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12:57 PM on 12.05.2010

Self-Promotion: Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer Beginner's Guide

Fair warning, this is a little bit of self-promotion. I'll leave it up to you to decide how shameless it is. I wrote a little freelance piece on Suite101 about getting into Black Ops' multiplayer modes. It's really for beginners, so I'm not sure how relevant it will be to the Destructoid community. Either way, I have to spread the word about my article. If you want to check it out, please do and I will be your friend forever. If you don't want to, that's cool too. It just means I won't invite you to my birthday party.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer Beginner's Guide


12:05 PM on 09.01.2010

Shameless Self-Promotion Alert! "The Kult"

Hey fellow Dtoiders. Yes, this post will be shameless. Yes, it will be full of self-promotion. But it also should be really really really cool. (Or maybe just one really).

One of the screenplays I co-authored, "The Kult," is being produced by Gharial Productions and is getting ready to start shooting at the end of September. It's a horror/thriller film about a detective on the hunt for a serial killer. It's based on the novel by UK author Shaun Jeffrey.

Anyway the official poster is now up on the movie's website. We're doing a little promotion where we want you to download it, use Photoshop, and make your own/remix it. Send it back to us and we'll display the best ones on the site.

(Don't worry almost done here!)

Head over to the site for more info about the movie: The Kult

I've also attached the poster here. Hopefully it's not too big.


9:47 PM on 08.11.2010

Teh Bias: Why My 360 Is Gathering Dust

My Xbox 360 is a secondary console at best. I donít deny that my primary console is my PS3 followed by the PS2 backwards capabilities on my PS3. Then comes a whole host of retro consoles: GBA, SNES, PS1 etc. In fact my Xbox hasnít been turned on in over 4 months. In fact I own one game for it Ė Lost Odyssey.

Why? My answer: teh bias.

Why you so lonely Mr. White Box?

I like the PS3ís line up, and when given Iím given the choice between getting a game for either the PS3 or the 360, Iíll get the PS3 version. Itís not because the graphics are better, or that I think Blu-Ray is a better format.

Woo! No multiple discs! Haha. No.

No my bias in favor of Sonyís black beauty o Blu-Ray comes more from Micosoftís business practices than any characteristic inherent in Sonyís console. First off thereís the Red Ring of Death. My 360 used to belong to my family. It red ringed and instead of getting it fixed my brothers (like the good consumers they are) decided to con my dad into getting them a new one while the broken one sat in the corner. I convinced them to give it to me and I took it upon myself to get it fixed Ė after it lay dormant for over a year.
While Microsoft did fix my console, it was a bit of a hassle. While I applaud their customer service for fixing it for free even though the warranty was expired, it shouldnít have broken in the first place. Microsoftís shoddy manufacturing created this problem.

When I got the 360 back, Microsoft, thinking they were being nice (and trying to keep my business) gave me a card good for 6 month Xbox Live Gold membership. The card has sat in my desk drawer since I got the console back from Microsoft. See I know if I use it, I will have a limited amount of time to enjoy the fruits of online gaming. As soon as those 6 months run out, my online fun will vanish. PSN gives me free online gaming, and while their service is not as robust as XBL, free trumps pretty much everything in my mind. Iím poor. I canít afford to pay the fees to keep an XBL account. I want to be able to enjoy all my console has to offer without paying an unnecessary subscription fee.

There are 360 exclusive games I want to play, but many of them require XBL Gold accounts to play online. Iím sorry Mr. White Box but I canít swing that right now. Maybe somedayÖ Until then Iíll keep my biases intact.   read

12:30 PM on 07.28.2010

TriplZer0's Personal July Recap

TriplZer0ís Personal July Recap
Welcome one, welcome all to my personal recap for the month of July! This is where Iíll talk about games played during the month, thoughts about said games, and any other useless information I think you guys would want to know. Itís a few days early but oh well. If big things happen between now and the end of the month, Iíll write an addendum. So come with me as I take a look back at month number 7.
July sucked. Hereís why.

