8.0

Lair review
Lair of the six axis

The good:

Dragon-riding gameplay is executed well
Simple yet working story
Graphics look great even on normal definition, but you have to check this out on HD!!!
Soundtrack
Voice Acting
Controls

The bad:

Hard to know where to go next and the arrow that's meant to show you doesn't tell you much.
Glitchy in some parts but just some parts and a bit rare to find anyway.
Locking on is screwy.

Summary:

When I read some reviews on this game saying stuff like "this game was hyped up so well but it truely sucks nads", I was annoyed. It looked like a very good game from the screenshots and gameplay vids! I even watched reviews on this game and all they do is bitch about the controls! WHAT!? They're usually saying "oh the graphics, gameplay and such are good but the controls F'IN SUCK!!" Get out! I read that the controls were an experimentation of what the six axxis control can truely do, and I'm thinking "I guess they got a point...". Eventually, I got my hands on a PS3 and this game, played it for a couple of days and...THE CONTROLS ARE NOT THAT GODDAMN BAD!!! Seriously, I found the controls to not be bad! Above-average at most! It was actually meant to be an experimentation in the six axxis controller, and it does work (about 90% of the time), so people have really gotta stop hating on the controls. They still hate on the controls when the patch to let you control with the analog stick came out. Did it just become cool to hate Lair or what!? Well, let's see...

So anyway, Lair is a game set in the middle ages where you're this dragon riding knight named Rohn and you have to fight in this war because erupting volcanoes around your land destroys a fair amount of it as well as polluting its air. Because of this, there are now two Kingdoms. One is called the Mokai, who are basically in poverty because they're the part of the land that got destroyed, and the other is called the Asylians. Asylians are the ones who got the good land that isn't completely destroyed. As such, the Mokai don't like it and they want to take over the Aylians' land. The war between dragon riders begins! What army are you a part of though? You think you're part of the poor army who are attacking, but you're actually Asylian, and you're defending your part of the land from the Mokai troops' attacks. So now...let the war between Asylians and Mokais...BEGIN!

So you're thinking 'dragon fighting, dragon slaying, breathing fire and cutting heads off' will be the sort of thing you're doing in this game, right? Yes! That is right! Throughout the majority of the game, you'll be flying on a dragon! There are times where you can do some land combat, but most of the time, you'll be on board your dragon, burning the Mokai army and their dragons to a crisp or just eating Mokai troops. When you're not killing, you're cruising in the skies, either looking for objectives to complete or just cruising for the sake of cruising.

Objectives vary slightly. One objective might have you defending a city from an attack, while another might let you go on the offense and launch a counter-attack. There are even some objectives where you have to destroy certain objects, like catapults! WHAT FUN! But seriously, these objectives are what you'd expect from a medieval war, and since this game tries to simulate what it's like to be in one, you better get used to it quickly or it'll be no fun.

Maybe it does simulate it a little too realistically...or does it? Enter...the six axis controller! To control the dragon in flight, there's the L2 and R2 buttons for braking (press both to either land and get off dragon or get on dragon and hover), L1 and R1 to lock-on (though it's problematic at times), Square to breathe fire, Circle to attack, X to accelerate and... well, the rest is done via the six axis motion control. Now, this is where people have problems and base their bashings of this game on, and I think it's stupid to bash these controls! I think these controls work 97% of the time! Anyway, motion control is this - tilt up to fly up a bit more, tilt down to fly down a bit more, tilt left to turn left and tilt right to turn right, as well as twist down (or shove down as I seem to be doing) to lunge forwards. Seems simple enough. I don't see why people go all ADD on this, especially since THEY WORK! If there's anything I find a bit annoying, it's when you're trying to do 180 degree flips. You have the blindingly quickly force the controller up in the air while holding it (well, you're supposed to twist it forwards apparently, but forcing it upwards works better for some reason) to do 180 degree flips. This, I actually find hard to do at first, but you eventually learn to do them...and learn that you don't necessarily have to do them too much anyway, so who cares?

There are other controls, like when the dragon is walking on the ground, it can breathe fire, swipe them, rush through them and eat them, and you control movement with analog sticks. Of course, there are also controls for Rohn when he's not on his dragon, like running around and mounting his dragon...haha that's it! Not really that important seeing as most of the game is done in the air (though some missions do get a bit easier if you do some ground combat, gouging your enemies' eyes out or melting them or even eating them).

So anyway, back to the objectives...yeah, typical medieval sort of thing. Oh, one thing I forgot to mention, there is a sort of morale system that determines whether or not an army surrenders. If it goes a certain direction, that army is getting close to retreating, even surrendering. This is sort of like in the Dynasty Warriors series where you have to make sure your troops live throughout the mission and that you kill the opposing armies as quickly as possible before the morale meter drops and forces you to surrender, though Lair does this more harshly. Some objectives are timed, and you have to be quick to save your troops. This sounds easy, but it's far from it! Enter...not knowing where the hell to go!

