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October 15 2007
Lair - PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
15/11/2007SonySonyFactor 5
Offline Players Online players Price Anticipation

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Combat takes place on the ground...
There's no doubt that since the PS3 launched there have been a drought of games. It's not to bad in Europe or Australia as we've been blessed with a tonne of great launch titles, but for Japan and America where the system launched four months earlier in November 2006 the games have been released at a slow pace at best. Fortunately that's about to change as everyone prepares their big games for Christmas 2007. One of the big releases from Sony is this game, Lair. First announced in July 2005 at the Playstation Meeting it has been a long time coming, but for developers Factor 5 Lair is a dream project being given utmost importance by Sony.

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... and also in the air.
Lair is set in a world ravaged by endless conflict and natural disaster, a call for peace turns into a bloodbath of betrayal and deceit. Playing as a warrior knight named Rohn you will ride a voracious dragon trained for deadly aerial and ground combat, and capable of scorching, clawing and smashing thousands of enemies, gamers must defeat countless armies to save a civilization. Together the gamer and the beast will attempt to change the destiny of a world on the brink of extinction.

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Screens are nice; wait until you see it moving.
The key selling point for this title is the seamless combination of vast battles in air and on the ground, against other beasts, and armies of thousands. While the storyline in the game is linear the missions themselves offer a wide range of goals - many of which can be completed in whatever order you choose. In the air it's possible to attack ground targets, and it's possible to jump from your dragon across to a foes dragon before attacking him while hanging on for dear life. It's in the air that the most interesting aspect of this title takes place. That is the ability to use the motion sensing in the Sixaxis' controller to steer your dragon through the skies. We've seen in videos released that at times you will have to move the controller to the side to avoid attacks and also to attack other airborne dragons.

When you land on the ground you will be able to stomp around while on your dragon blasting enemies with flames or causing them a rather painful death by eating them! It will not be possible to dismount your dragon on the ground - when you think about it, it's probably not something you would do in real life either is it? A morale system will be used in the game so if you're performing well the morale of opponents will decrease and thereby reduce their enthusiasm to attack you.

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Rampaging through the battlefield.
While not really gameplay related we must mention that Factor 5 are, in one of the firsts for the Playstation 3, including rewards which you can use in the trophy room in Home which is also due out late this year (for those of you unaware Home is an interactive portal where you can meet other players, talk to them, play games, download movies, or show off trophies that you've obtained from games. Best of all, it's free and will be available through the Playstation Store).

There are still a few questions we have about this game. Primarily we have to question how responsive the Sixaxis' tilt mechanism will be when flying the dragons around the level. So many games have failed to make the tilt controls accurate and sensitive enough to be beneficial and indeed this has been one complaint of the American release. Whether or not the European/Australian release will see modifications to these controls remains to be seen. Sadly it seems that there won't be any multi-player modes in the game despite seemingly being perfectly suited.

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Flame effects are pretty spectacular.
While it's a bit hard to see from these screenshots this game really is jaw-droppingly beautiful when you see it running. One of the biggest selling points of this game is that the visuals will run in 720p or 1080p should your TV be suitable (and we're set here!). With a solid 30fps frame rate this should look astonishing. But it's the massive number of effects that make this game so special. As well as High Dynamic Range (HDR) lighting the game incorporates a full fluid dynamics systems so when something hits the water it actually effects the surface while volumetric effects are used for the smoke, clouds, and fog while the game uses real-time lava, rain, and wind among others.

Audio in the game is extremely impressive with John Debney composing the music for the title. Who is he you all ask? Well John has composed music in well over 100 movies including Sin City, The Passion of the Christ, Liar, Liar, Bruce & Evan Almighty, End of Days, Chicken Little and several episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. His work is extensive, and varied, but this is the first time he has worked on a videogame. When you think about videogame music in the early days it was often just some basic sounds and loops composed, and often performed by a single person. For Lair 8 CD's worth of music were recorded with the 90 piece orchestra at at Abbey Road Studios in London after a writing process that took almost 12 months!

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Dragons get close and personal.
Interestingly the release dates for Lair are being staggered around the globe. America will see the game released first on August 14th, while Europe and Australia were scheduled to see the game in late September it has now been scheduled for mid-November while Japan, where the game is being renamed to Rise From Lair, is currently loosely slated for Fall 2007. Whatever territory you're in Lair looks like one of the best reasons to fire up your PS3 or, if you don't have one yet, to go and buy one! Oh, you may also want to keep an eye out for a demo which should be released in the coming months too...