Videogaming Related Reasons

As stated here Ė Julyís problems began when my PS3 and FFXIII had a little bit of a disagreement. Namely the JRPG was kind of a dick and said, ďNope sorry, donít want to work on your console.Ē

Hereís the rest of that story. After testing my save file on my brotherís system Ė I drove specifically down to San Diego to do it, and it worked Ė it was suggested that I replace my consoleís laser. Since Sony wanted $150 just to look at my console, I decided the laser would be cheaper. I replaced it, no problem.

FFXIII still froze at the same spot. Thatís fine. Fuck that game anyway. I shelved it and moved on to Ratchet & Clank Ė A Crack In Time. Damn fun game. Everything was going fineÖuntil my game froze so badly that I had to use the power switch to turn off the system.

Kind of like this, but with a PS3.

Hereís the ultimate icing on the shit cake that is July: when I turned it back on, my PS3 wouldnít play PS3 games anymore. It doesnít recognize that a disc is in there. PS2 games work just fine. TriplZer0 used Technical Wizardry! It wasnít very effective. My only hope is that I can fix the problem by putting the old laser back in. Otherwise I am royally boned. I wonít be able to afford a replacement system for a long time and the closest holiday where a replacement might be a viable present (or something) is Christmas.

Non Videogaming Related Reasons

In late June my girlfriend and I moved in to an apartment in Temecula Ė a city about a 20 minutes to a half hour north of where we used to live in North County San Diego. The apartmentís great and my workís been going fine.

No the reason Iím listing this is that while we were moving in, I went to park in our designated space, I hit the front left part of my car on a metal pole that held up the roof above the parking spaces. My bumper will need to be replaced Ė not a big deal because thatís plastic. But the metal side panel near my door shifted just enough that itíll need to replaced too. The carís driveable but I just found out that the crash also messed with the electrical components somehow. The back left window will roll down just fine but wonít roll back up. I canít put it back up by hand. So itíll just have to stay that way until I can get around to using my insurance to get my car fixed.

Okay thatís enough bitching and moaning. On to the games!

With the Playstation essentially just a black brick on my TV stand, Iíve used this as an opportunity to play some of the retro games thatíve been part of my backlog.

Games I Played/Am Playing

Bahamut Lagoon Ė SNES (rom) Ė A pretty fun SRPG with dragons. Nonsensical story about Holy Dragons and a door to a new era. Not quite sure I followed it. Also some very strange jokes with homosexual undertones between the main character and an old man character. Weird, but I can dig it.

Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kongís Double Trouble Ė GBA Ė Itís a port of the SNES game but with some additions. Iím about 70% through the game right now. The mini-games are some kind of pointless additions. The juryís still out on the new music for some of the stages. And the new world Pacifica felt a little uninspired. Plus all beating the boss gets you is a Bonus Token. Felt a little throwaway to me. Itís still a fun game though and am enjoying it. The SNES version is still superior.

So thatís my recap for July. I would have played a lot more games if not for the console troubles. I still have a bunch of games from Goozex waiting for me: God of War Collection, BlazBlue Calamity Trigger, Legend of Dragoon, Sly 2, Sly 3, Red Dead Redemption, and Darksiders because I want to replay it on Hard to get the Platinum trophy.

Hereís to August!   read

1:02 AM on 06.29.2010

The Gaming Gods and the Universe Hate Me

Destructoid Community, Iím pissed. Sit with me for a moment and let me tell you why.

This game.

Iím not pissed because of this review. Iím not pissed because of the new battle system and the ridiculously named Paradigm Shifts. Iím not pissed at the overwrought story where the words Pulse, FalíCie, and líCie are mentioned every 3.8 seconds.

No Dtoid, Iím pissed because this game fucked up my PS3.

I got the game about a month ago. College was ending and I had time before I started working full time to play video games. I put about 22 hours into the game and was in Chapter 9. From what Iíve been told, either faceitiously Ė ďFFXIII is like food poisoning; it gets better after 24 hoursĒ or seriously -- ďAround Chapter 11 the game really opens upĒ Ė I was getting to the good parts.

