Lair

Posted by staff | Posted in PS3 Games | Posted on 30-06-2010

5

  • Struggle on an epic scale as your civilization repels the onslaught of an unrelenting army
  • Unleash your might through large-scale battles that span across both the sky and the ground
  • Turn the tides of war with your ferocious dragon – Scorch the ground with flames and command the skies against vicious enemies
  • Immerse yourself in a living, breathing world of voracious beasts, a deep storyline and visceral gameplay
  • Fully supports the PlayStation 3 motion sensitive controller

Product Description
LAIR PS3… More >>

Lair

Comments posted (5)

By now all of the back and fourth between “This game is epic!” and “This game is epic fail!” is probably giving those of you who are considering Lair a few headaches. A lot of press reviewers hate it, a lot of user reviewers love it, the creator of Bioshock defended it and there are mixed reviews abroad. The controversy is mainly around the controls/gameplay so that will be my focus, primarily sticking to the technical details. I picked up this game on clearance at a local retailer since they had it on clearance and I will do my best to collect the facts together from my experiences since simply yet another opinion might not be too helpful at this point.

First and foremost, as action oriented as this game is, it is NOT for the impatient. The title does not lend itself well to anyone who feels it shouldn’t be necessary to put effort into liking a game. I’ll explain in a bit.

Julian Eggebrecht (the game’s Director) mentioned in an interview with G4 that, unlike Factor 5’s previous games, the dragon you fly has real weight and physics attached to the flight simulations thanks to the PS3’s super-de-duper Cell processor. They wanted banking to “feel heavy” when using the Sixaxis controller as your dragon’s fat rump flings through the air across your screen. What this means is that the beast is not ever going to turn on a dime, even if your Sixaxis will. Needless to say, turning an intense action game into a fantasy flight simulator pushes up the learning curve considerably, let alone adding an extra level of skill required to line up even the simplest of shots.

Motion Control:

How the Sixaxis flight controls actually function is more absolute than relative. If you want your dragon to fly straight, you hold the controller level and if you want to pull up, you tilt the controller up. While this sounds pretty straightforward on the surface, what often throws me off is the “absolute” nature of this. If you want to keep pulling up, you have to keep the controller held vertically and if you want to hold a nose dive you have to hold the face of the controller away from you for as long as you want to hold the dive. If they were to make this more like other flight-sims, tilting the controller up would control the rate-of-change rather than the absolute angle. Having played a handful joystick flight-sims I found myself leveling out the controller at times I wanted to hold my incline or descent, but ended up leveling out myself instead. Horizontal banking is a bit more intuitive even with its absolute nature so long as you do not mind the massive delay for your overweight, infantry munching dragon to respond to the Sixaxis’ orientation.

Before the patch, there were a couple of waggle functions I did not particularly like at all. Thrusting the controller forward would effectively be a speed boost. Quickly lifting the controller upward would do a midair 180. The problem is the game only understood my gestures three out of four times and every once in a while it would confuse which gesture I was trying to perform. Also, there is a full second delay after you perform the gesture before the dragon performs the action. Having motion controls for these also disturbs your flight control for obvious reasons.

After the patch, they bound those two waggle functions to D-Pad Left for 180 and D-Pad Right for boost (those buttons were previously unassigned). I find these to be much more responsive and predictable. The motion for 180 remains, but they took out motion control for boost to avoid any input confusion.

Analog Control:

I have played with the motion controls for quite a bit (I do not want to say “extensively”) before that 245MB Lair patch landed on PSN. So how does the analog controls compare to the default Sixaxis? Let’s just say that after toying with the analog mode in a previously played mission to get a feel for it, I jumped straight into the Hard flight course and beat my previous best time by 30 seconds. While the dragon still maneuvers like a starving whale, I had a MUCH easier time actually flying *through* the rings. Thinking “maybe I’m just getting used to the physics of the game” I went back and did the course again with the sixaxis. Try as I might, I could not even beat my previous best let alone come anywhere near what I did with the analog.

The kicker for me was that I actually know what the extremities are on the analog stick because I know how the analog stick works. With the sixaxis I kind of have to pick an angle and just kind of hope my dragon does what I want it to do in due time. If you’re patient, the tilt controls can be fun, but if you’ve watched the “mastering the beast” video on Amazon page for this very product, I would say those developers were drinking the kool aid if they honestly felt they could remove the analog controls from the game when the Sixaxis was introduced to them by Sony.

In the same interview with Eggebrecht that I’ve mentioned earlier, the Director felt that the controversy was that gamers were more or less set in their ways because novices liked the tilt controls and the core gamers didn’t. I think the real story here is that the novice gamers don’t really know what they were missing and were just stoked that they could control a dragon by moving a controller around. While I do feel the sixaxis control in Lair could be improved, it doesn’t really end there.