There are times in this game where you are not going to have a clue as to where you're meant to go or what/who you're meant to hit/burn/eat. In some objectives, this ends up very annoying (while in a few others, it's nothing considering you'd probably figure out what you're meant to do in what area anyway). I did say some of these objectives are timed, didn't I? Well, if you don't know where you're going, you're screwed! There is an arrow at the top right of the screen which does help sometimes, but during certain missions, it doesn't help all that much. Sometimes when I go in that direction, I end up either dying, getting bombarded by enemies or going for something unimportant. You think that's bad? Sometimes, it's not even there! Oh, great! It gets worse from there, though - when it's not there and I hit an invisible wall, it appears! What the hell? STAY GODDAMMIT! Oh, wait, it leaves a bit after I get back on course. That ends up being a great annoyance and can sometimes really ruin it for you. This game will have you relying on memorization and being quick about it, but I guess...it makes it a better game? Actually, I think it just makes the game a bit more annoying than better.

So while flying the air fighting dragons with your dragon, are fire and claws your only means of attack? No, you are wrong! You can also engage in melee combat! If you're locked onto an enemy, press Circle and a button mashing six axis motion control sequence occurs until Rohn can throw a hook onto the dragon, climb aboard it, cut the rider's head off and hurt the dragon so it falls to its death, then get back onto his dragon. If you get very close while locking on and pressing Circle, you can engage in a different sort of melee combat where you bite, scratch, fire and block attacks. Your enemy is able to do the same thing. Basically, you want to be quick about your attacks and make sure the enemy dies before you do. This is the harder of the two sorts of melee combat but it's also more rewarding as you get more life back this way, and you really need that life to keep living throughout missions.

Problem - you have to lock onto the enemy. Not that it's bad or anything, you just have to get a little close, that's all. Unfortunately, if you think that, you're partially right. You also have to deal with a finicky, "all over the place" sort of system which has the screen fidgeting a bit when you lock on, changing it at times. Okay, so we'll just go and attack another enemy. That's good enough for me, but when it doesn't even lock on, that's where I get annoyed! Come on, lock on! There's auto-aim but it just focuses the camera's attention (not yours) to the enemy, and the fireballs miss them anyway. Stick with manual-aim, it's quick fidgety at times, but it at least works.

So what do you get when you finish missions? Medals! You get platinum, gold, silver or bronze medals, depending on how well you did. If you did perfectly (like kill all enemies and rarely, if at all, got injured), you'll get platinum. Gold is if you kill a lot of enemies and not lose a life. Silver will be if you lost 1 life at the most and did a decent job in general of doing your objectives. Bronze is if you did poorly, and by poorly, I mean you lost most of your lives and barely finished the mission with many of your troops living and too much of the time, you're close to retreating. Striving to do better in order to get that platinum medal in every mission is what will boost replay values, that's for sure! Work hard!

So here's my main verdict on the game's presentation and enjoyability:


Gameplay: 4
Dragon riding dragon slaying! Better yet, dragon riding war! Ehh... can't really think of a snappy catchphrase, but yeah, it's basically you on a dragon, taking down armies while keeping yours in line, kind of like in Dynasty Warriors, except...well, you're on a dragon. The major problem is that you don't know where the hell to go at times, plus there are a couple of minor glitches and it feels a bit shallow to some. I like it, I think it was executed finely but with an annoying as all hell problem to boot.

Control: 4
Aside from 180 degree vertical barrel rolls, the controls were actually done very well. It does take some time to get used to and actually requires you to go through a tutorial, but that's outweighed by the good.

Story: 3.5
Not really too much of a story...just some war between two kingdoms without too much development except for an army winning, plus some sort of betrayal, but I guess it works for a game like this. I really don't care that much for story with games like this personally, but some might care and find this a bit empty. Oh well.

Graphics: 5
It's beautiful, it's realistic (close to photo-realistic in fact) and it looks bloody sweet on an HD TV! The amount of detail put into every model, every background, every foreground and every bit of water is just astounding and, like I said, very close to photo-realistic! What more can I say!? Well, they don't look that great on a small TV, but who still plays games on those!? Get a medium size TV at least!

Sound: 4
War sounds! The sounds of fire, the cries of "this is a battle we shouldn't fight", the crunching of dragon's teeth while eating its meal of humans, it's all there! Voice acting is done finely in this game, it's not annoying or anything and it's done with some emotion behind it. Good effort. The only bad thing here is that the soundtrack isn't really that memorable. It's quite a soundtrack, I will admit that! The orchestra who played for this game really did a good job here, but I can't really say it's memorable or anything because there's a lot of these sort of soundtracks and unfortunately, they're more memorable than this game's. Still a kickass soundtrack!

Lifespan: 4
Even after finishing this game, you'll probably see yourself with loads of Bronze/Silver medals for missions, right? Well, you can improve those to Platinum/Gold medals by re-doing missions, but better! There's an online scoreboard which boosts replay value even more. WHAT FUN! Too bad the main story itself is kind of short.

Funfactor: 4
This is going to frustrate people, I'm aware of that. The only real non-fun thing would be the controls if you don't get used to the six axis controls at all. There may be some people who aren't appealed by fire breathing dragons burning armies to ashes, but that's them. It's fun for people who do like this sort of game! Lay off!


Bottom line:
Lair is a game which gets unfairly criticized just because of the controls. There were other problems, one of which actually annoyed me, which were overlooked because of the controls, but all those aside, Lair is a fun game to play and worth at least a rental.

This war gets 4 armies out of 5.

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