I battled through a slightly annoying section and was treated to one of the gameís many in-game rendered cut scenes, except something was off. When the scene ended the screen faded to black. Instead of coming back to a new scene, it stayed that way. No sound, no picture, nothing. My PS3 was frozen. I had to manually reset it.

Thinking this to be an isolated incident I tried again the next day. I tried to get past that one cut scene 4 separate times. Froze in the same spot every time. Naturally, I contacted Square Enix. Their first reply to my email was to just copy and paste the stuff on their support website. When I contacted them again they told me I was within the 90 day warranty period but really unless I could replicate the results on another system I was shit outta luck. They suggested using a video game retailerís display system. Iím sure GameStop would let me if I asked nicely. RightÖ

I donít have a portable HD that my system recognizes (PS3 only takes FAT 32) so I canít transfer my saved data and I canít play for another 22 hours at a Game Stop.

I decided to contact Amazon. Even though the disc wasnít scratched maybe mine was defective. They paid me to send my copy back to them and sent me a new one with one day shipping. Armed with a brand new disc I loaded my file. The game froze again. Same spot.

ďIt has to be my system!Ē I said to myself. Feeling like I was making progress I contacted Sony. They were much nicer than Square and told me to call their Customer Support. I spoke to a nice woman for 20 minutes and we went through some steps including restoring factory defaults and restoring the file system. Nothing worked. My game still froze at the same spot for the 7th time now.

I received a tip from an absolutely legitimate source (that I promised would remain anonymous) that suggested I contact Square Enix again because it may be that my problem is not an isolated incident.
Iím waiting on an email reply from Square Enix. This just pisses me off because the whole thing makes no sense. I havenít had any other problems with FFXIII until then. Nor have I had any with my system and itís the 80 GB model that I got as a present in 2007.

All I want to do is finish FFXIII because aside from this super irritating issue, I like the game. Itís just a damn shame that universe and the video game gods (or devils) donít want me to play it.

To sum up because this is reaching tl;dr status: FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU   read

2:20 AM on 06.06.2010

The Great Escape: The Real Working World

The Real World. What is it exactly? Is it the place outside of video games where we live and breathe? Or is it, as people talking to recent college grads are fond of saying, the world outside of college Ė the world of work, mortgages, health insurance, raising a family? I donít know, but gaming is my escape from it.
A week ago today I graduated from the University of Redlands with a degree in English. I had to sit outside in the sweltering Southern California heat for hours and listen to speeches from the President of the University, one of the Deans, the student speaker. All of them kept mentioning the ďreal worldĒ and how proud they are of us and how we are going to do great things in it.

Of course it sounds clichť and trite because it is. Graduating college is one of the most bittersweet things Iíve ever experienced. On the one hand, Iím excited to be done with school probably forever because Iím not going to grad school. But on the other hand I made some abso-fucking-lutely awesome friends and I know itís going to be a long time before I get a chance to see them again.
Enter gaming.

I think gaming was the way all of us coped with the fact that we were moving on to new places in our lives where miles would separate us. At my school they offer a May Term Ė a one month term where you take one class for about 3-4 hours a day roughly 4 days a week. Essentially itís an excuse to just hang out and party. This yearís May Term was especially poignant because we knew it would be our last. Howíd we spend it? Playing Halo 3 together.

My friends and I donít have similar tastes in games. One of them is fanatically participating in the SC2 beta, another only plays games every now and then, while the other one prefers PC games over console games. But the one thing we always could agree on was Halo. Every day it seems Iíd get a text or call. Super short little things. ďHey man, wanna hang out? Play Halo?Ē ďYeah.Ē

It was so simple. Play Halo (or the Reach beta while it was open). Drink beer. And to be honest these Halo sessions were some of the most fun I had in the entire 4 years I spent at Redlands. Does that make me a loser? Hell no. Not in my mind. Gaming was our escape from the weight hanging over our collective heads. We knew weíd all be moving away, but it didnít matter. Those rounds calling ourselves a Mongoose gang on Valhalla, or trying to win the Betrayal Game, pushed everything aside.

