Lair review (PS3)

coolbeans | 1056d ago | User review
Reviewing: Lair
PS3 History: Find Out Why This Title Still Makes Early PS3 Adopters Cringe
**Before starting to the review, I'd like to note that this review includes the patch, which allowed for an analog stick control scheme.**

Coming in after a rough start across the web, the PS3 needed a brand to make its expensive hardware show off what the machine is really capable of doing. With an interesting take on flight simulation, the developer Factor 5 (behind the famous Star Wars: Rouge Squadron series) behind the project, and early showings of some stunning visuals seemed like it would be enough for Sony to have its first flagship title for the PS3. Unfortunately, Lair actually had a countervailing critical reaction to what most were anticipating. Rather than being a must-have exclusive, Lair became one of the biggest pariahs to PS3 fanboys and flight sim fans alike. It is still dumbfounding to this day how a game with this much promise could've failed across so many boards.

The world of Lair takes place on a huge island, apparently being the only piece of landmass on the planet. Two divided kingdoms, the rough Mokai and the noble Asylians, which once thrived in unison, are now constantly fighting. The provocation for this fighting is found in the sightings of multiple volcanoes reaching all corners of their earth; which instigates one side to blame the other because they feel this is judgment from God. Enter a Burner for the Asylian Sky Guard named Rohn, the main protagonist. Having viewed the Mokai as enemies, Rohn begins to develop a clearer understanding for these people throughout his journey filled with religious schemes, loyalty, and redemption. Lair's story is told through greatly-rendered cinematic cut scenes and voiceover before selecting each battle. Overall, the story is essentially "bare-bones" without the great lore stacked behind it. I viewed the story/lore as a symbiotic relationship between the two (just go with it). In one hand you have the setting, scale, and general ideas while in the other you have masterful artists creating an awesome variety of beasts and locales that accentuate the diversity between the two kingdoms. This meshing of ideas makes me wish there's was more backing behind the plot; although, the fantasy felt so...real. To put a cap on this segment, Lair's story is good in the run. You may feel that it's constricted, but the creators behind the fiction seem to make the most out of what they've been given.

The stunning presentation that was displayed before the game was released is still in all of its glory throughout the game, in both the audio and visual aspects. Even in the opening cut scene, Lair wants to show graphical detail ranging from miniscule to mammoth. Details, such as the dragons scales, can be noticed right of the bat that show how much work went into the game's looks. To keep from going too much into detail, I'll just say this: IF every level was designed closer to the destructive beauty of Maelstrom (2nd to last map), this game would have probably unanimously received best console graphics awards of '07. The only problems found within the games graphics are closer to that of bug-related problems. Going through objects and nauseating camera shifts are the main fundamental visual problems to be found in the game.

Audio aspects of the Lair are of the best heard among it's time; unfortunately, it also seems like that was of the most paramount importance to the developers. With a boisterous chorus/orchestra created, Lair holds one of the greatest original soundtracks of 2007, if not THE greatest. Whether it's from the softer moments of taking in the scale to the all-out hecticism, Lair's range follows closely to that of Star Wars Episode I for the Mokai, while holding more genteel tones for the higher-caste Asylian. The only problem I had was how annoying the voiceovers would cut into each other during the action, sometimes repetitively cutting in on where to go and what to destroy. Overall, there's really no major fault in Lair's audio development and so many strengths.

As hinted in the last paragraph, fellow Lair players may come to an agreement with each other that the gameplay was not the first aspect that the developer focused on. Lair's initial emphasis on flying was coupled with the objective of making PS3's new SixAxis motion mechanic relevant with the system itself. In this also lie many of Lair's faults, one of them being bad motion controls. It's funny to think that the idea that seems to give the most freedom can also be the most restraining mechanic. It would be nice if I could label this steering design as arbitrary, but that's not the case since it was the only mechanic you could use at launch. Although a patch does include analog flying, it requires some finger dexterity to be able to steer and while in 'dragon vision'. As funny as it sounds, the only motion control aspects that seem to work are the ones that keep the dragon temporarily stationary.