Targeting:

Any target that enters your dragon’s direct line of sight gets a subtle white glow on it, hitting R1 or L1 will lock on and the glow will turn red to indicate as such. While locked-on your camera will always face the target regardless of which way you are flying, though you will generally orbit any target you are locked on to. Your dragon will autoaim on anything with the white glow without having to lock on which is extremely handy.

The quirk here is that there are a LOT of any potential targets on any given battlefield and it’s very easy to switch to an unwanted target the very second you hit the shoulder button. Advisably, you should only lock on to standouts like objectives, turrets or the tougher dragons you wish to execute take downs on. Trying to target everything you strike will give seizures to players with even the mightiest constitution.

The patch added an option to turn on Crosshairs which produces a Starfox style reticle. I highly suggest using this because it instantly cleared up how the heck the game was picking its targets as well as having the sixaxis control actually make some degree of sense.

If you think that’s a lot to forgive, it is. There is an enjoyable game to be found here, but like I said, it’ll require patience.. even at half the price. If you think these quirks are minor enough for you to give it a try, well.. there’s more.

Missions:

Without giving too much away, various missions do offer variety, but most of them will have you fending off several fronts at once without a good way at letting you know which forces need to be prioritized, so it is largely a game of trial and error the first run through.

There is an arrow that vaguely points to the direction of your current objective and it only appears if the game thinks you are ridiculously lost. If you are anywhere near the action (often when you need it most) the arrow vanishes. Just… keep your eyes wide open and watch where you’re going.

While the replay value of this game is much higher than what you might expect, the first run through will drive you nuts. When diving into a new level with a billion things going on, it’s very easy to lose your bearings. The moment you are about to figure out where you are in relation to the action, the game interrupts with a cutscene, introducing a new threat and throwing you off. Once you recover from that, you’ll get hit with another cutscene. Then they’ll do it again. Even in the earlier missions they cutscene the crap out of you. I LIKE cutscenes, but even I think Lair pushes it to the point of silliness. Of course once you actually played through a mission once or twice, you know where the triggers are and where the threats are and that’s the point the game becomes enjoyable.. if you can get past the controls.

I give Lair three out of five stars. It is not without issues and I believe they could have made the game much more accessible than they did, it is not a complete disaster. It’s a game. Think about the functionality I’ve described and see if you can picture it fitting your play style. If your primary game is action-simulation, flying or driving, with a strong desire to burninate, you’ll likely find something to enjoy here. If you’re all about the first person shooter with lightning quick reflexes, steer clear.
Rating: 3 / 5

Before playing Lair I read some scathing reviews on it, and of course the main criticism for the game is the controls. I’ve heard they are unresponsive, tortorous, sluggish, and many other names from critics, and regular gamers. Still after reading these reviews, I still wanted to play the game. I had a feeling that some of the people playing this game didn’t take the time to learn the controls, and gave up on it, saying the game was poorly designed.Well I just recently got a PS3 and Lair was amongst the first games I bought, and after playing through and beating the game, I couldn’t disagree with those people more.

Story: I’m not going to go too much into the story, involving the warring nations of Asylia and the Mokai, except to say I was impressed with what was there. It’s not complex, but is very interesting and told very well through some great FMV cutscenes between levels. I really didn’t think there would be a lot of story, figuring it would be like a typical action game, but I was wrong. Again, nothing complex, but better than your average action game. It’s even emotional at times.

Graphics: The graphics in the game look really good. Mostly the colors are earthen, using a lot of browns, blacks, and greys, but they are still well done. Lots of details on the dragons of course, but also the other creatures like the giant manta bombers or huge warbeasts. The levels themselves all look great. As you fly past towers in the cities you will see decorative markings on them. The water isn’t the best looking water I’ve seen, but it still looks nice, especially when the sun is reflecting on it. Fire effects look great of course, as well as explosions which look awesome.

Sound: The sound in the game is fantastic, from the voice acting, the screech of the dragons, explosions, and soldiers screaming as they catch on fire or are chomped on, all sound great. The music is good. Damn good. Like the story, I was shocked by how great the music was. In my opinion it would fit well into the Lord of the Rings trilogy. When I first started the game and went to the main menu, I stopped when I heard the music and sat there and listened to it before starting the game. It is that good.

