouge Squadron series. In an effort to highlight the PS3’s six-axis technology, movement is handled exclusively via tilt control. While it sounds great in theory, the six-axis proves to be more of a burden than blessing. Because of the limited motion sensing technology of the six axis, tight turns are next to impossible, causing your dragon to move slowly, which causes you to take more damage, which causes you to throw down your controller in a fit of rage.
To make matters worse, most of the levels are filled with canyons and other narrow passageways that require quick movement. Even the wide-open flying is tempered by invisible walls that disrupt the sense of freedom Lair should provide.
You would think it would be hard to mess up a bunch of dragons fighting, but Lair misses the mark on the combat as well. You can’t even choose which enemy you target. A white circle appears on the screen when an enemy is targetable. From here you have two options either hit the circle dive headfirst into your enemy or breathe fire at it.
Diving into an enemy initiates one of the most annoying slow motion sequences in recent memory. You can’t even control your character anymore, only the horizontal camera. The problem with this is that it completely ruins the chance for combo kills, as you can’t even see the enemies below or above you. With the other option, hit L1 or R1 and lock on to that enemy. This allows you to spit fire or pull up beside them and motion the six-axis towards them to ram them “Roman chariot” style.
The lock on targeting system falters heavily when used to take out ground targets. The ground is usually filled with an impressive amount of enemies, but you can’t select who you target. So if the game doesn’t notice who you want it to, you’re stuck trying to make a difficult 180-degree turn.
Lair is not a good game. Not simple enough? How about this — don’t play Lair…ever.
Sure, the visuals are extremely impressive, but the gameplay is a complete and total travesty. For a game that could have displayed the PS3 and the six-axis’s potential it merely serves to point out more flaws.
On another note — have you guys seen Little Big Planet? It will completely change your perspective on the PS3â€¦
Developer: Factor 5
Platform: Playstation 3
Launch Date: August 30, 2007