Sloppy Seconds - Lair

lair2_leadin.jpgContinuing my second takes from the floor of GC07 in Leipzig, I had my first hands-on with Lair. After playing for about 15 minutes, here are my thoughts (I like it, btw):When Sony announced their SIXAXIS motion controls, most of us considered it "me too" technology. When we first tried them in games like Motorstorm, we went back to analogue sticks after about 30 seconds of ass-handing. But with Lair? Lair nails the motion control.

I literally picked up the controller, jumped on the dragon and flew around the rich environments with ease. And I'm not talking flight simulator, floating around without a sense of speed flying. I'm talking barreling under arch bridges, twisting around castles and skimming the water to take out boats.

In most PS3 motion-enabled games I've tried, there's a noticeable delay to turning. But Lair steering is really tight. Whether Factor 5 has made some necessary breakthrough in their SIXAXIS programming or dragons just lend themselves better to the peripheral's responsiveness, the controls work very well.

And instead of crashing into the occasional turret, your dragon will sharply cut around objects to save us from potentially tedious gameplay. The effect isn't some cheap way of making the game easier (well, maybe to some extent), but a logical extension of flying on a living being with self-preservation.

Lair is on a scale that has few equals. The demo battle is massive, with the real feeling that you are part of a huge war. And the graphics are mature in a way that reminds me of early Sega in some completely instinctual way.

But if Lair fails in one respect (within my admittedly quick impressions), it's the dragon to dragon battles. They take place too high in the air forcing players to lose any sense of speed and general perspective. I don't know that there was a quick fix here, other than maybe programming the AI with a propensity to draw air battles lower to the ground for more intensity.

Even with the initial wave of really bad press and criticisms from some of my colleagues, I'd consider Lair a sure buy after playing the demo. Amidst its imperfections, the project seems every bit as ambitious as Sony likes to claim.


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