Controls: A lot of bad things have been said about the controls. In my experience they work almost like a dream. Yes they do feel weird at first, but there are tutorials to help you out. The movement of the dragon in the air is entirely Sixaxis based motion controls that is supposed to simulate you using the reins of a dragon. Tilt the controller up, the dragon goes up, tilt down and she (the dragons you ride are female) goes down. Left and right the same. Flick up and the dragon does a cool 180 degree turn, flick down and she gets a burst of speed. Jerk the controller to the right or left and she does a dodge move in that direction. Square button shoots the fireballs, hold it down to shoot a stream, useful for taking out dozens of ground troops at once. Tapping the X button makes the dragon go faster, L1 or R1 is your lock on button, L2 or R2 is your brake button, and pressing those both together will make you hover, or land if you are near the ground. On the ground the left stick moves your dragon, circle makes her swipe, square again handles the fire, and pressing the triangle makes the dragon chomp on a soldier. Keep holding the triangle button down and the soldier gets devoured, replenishing your energy. The controls sound complex, but I really think with practice you can get used to them. I thought they were so good that I didn’t even bother with the tutorials, after the second mission I was pretty comfortable with them, dodging fireballs left and right, tracking and taking down dragons. Sometimes the controls did some things I didn’t want them to, like doing a speed dash instead of the 180, but these were few and far between, and never caused me to die or fail a mission. Overall I loved the controls, and think a lot of people just didn’t take the time to learn them.

Gameplay: The game is very short, and can be beat over a weekend, but none of it is filler, and is all quality. Each mission is a little different and range from epic battles, escorting and protecting, a jail break, a somewhat stealth mission that had you avoiding spot lights, plus the occasional boss battle. Each mission has a variety of objectives, from protecting manta bombers, taking out a certain number of ground troops, destroying ballista emplacements, and just straight up dog fights, er, dragon fights.

Before playing the game I thought this would be a basic flying game, but again, I was wrong. Yes there are a lot of air battles, but you will be doing more. Landing on the ground and roasting, eating or swiping back ground troops never gets old. Sometimes when doing this the game will go into slow mo, and you will see the troops and armor pieces flying back from you strike. One particular moment, which I will never ever forget, that happened while I was engaging the troops on the ground was when I set dozens of them on fire, then knocking more down with my swipes,I finally had my dragon bite down on a lone soldier who somehow survived my previous slaughter. When I bit down on him, the game went into slow mo, the soldier writhing in pain screaming as blood spewed forth, and all around me the buring corpses of my foes, then my dragon swallowed him whole armor and all. It was a fantastic moment.

There will be times where you will actually get into a fist fight,or claw fight while in the air, with another dragon. When this happen you have different moves, you can breath fire on your opponent, swipe them with your claws, and bite them. You also get some combo moves. Like the swiping feeding move where your dragon swipes the other dragon, and bites the rider. Use this as the killing blow and you get a lot of energy back.

Another cool thing are the takedown moves. These are God of War style button pressing action sequences. These allow you to take down an enemy dragon or boss in a spectactular fasion. There are a variety of these scenes and they are very impressive. There are some boss fights, but not many. They are pretty good though, especially with the giant sea serpent, and I do mean giant.

To help fight your enemies, you have two types of lock on functions. A soft lock on, when the game automatically locks on to your opponent, which is shown by a white halo, and a hard lock on which happens when you press the lock on button. When this happens the halo turns red, and the game kind of takes over flying for you,and you just have to shoot at whatever it is that you are locked on to. With the soft lock on, which I mostly relied on, the fireballs you shoot home in on the target, making it easy to hit other dragons or gun emplacements. I had hardly any trouble with zeroing in on my targets. Like the controls the targeting takes some practice to get used to, but I thought it worked really well.

Cons: Now on to the bad stuff. Most people’s problems stem from the controls. Mine is the waypoint system. There is no radar map to guide you around, only an arrow pointing you to your next objective which sounds good, but trust me, it’s not as helpful as other games waypoint systems. Here is an example. In one mission you have to take out three generators to destroy some spot lights. The game points you toward the objective, and when you are near the objective, the arrow will vanish, signalling you that you are there. Now, there are no highlights on the generators, and trust me when I say that the generators in Lair don’t look like normal generators. It took me a while to figure out what the generators looked like before I could destroy them. This happened a lot throughout the missions, the game telling you what you needed to do, but not properly highlighting your objective. It wasn’t too major, and other gamers may not have a problem with it, but I sure did. Its made all the worse when you have multiple objectives. Like one mission where you had to destroy enemy ground troops on a slope, destroy the enemy ships, and take out other dragons. All of this can happen all at once, and you have to figure out what is the most dangerous threat. Again, nothing that can’t be dealt with, but still annoying. That was my biggest problem with the game, but it still didn’t detract from my enjoyment.