Like Hellís Angels, but with space marines.

Technology is amazing. Because of it we can keep in touch easier than ever. Because of it we can stave off joining the real world, the working world, by ignoring it for a brief stint in a virtual one.

Iím going to miss it.

Obligatory pics me my friends and I (the Halo group)

Petitti and I

Team Maroon

Ojan aka Bigum


Brien has no comment   read

10:05 PM on 03.23.2010

"Deadfall" by Shaun Jeffrey 3/25 (NVGR)

Hey there Dtoiders apart from being an avid gamer Iím also a university student just about to finish his undergraduate degree in May. Thankfully last summer I had an internship at a publishing company that is turning into a full-time job once I graduate. I was an editorial intern and actually got to be a part of the editing process (for novels). The novel that I really got to edit (mostly) on my own is coming out this week - 3/25.

I know this is a shameless plug but seriously, if you like science fiction, fantasy, or horror you should check out Leucrota Press. If you feel so inclined check out the book I worked on Ė Deadfall by Shaun Jeffrey. If you like zombies I recommend it.

Alright! Thatís enough self-promotion for one day.

Also available on Amazon!   read

12:53 AM on 03.12.2010

Falling In With Fallout 3

One of my first ever articles on Destructoid was about how I found Fallout 3 impossible to get into even after multiple attempts and restarts. It an era rife with frustration and sadness. I canít bear to speak of it much more.

Fast forward to early 2010. Iím older now, wiser, more mature. Actually Iím pretty sure none of those things (while true) have any bearing on what Iím about to say. In 2010 I fell in with Fallout 3. Oh yes terrible puns; I went there.

Power armor is sexy

I donít know what it was about this play through but somehow I made it past the points where I had stopped previously and finished the game. Once I got a better gun than the starting 10mm pistol and the BB gun things really started to open up. I didnít explore every single location and I didnít do lots of the smaller quests of the ďBring me any scrap metal you findĒ variety. However I did reach level 20 and I finished all of the ďtrophiedĒ sidequests.

At least that stupid guy worshipping the bomb will finally shut up. Fucker.

Even though I generally enjoyed my play through Fallout wasnít without its faults which Iím sure people have talked about before, but itís my turn now.

Story. The story itself was fine. I enjoyed finding out about my dadís hidden past and making Project Purity a reality. My biggest complaint (again real shocker here) is the length. The sidequests took up more of my time than the main story. Bethesda did such a good job creating the world of the Capital Wasteland but the story barely takes you anywhere. If you only went to the locations dictated by the story, youíd barely explore a fraction of the games total locations. I wished that I actually had a reason other than my own desire for adventure to journey out into the Wasteland and discover some of these other places. Itís interesting when you discover these other ďsecondaryĒ places and you find that there are little tidbits, hints, and notes about why that place is important, but itís not enough. I want actual story there not just notes in a computer terminal. The audio logs in Bioshock worked so well because the gameís main story could stand up so well on its own. Both elements worked in tandem whereas in Fallout they felt rather disparate.

Combat. I donít really have a problem with V.A.T.S. I used it from time to time, but I really got annoyed when I tried to play the game a little more like a FPS. When my targeting reticule is centered on a target and I still miss because internally the game didnít ďroll the proper value for a hitĒ is incredibly frustrating. I understand that this was supposed to be more like an RPG but it just didnít work.
Now onto something I thought the game did right (kind of). The map. When you look at the local map on your Pip-Boy entrances and exits are clearly marked with where they lead to. I consider this a necessity. I wish other games like Borderlands had something like this. I donít remember where every single door leads and I want the game to help me out.

Donít get me wrong, I enjoyed Fallout 3 a lot. So much so that I bought the ďBroken SteelĒ DLC to extend the main story and up the level cap. As of yesterday I beat the main quest part of Broken Steel (which was okay Ė still not great but definitely not entirely fleshed out) but I still want to hit the level cap.