Lair's overall structure will come off as familiar to you if you have played any of the Rogue Squadron games. Before each mission, you're presented with an overview of the story and what to expect from the map. The mission structure comes-as expected-with a directional arrow to guide you towards your next objective; built in with that comes "dragon vision". While holding down the UP D-Pad button, your screen goes into the dragon's eye, allowing you to see highlighted objects you either need to defend or destroy. Quick time events and duels with other dragons are some of the highlights of the gameplay implementing both SixAxis and face buttons whenever necessary. These sequences still contain errors in regards to the camera. The slow motion clips of destroying an enemy may be cool, but that also makes you lose sense of your direction. Lair's overall structure is sound until you put the game in motion. There are just too many inconsistencies in what mission is your first priority in defending.

Lair will probably be held on among the greats (or worst(s) depending on how you look at it) of "Disappointing new IP's". Never would one expect such a "grocery list" of problems to a game that looked spectacular upon announcement. On a personal note, this was my hyped game that would've made me purchase a PS3 around Lair's release date. To those who have yet to play, run in the other direction. For all of its marvelous technical design comes a short, unsatisfying flight game.

coolbeans' *Certified RotteN* badge
Ups
Outstanding technical design
Excellent lore
Ambitious
Downs
Awful gameplay
Terrible value at starting retail price
Odd bugs (although sparse)
Score
9.0
Graphics Truly awe-inspiring vistas will really draw you in. Everything is simply jaw-dropping until you run into visual oddities.
9.5
Sound Definately deserves a best audio ('07) nomination.
2.0
Gameplay Poor camera angles, unbearable flying controls with Sixaxis, tacked-on analog flying, poorly explained mission objectives, and so on. The highlights of the game are what you rarely get to see.
3.0
Fun factor As much as I can appreciate the effort shown by the artists, I can't say I had much fun playing this game. If every level was designed similarly to Maelstrom, it would be a different story altogether.
0.0
Online Has online leaderboards, but I can't exactly grade it solely on that. You're required to be online in order to get the important patch.
3.7
Overall (out of 10 / not an average)
coolbeans  +   1056d ago
Hope everyone enjoyed the review. Congrats for being more first Certified Rotten rating, Lair :P. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section or through PM.
jadenkorri  +   1054d ago
Innovation and change is a hard thing to pass onto consumers. The sixaxis idea was great and I support the creators of Lair for doing so. Had we had the option right away, we would of played with analog sticks rather than with sixaxis controls. IMO it was a great game and the sixaxis controls was done well once you got used to it. The downsides was re-playability. I had no urge to go back and play the levels again and yes the sixaxis controls are very frustrating, frustrating enough for my friend to let me borrow only after a couple days after launch, which usually don't happen. I only have experience on this game with sixaxis, have not played it with analog. This game will remain a gem in my mind, but a disappointment to my friend and maybe many others.
FriedGoat  +   1056d ago
Not entirely sure why you have 4 disagrees, but thanks for the read. I have never played Lair and was always intrigued as to weather i would like it. Surely one could learn the controls even though they are bad?
Jinxstar  +   1056d ago
I'm one of the few who played it and actually liked it. Probably because I was awed at my first "Next gen" experience. but I found a lot of the flying around and burning armies by the handfuls to be fun.

The controls are very unforgiving and can be down right frustrating even with the regular controls added in post launch.

Truth is though you can probably find the game on E bay for under 10$ and I personally like to look at all games from a $-fun ratio. A good movie costs me 10$ or so to see. Plus maybe 5 dollars for a soda. So that to me is 7.50$ an hour for quality entertainment. So if I buy a game for 60$ I hope to at least get 8 hours or so of quality entertainment. If the game is less and gets average scores I pass til price drops. If I get my "Bang for my buck" then it's worth it.

With Lair your probably going to get at least 2-3 good hours out of it. Possibly more. I got about 8 myself. So really imo it's worth the gamble at the prices it surely is now... However it is a gamble and might totally feel like someone just stole hours of your life you may never get back...

I however found the game very pretty, relaxing and a fun time waster. If you are however looking for "Bang for your buck" buy a shooter, fighter or RPG.... All depends on the person.

Also author. Good review. honest and to the point.
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FriedGoat  +   1056d ago
Good to know, thanks.
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coolbeans  +   1056d ago
"Also author. Good review. honest and to the point."