Well I hope this review was helpful. You’ll notice that there are times where I said “I was wrong” about something. That is because this game kept shattering my expectations. It does so much that in my opinion it can’t be called a simple flight game. I really really loved this game. I was excited while playing and it never felt dull or boring. Occasionally frustraing, but what game isn’t? I think the game is vastly underrated and undeserving of the critical bashing it has taken. This is one of the most unique, fun, and refreshing games I have ever played and I will defend it if I ever get into a conversation about it. I’m sorry if my review was too long, and for any grammatical errors I made. I’m not the best speller, and even worse at punctuating, but hopefully I made it easy enough to understand, and hopefully help you in your decision on whether or not you will play this game. Thanks for taking the time to read my review.
Rating: 4 / 5

I have read a LOT of negative reviews of this game, and was worried that it would end up being a big disappointment for me. I have looked forward to it ever since I first heard of it almost a year ago. Many have said that the motion sensor controls are “horrible”, “abysmal”, “torturous” etc. If you want a game to just open up and begin to fully enjoy without any practice, you had better look elsewhere. However, if you don’t mind going to the practice area to hone your skills, you will enjoy this game. I find that the motion sense controls add a certain freedom of movement that you can’t get using the thumbsticks. Yes, it did take me a little while to get used to, and I had to go to the training section to practice certain skills, but each time I play, I get better and better at controlling my dragon. If you want to get the gold medals, you will find yourself replaying each mission, hopefully improving with each repeat. But if you just want to play the game, then you can just play right through the entire story. Perhaps the designers might have considered that some people just don’t like the motion control, and therefore should have offered the user to decide which controls to use. If you are unsure of whether or not you will like these controls, I would suggest renting before buying. However, if you are like me and have been waiting for a good game to come out on the PS3 that makes full use of the motion sensor capabilities, then I would suggest giving Lair a try. I will say that the one thing that I found a little annoying was that just when I was starting to enjoy myself fighting on the ground, it was time for me to return to the air to continue my mission. So, while Lair is not a perfect game, I do think that it is not the colossal failure that some reviewers have made it out to be. It is a truly beautiful game to play with a great story and gorgeous music. All in all, I’m a very happy dragon rider!!!
Rating: 4 / 5

I enjoy shooters and action games where precision is key; however, sometimes you need a rest from the clichés of those genres: Lair provides just that. Although many have criticized the motion control scheme, Lair uses it to great effect. From the second you pick up the controller and start turning it, the dragon will immediately react. You get the feeling that you’re piloting a massive beast. Last time I checked, dragons aren’t considered high-precision military aircraft, so I don’t understand why people are complaining that the dragons in this game don’t turn on a dime. The levels are epic in scale, so the design has taken this fact into account. Lair has insane production values, and the music, sound effects, graphics, etc. will blow you away. The lock-on system certainly isn’t perfect, but I’ve played games with far worse implementations of this mechanic. In short, Lair is a unique and pleasant departure from the shooter-heavy lineup of this holiday season and the foreseeable future. Just realize this game isn’t for everyone. Some people would rather stay on the ground.
Rating: 4 / 5

I love dragons. I love video games. Put the two together and I am in absolute heaven.

Or so I thought.

After waiting with baited breath for the arrival of LAIR in my local game store, my bf and I brought it home and popped it into our PS3 only to find out….the controls are damned difficult.

At first I thought it was simply him having issues mastering the sixaxis controls, as I’d spent some time previously playing “Flow” where the only controls are via the controller’s sixaxis sensors. But when I got my hands on the controller finally and tried it out myself it was difficult, sluggish, and overall very frustrating. So much so that I believe we tried to play this game for 2 hours between the two of us and we haven’t put it back in since. It felt like a lot of money to spend on a game that was difficult to maneuver through. (As an aside we’re both experienced, veteran gamers. We’ve had plenty of chances to sample challenging game play AND poor character controls. This game features the latter.)

The game would definitely benefit from giving the players the ability to choose between either using the sixaxis controls or going with the old standbys, your LS and RS on the game controller. WarHawk was designed this way and there has been plenty of time wasted in our house on that game because we could choose between the two.

I do want to give the game props for being visually stunning to play, as well as having a few interesting features. Being able to slam in to the enemy by jerking the sixaxis controller was, although difficult to accomplish, an interesting way to attack them. It definitely made you feel as if you were more in to the story that way. Being blown all over the practice map was irritating but did give you an idea of just how harsh the conditions were that you were dealing with in that world.

If they ever do run the rumored patch to allow you to control the dragon with the joysticks instead of the sixaxis, I will absolutely pick the game back up to play it. Running the practice course was very fun and could only be improved with greater ability to handle your mount. With that one correction I would easily restore the other two stars to this review.
Rating: 3 / 5

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