Friday, September 14, 2007
Good: Some nice graphics, production value
Bad: Easily the worst targeting system in gaming history, and one of the worst control schemes ever
After a couple years of hype over Lair being one of the PS3's "big guns", it was released recently to scathing reviews. It seems this sent Sony PR into a bit of a crisis mode, as much faith and money has been invested in this PS3 exclusive. They seemed so set back by the reviews that they sent out a "Lair Reviewer's Guide" to the gaming media, presumably to teach us how to review their crappy game.
Items in bold are directly from the Lair Reviewer's Guide.
Welcome to the world of Lair, a world created by the PS3 and thanks to the SIXAXIS controller a completely new, fresh approach to action games. Flight in video games has been stagnant for years thanks to motion control we were able to bring a new form of visceral feeling of flight and combat to the screen that finally pushes the genre out of the realm of controlling targeting crosshairs and into controlling creatures, into a real feeling of gliding, power, and strength.
Here's the thing:..at least you can figure out what the hell you're shooting at when you're using analog sticks and targeting crosshairs. I don't know about the Factor 5 team, but I personally prefer to have some control over what I'm aiming at. Lair features no ability to switch between targets, so it's up to the game whether you aim at the immediately-dangerous enemy dragon flying at your face or the completely harmless structure on the ground.
While in the air, you tilt and move the controller in different directions to ascend, descend, bank, and perform special maneuvers and attacks.
Somehow I doubt that by "perform special maneuvers" they really mean "speed burst forward every single time you have the gall to attempt the 180 motion". You see, thrusting the controller down is supposed to perform a speed burst, and hiking it up is supposed to make your dragon do a 180 degree turn. For some reason, the game can never differentiate the motions, so I ended up bursting forward every time I tried to turn completely around (the exact opposite of the intended action). Great.
The Mission Objective Indicator is a visual aid in the form of an arrowhead to help you stay on track and locate your current objective.
This seems like it would be a hard aspect for the developers to mess up. You put in an objective for the players to meet, and you give them an arrow to point them in the right direction. Seems pretty self-explanatory, right? Nope...Factor 5 can't even figure out how to effectively program ARROWS apparently. It's damn near an equilateral triangle, so I guess you could fly in whichever of the three directions it could be facing. Even when you can figure out which side is the correct side, it's displayed at such an angle that you still can't figure out which way it's pointing.
Just as deadly on land as in the air, your dragon can execute a range of attacks when on the ground.
They neglect to mention that controlling your dragon on land is about as easy as driving a tank through a valley of molasses.
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Yeah, that's not a typo on Lawrence.com's end. That's directly from the Reviewer's Guide. Seems the guide needs as much proofreading as the game needed Quality Assurance testing.
Here's the thing:Lair didn't have to suck. I understand the desire to show off the capabilities of the SIXAXIS, but this game isn't a step forward for the controller, it's about 500 steps back. Warhawk had the right idea they included motion support, but made it completely optional. Factor 5 seemed so confident in their shitty control scheme that they made it the only option. This is an arrogant and downright stupid decision on their part, and they deserve every single scathing review they get. Sure, put motion control in your game. Hell, even make it the default selection. However, it's absolutely necessary that this method is an OPTION, not mandatory.
It has some strong production values and visual qualities, but it's all null and void thanks to the sheer unplayability of this travesty of a game. I feel bad for the members of the development team that spent countless hours on cinemas and visuals, as their hard work went to waste because of the laziness of the rest of their team. Lair is one of the biggest trainwrecks in recent gaming history, and Factor 5 has no one to blame but themselves for the fact that their baby is a laughingstock.
First Play: 3.5
Replay Value: 1.0