Thank you. I certainly don't enjoy the idea of giving a scathing review to a game others could have really enjoyed, but I just had to state my quarrels with this game.
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Jinxstar  +   1056d ago
Truth is your allowed your opinion and most gamers on the internet are either 1 extreme or another. Your view can differ from mine and thats fine. I'm also not above warning a fellow gamer that because I liked it doesn't mean at all that they will. I am at heart a PS3 fan and have my beliefs that go with that but wont try and call you a liar because you didn't like a game... Try to imply you are a secret PS3 hater because thats far from true. I hate plenty of PS3 exclusives but love tons more...

Also I REALLY like when people use the whole 1-10 scale and not just the 7-10 part...

One of my other things that I believe is a game can be a 10/10 and that doesn't mean it's "perfect". All it mean to me is "This game is worth the asking price to me and 99.999 percent of people will probably agree." i.e. Batman AA. Some people disagree but meh... I mean really imagine if a reviewer said "GTA4 is worth 100/60$" meaning that to them they would have paid up to 100$ to play the game it has that much value. would that make it more then perfect? Not at all...

I have many opinions but your right to not enjoy a game shouldn't gain you hate... or disagrees imo...

Anyway sorry for the rant. I just like civil discussion and it never seems to happen...
coolbeans  +   1056d ago
Jinxstar basically stated it for you. When it comes to the review side, I try to mingle between acting as if this is a review from the past and present. In the past tense, I considered the game's initial price point, graphics/audio compared to rest of industry, etc. In present terms, I also noted the patch that allows you to control more dragons and incorporates flying with the left analog stick, although it's terribly tacked-on.

I'd recommend steering clear of trying motion-control flying. The system is easy to learn, but mastering is out of the question. Any sudden flinches or what not can cause you to head the other direction. Heck, it is only $9.99 used as Gamestop but I personally have to recommend most look for other flight games. You may spend more on other vanities, but even that $10 can go towards a new game coming out imho.
FriedGoat  +   1056d ago
This may be off topic, but what the heck do the speech bubbles mean opposite our names? why do they go increasingly yellow?
coolbeans  +   1056d ago
^You're limited to the a certain number of bubbles per topic. You're currently allowed to make 4 different posts on this review, while I'm allowed 5. Your bubble meter will increase if you have great posts to add to the topic, and the opposite goes for trolling/immature behavior/etc. I think you can read it somewhere on n4g. Try n4g Terms and Services or some kind of FAQ on here.
Jinxstar  +   1056d ago
Fried.

In each article your allowed so many bubbles. This is how much you can comment. I am down to one more comment in this article then I can take it to PM's if I like.

If you "Like" what someone says you bubble them green meaning you'd like to hear more of what they can say. If you think they are a troll you can bubble them down and they can get down to only one bubble per article so people can ignore them more...

However multiple accounts and from many peoples views "Biased mods" can change you at a whim... but for the most part as long as your trying to make intelligent conversation and not "trolling" you should never drop below 3 bubs and only gain.

Edit: beat me to it... Anyway off to try league of legends =D
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mastiffchild  +   1055d ago
Well, coolbeans, I take your opinion as fair enough but find myself totally opposed to it. I think that had Lair had two changes made to it a lot of people would have had a lot of fun with the game-and as it stands I did and think many willing to take a little time to master those controls would too.

There's little doubt in my mind that L:air suffered on two fronts because Sony wanted certain things from it:out early in PS3 lifetime and as a showcase for Sixaxis due to the rumble court case. As a result the game was a bit rushed, short, lacking basic features and didn't include either a good enough tutorial for the sixaxis controls OR analogue ones for those wanting them.

Released today, with trophies, fully explained controls with and without motion, minimap/radar to tell us when we'd got turned around in aerial battle and slightly more content and it could be an amazingly good game.

As it is it contains a couple of very different but very classic levels anyway which veer from balls oput dragon combat to bloody stealth. The game still looks good today and sounds AMAZING and a patch giving the game a few of the things I outlined would, I think, get people playing the game and rating it pretty highly if they gave it a PSN release at around £15. Same as HSD would do, or Folklore-they didn't have the flaws Lair does/did but still failed a little due to when they got released and deserve playing by more people and a trophy patch and PSN release would remedy that.

I actually think that a GREAT control scheme could be made for Lair using Move and , as such, if they did it Sony would have a great showcase for the motion control add on for very little outlay. then again, I STILL believe the best current way to play Lair is the original controls. I found them TERRIBLE at first but am glad now that I played it before the patch came out for analogue controls as there's a lot more subtlety allowed for with Sixaxis ONCE you get your head round them. Granted, I understand that not everyone has the patience for that and also there should always have been a better choice for gamers who didn't want the motion controls but they just aren't unusable as some suggest.

