Lair Dragons & Control Add-on Pack Impressions

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For me, the most overblown story in gaming from all of last year was the mass bashing of Lair‘s Sixaxis motion control scheme. As I said in my review, I honestly don’t believe that many of those who bitched and moaned about the controls actually gave them a fair chance, either that or they simply couldn’t get it into their thick skulls that steering requires subtle tilts of the controller, not the exaggerated gestures it seemed like most people fell into the trap of using. If you keep your Sixaxis tilts smooth and subtle, soaring through the war-filled skies is a beautiful thing. I think so at least.

But alas, nothing I say is ever going to convince any of the Lair haters that the motion controls are, in fact, excellent, and it seems Sony and Factor 5 have also given up on trying to get gamers to see the beauty of what they’ve created, now releasing a free Dragons & Control add-on pack to the new and improved PlayStation Store. Among other additions, including added DualShock 3 rumble support, new Wind and Poison dragons to mount, and official support for PSP remote play, the 246 MB add-on pack introduces what naysayers have been demanding and demanding: optional analog stick flight controls! But more importantly than that, the option to turn on targeting crosshairs is now available too. Personally, after playing through a few stages with the analog stick controls, I still prefer the original tilt control method. I’m just not getting any greater sense of control with the analog sticks over tilting the controller. Plus, the analog controls are inverted only (unless there’s an option to make them normal that I somehow missed), and I hate inverted control schemes for flight games (and shooters).

The crosshairs option, however, is a godsend. It’s such a no-brainer control feature for a flight combat game that it’s hard to believe it didn’t make it into the original release. I know the developers wanted to stay away from a lot of on-screen HUD clutter to present a more immersive experience, but the game just plays so much better with it in place. My main problem with Lair when I first played it was it’s spastic lock-on system, but having crosshairs sweeps that flaw under the rug almost entirely.

I’m not sure if this is an effect of the add-on, but while playing I’ve noticed that thrusting the controller forward for the speed boost maneuver doesn’t seem to be working any more. I’ve tried it in both Sixaxis and analog stick control modes and haven’t been able to get it to work a single time (pulling the controller back still does the 180 quick-turn though). However, I’ve found that pressing right on the d-pad performs the dash move. Of course, it always could have, but I’ve never done it without the thrusting gesture so I don’t know. I wonder if this is a small control tweak that’s been implemented… Anyone have an idea?

Before signing off here, I’d also like to point out the remote play support because it is downright awesome. I remember hearing that Lair was playable with remote play dating back to last year when it came out, but this is an actual official implementation of the feature, so the controls and crosshairs are all intact. Seeing the game in action on the PSP small screen is just amazing. Sure, it’s watered down some without the HD detail and resolution, but the draw distance and on-screen activity is all there and the frame rate runs pretty smooth. The scale is so great that it’s definitely tough to follow some of the action on the smaller screen though.

So yeah, overall this Dragons & Control add-on is a totally worthwhile download, especially with its low, low price of FREE! If you played and dismissed Lair before, maybe you should give it another go and see if the analog stick and crosshairs options work better for you.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!