Lair review
You should really consider this game...really.

The good:

-Graphics are amazing
-SIXAXIS is intuitive and easy to use
-Battles are epic
-soundtrack is stunning
-lots of replay value
-Levels are diverse
-just about everything

The bad:

-sometimes a bit confusing


To begin with, we'll cut straight to gameplay.
You're started off with mission selection, which allows you to horizontally control the dragon to your heart's content until you select a mission.

First mission starts with a quick flight tutorial before cutting to the first mission. You're presented with the basic mechanics of controlling the dragon; turning, up and down, boost and 180, and basic firebreath attacks. You are required to fly through a line-up of rings before you go to mission 1.

This is the first time you realize that this game in no way is unresponsive. In fact, most might realize that the game is actually almost too responsive. Once you get into it, controlling the dragon is second nature.
Fire breathing is easy; pressing square gets you a fireball, holding it down gets you a firestream. R1 is lock on, and circle causes your dragon to dash to the target once lock is achieved.

When you attack a dragon, you will be required to bash the other dragon a couple times, which will subsequently launch you into a midair melee brawl with your opponent, given the enemy wasn't killed by the bashing beforehand. Triangle is for biting, square is for fire attack, and circle and square are for slashing with your claws. R1, L1, or R2 and L2 together is for blocking attacks. These sequences are nicely done, but once or twice throughout the campaign the two dragons' animations may freeze up, so you don't know when an attack is coming. You may want to block for a little while, and then just guess a little bit; the animations will come back.

You also have the option of Takedown attacks. These are cinematic attack which involves you either jumping from your dragon to kill the rider and then the beast, or a dramatic dragon attack. These require some player input to complete, but they're not overly immersive. They're still awesome to watch though.

If you get confused as to what characters are enemies and what are allies, hold down on the D-pad; you will activate Rage Vision, or a sort of infrared vision that highlights enemies in red. Easy to use and efficient. Also available is Rage: pressing up on the D-pad slows time down, but you still move in normal time while everyone else is slowed down. Almost like superspeed without the blurs. This can be moderately useful if you get overwhelmed. But it's not always available; you must build up energy to use it.

You will also be required to interact with certain objects, or do a special attack on certain beasts at some points in the game. These objects will let you lock on to them; some can be taken out with one or more fireballs, but sometimes they must be specially destroyed. Lock on to these objects, press circle to fly up to them, and your dragon will grab onto them. Shake the controller up and down to start pulling on it. Either you will pull them out and fly away with them to throw them away to your disposal, or they will just blow up.

Some beasts, specifically Rhinos, Tauros and Warbeasts, are vulnerable to specific attacks. With Tauros, either you get down on the ground and kill them, or lock onto them, press circle to dash to them and carry them away, to then throw wherever you like. Rhinos have headplates that you must yank off, which you do by shaking the controller up and down while holding on. I don't see how this kills them, but it does. Warbeasts are like AT-ATs from Star Wars, or like Mumakil from Lord of the Rings; big lumbering beasts with warriors and ordanace on them. Destroy the platforms on their backs, and then fly low and slow beside them, press triangle to latch on, and then flick the controller forward to boost, pulling the beast over. These special attacks are for the most part easy to do, and look cool too. Warbeasts are a bit hard if you don't destroy the positions on their backs.

You also have the option in certain levels to get down in the weeds and kill things things with your bare hands. To land on the ground, you must slow down a bit, get close to the ground, and press R2 and L2; your dragon will land. There are a few different attacks: using Circle or jerking the controller left and right will cause the dragon to swipe its claws. Square is for fireball, or firestream if you hold it down. Jerk the controller down and the dragon will open its wings and sweep a blast of air, throwing soldiers off their feet. Press triangle to munch on a solider, replenishing some health. At some points time will slow down, and you can move the camera by moving the left stick or tilting the controller. The camera is a bit limited here, but since most of the time you're on flat surfaces, it doesn't really matter. Altogether, the ground combat is pretty good, and rewarding.

The first mission isn't all that hard, and gives you a few pointers as you go along. The second mission might require one or two restarts, but after that, the missions are fairly straightforward. They increase in difficulty as you go along, and one or two missions are a little more difficult than others. The final missions is quite interesting, as it involves plugging up an erupting volcano's vents to prevent utter destruction. Each missions is diverse, and halfway through you will switch dragons; you can choose from two dragons in whichever mission you please after beating the game. You may also go back to the training level whenever you please to polish up on your flying or ground skill.

Altogether, the gameplay itself is easy to slip into. The dragons fly nicely, and feel natural with SIXAXIS. While Factor 5 may have saved a bit of face by including analog control, nothing was really done wrong here. Gameplay is great, and certainly nothing like reviewers make it out to be. What makes it better is that at one point, you have to face a giant sea serpent. Best. Boss. Ever.

Next is the graphics. This is where the game also shines. The detail of everything is done to the very last grain of sand. What the games does is add detail to objects the closer and closer you get to them. At far distance they are detailed, and are still detailed once you get up close to them. Every object looks amazing, and light reacts on them like they really would.

The water is expertly modelled, and acts in real time: the waves aren't scripted, and affects things as they move; if you're low to the water, you'll be moved upward if a ave rises under you. From any distance, the water is jaw dropping. Light reflects off of it and sparkled photo-realistically.

The light in this game is very well done, and reacts very well when hitting objects.

The dragons are also stunning. They are sharp and detailed, and their animations are awesome. On your first dragon, light dulls as it hits the rough skin. The second dragon you get is scaly, and light reflects off of it sharply, almost making it look wet (realistically so). In general, the dragons are great.

The cutscene characters are stunningly detailed. Of course they're not perfect, but their textures are precise; you can almost touch the stubble of the shaven beard of some of the characters. They move right, and look good. Although for some reason, sometimes the in-game environments look better than the cutscene ones. Only sometimes.

On the downside, the clouds could definitely use some work. At distance, they look like they are made of large blurred puffy pixels if you look at them long enough. If you get close, they look a tad more natural, but still aren't great.

All in all, Lair is one of the best-looking games on the PS3 to date.

Next we have sound.

The sounds of the dragons are very well done. The flapping of the wings sounds realistic and believable, and the roars are quite real, even as no real animal could ever make such a noise. The characters sounds are done well, thanks to the pro foley artists at Factor 5.

The soundtrack is epic, oh so epic. You almost feel as if you're playing a movie sometimes. In one mission, everything goes silent, except for the sounds of your dragon, characters voices, and a sad vocal piece playing as you go along. Quite immersive, and the music always fits the action. Whoever did the soundtrack deserves an award,

Everything from voice acting to sound effects are expertly put together. Kudos to the Lair Sound Team.

The game also has unlockable extras, such as behind the scenes videos, concept art, soundtrack player and other items. You also have access to Leaderboards, but for some reason mine keeps freezing up.

Altogether Lair was an unforgettable experience. Definitely one of the better games I've played in my gaming history. While I am a bit of a sucker for fantasy-medieval games, this game still pleases. Lots of replayability. If possible, I even sometimes just fly around for the heck of it.

However, I always advise you rent before you buy. Not everyone likes every game. Everyone's different.


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