Anyway-in it's current shape I'd give the game a 7/10 and if they added the things I outlined as improvements it could get as high as an 8.5/10. 3.7 is harsh to my mind and could maybe be a little higher had coolbeans allowed a little less for personal taste in his final rating. I didn't get much fun playing Fallout3, for example, but I can still appreciate where a lot of it's quality lies even if it's not up my street and while I accept a few of his Lair criticisms I still don't think it's as bad as made out.

Because there's a really good game trying to get out from behind a couple of bad mistakes and bad forced decisions I'm willing to give a little more leeway to Lair myself and found, once I'd mastered the finicky controls there';s a lot to like in this painfully flawed, but should be revisited, games from PS3's early days. Whatever, great to see a decent write up about it even if I can't agree with you coolbeans!

PS-don't you think the "poorly explained mission objectives" would have been gone at a stroke with the inclusion of minimap/radar feature? They could have found a lore link to explain it as a Dragon/rider instinct or something as the games great at creating a world that's coherent, no? Also, a lot of camera issues go if you get really happy with the motion controls even if I DO think a new approach with move/nav.
coolbeans  +   1055d ago
You made some wise statements, mastiff; however, I still stand by my score and it would've received a lower score were it not for the extras included in the patch. Regardless of how time you take with the game's motion mechanics, you only need to play through the 1st level to know that, regardless of how long you take to "master" the mechanics, they're terrible finicky and vastly inferior to analog controls, which also happen to be interior to flight stick controls used on PC. Who's knows, perhaps Lair waiting for Move to happen would've brought Move it's first killer-app. But since that's not the case, we have to deal with a mechanic that barely worked out of the starting gate, and barely works now. Imo, it's not a case of whether or not you get your head around it, it's a case of whether or not you should create a time machine to go back and stop Sony from ever coming up with the Sixaxis idea.

Yes, the game still still looks and sounds great, given when it was released. It can certainly be a selling point when you have "1080P and True 7.1 Surround Sound" on the back of your cover, but those things are completely irrelevant when the game holds little value after it's 6 hours or less hours (only counting time while playing, and I felt I was going pretty slow), gameplay faults on so many fronts, and the feeling of utter disappointment if you've played a Rouge Squadron game.

I'm going to have to clue you in on one thing: personal taste is involved in EVERY REVIEW. There's plenty of games I don't fully enjoy as compared to the average gamer, but still appreciate what it may have done for the genre. Seeing as how I wrote down "ambitious" as one of the pros, you should take that as an indicator that I do have appreciation for what Lair was wanting to accomplish. I don't submit any reviews that haven't been empirically viewed from my point of view. Yes, we all have opinions, but I won't go to the extreme of saying "I didn't like it; therefore, the game is a 3".

When it comes to miss interpreted objectives, it was at its clearest example in the "busting the dam" level. *SPOILERS* So many times throughout that battle, I was completely lost as to which enemy was the most important to kill first (disregarding the end). Even when I had the motivation meter completely filled in favor of my group, I still lost the battle from losing to many men. Just a simple case of meandering off for a few minutes and then seeing that it's set towards how many Mokai are killed, rather than the motivation meter. I don't care about the lore finding a way into the gameplay on purpose. This is a game first and foremost so I don't mind how full the HUD can get, even with games striving to be the next cinematic game.

Hope that helps clarify some of my points for you :). Since I'm out of bubbles, you can PM me on this some more if you'd like.
kane_1371  +   1054d ago
I enjoyed Lair, maybe I'm a too big of Dragon lover, or something like that, but I do not agree with 3,5
But good article nonetheless
BlueRevolvuR  +   1052d ago
I remember when I first heard about this game. It looked so promising, and I was shocked to hear how bad it was when it released. I ended up getting Warhawk instead, which actually wasn't too bad with motion controls, but I sticked to the analog controls for that. The idea is great though. I hope one day in the future, Sony looks into creating another game with the same idea, but better executed.

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Lair

Average Score 6.2 Reviews(34)
Release Dates
PS3 Release Dates
EU 2007
US 04 September 2007