6.27.2009

LAIR Review (PS3)


What do you get when you combine dragons with Rogue Squadron type shooter missions, and present it with Oblivion style textures and graphics, while throwing in motion controls on PS3 six-axis? A disappointingly average game called Lair.

There was a lot of hype over this game when it got released, but amidst bad reviews it was quickly written off as a bust. I didn't have too much interest in it, but last year I heard they patched it with analog controls (this game was originally six-axis controlled only) and some fixes to the targeting system. With its biggest criticisms addressed, I began to read that LAIR was starting to realize some of its potential, and finally gave in.

The first thing that struck me about this game was the powerful and fitting musical score, which is obviously the product of an orchestra somewhere. For better or worse, it is very reminiscent of the music in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion). Unfortunately, this was about the last thing that really stood out. Like the music, the graphics are also eerily similar to Oblivion (which is old to me now), so while visually impressive landscape wise, a lot of the textures just blend in with each other, making it hard to differentiate between objects on the screen. To make things worse, the lighting is just uneven and the friend/foe indicator mode is annoying because you have to hold the button down (should be a toggle).

The controls are to be expected, but some of the motion stuff is still in there - there were multiple times in the first 4-5 acts that I got stuck at a particular place because I didn't know I had to make certain motions.

There are some pretty good ideas built into this game, but they all get weighed down by their execution. The cinematics are good, but the story is pretty standard fair and highly predictable. There are some impressive looking quick time events for taking down misc enemies and bosses, but they get overused and become old. There are also some cool moves you can do with your dragon, like picking up people or catapults and using them as cannonball like projectiles, but aiming is just difficult.

Overall, you might get a kick out of LAIR if you remember games like Dreamcast's Panzer Dragoon and Gamecube's Rogue Squadron and are looking for something new and similar along those lines. Just don't expect a game of matching caliber.

Pros: Musical score, decent game for a rare genre.
Cons: Lack of intuitive controls (still), all the cool stuff gets really old, really fast.
Completion: 5-6 hours to finish with silver/bronze medals.

kenholic.com rating: 5 out of 10.

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