All of this has made me very interested in Fallout: New Vegas, a game which previously I probably would have ignored. Well done Bethesda.   read

10:24 PM on 02.18.2010

My Expertise: "I Win"

Iím going to be brutally honest for a moment here. Are you ready Dtoid? Here goes.

Iím pretty terrible at competitive games.

Yes Iíll win in contests of skill against most non-gamers but since I rarely play videogames with people unaccustomed to them, I tend to be matched up against my friends Ė very dedicated gamers. However this is where my expertise kicks in Ė winning.

ďHow can that be TripleZer0? You just said you werenít very good. What gives?Ē

No my previous statements were not a paradox. I suck but I win. Iíll use Super Smash Bros Brawl to illustrate my point. While my friends love playing with the ďgoodĒ characters, spending most of their time edge guarding, chain-grabbing, spiking, etc., I play characters I find ďfunĒ instead Ė even though I wonít win the match. Despite not coming in first I still get to claim that I win because I create an alternate set of rules that only applies to me.

Example: I choose Captain Falcon because heís one of my favorites and rather than worrying about getting kills, I count the number of times I successfully pull off a FALCONNN PAWWNNCH! If I am able to connect with one of those I instantly announce to the newly named losers playing with me that I won.

Before this became commonplace, I got a storm of protests along the lines of ďHow? You just lost three lives in under thirty seconds. You got last place.Ē They scoff at me, laughing at my ineptitude.

ďDoesnít matter. I Falcon Punched you. I win.Ē

Now the important thing to realize is that these rules only apply to me.

Kind of like the kid in "Big Daddy" playing poker

Once this became my thing Ė creating absurd rules and claiming satisfaction and victory if I achieve them Ė my friends began to try and copy me. My response is always the same, ďDoesnít matter. Only works for me.Ē

I change up my rules according to the character Iím playing Ė i.e. Ganon Punching people with Gannondorf, cape-ing people incessantly with Mario, etc. These rules even follow me to other games. When playing Halo 3 online with my friends I announce my triumph even if I get just one measly kill.

ďNot trolled! I win.Ē
*beer pong reference*

I realize that these rules seem annoying and downright asshole-ish, but the important thing to remember is that this is all in good fun. I donít lord my innumerable victories over my friends. I donít constantly yell out ďI win!Ē We just look at the number of kills at the end of the round, my score well below theirs. We all know who the real winner of the match was.

Me.   read

8:24 PM on 10.19.2009

All gamers are basement dwellers who don't care about anyone else...

...except for those here on Destructoid.

That's right, I'm talking about charity.

Apparently her name is Charity according to Google Images.

So I woke up on Saturday morning and went through my usual morning routine of checking my email accounts and Destructoid. I saw that Dtoid was having a live 24 hour webcam/gaming broadcast to raise money for cancer research. Slightly intrigued, I clicked the link. That one simple decision, that one simple motion of lifting and pressing down with my index finger, changed the entire course of most of my Saturday.

I was greeted by a series of different angled shots showing the interior of the Dtoid Miami office, where three individuals were playing Rockband -- Rey, Colette and Not (Bizarro) Jim Sterling. Rey was belting out his own lyrics to Rage Against the Machine while in the chat channel thing on the right, anonymous fans were screaming "VISIONS VISIONS VISIONS" over and over.

What had I got myself into?

I was hooked. Next up, Colette sang a wonderful rendition of "Welcome Home" with Rey harmonizing on the "whoas" in the outro -- of course his lyrics were better than the actual song. Puuuuutaaa Maaaaadreee, etc. You get the idea.

This was about 10am PST. I ended up staying in my room watching the feed and participating in the chat for about 4 hours or so. It was one of the more entertaining Saturday (days) I've had in a long, long time.

The best part is, it humanized Destructoid a little bit for me. See I'm fairly new to this site. My length of membership is measured in months, not years. I've been able to get a feel for some of the site's editors via their numerous humorous posts a la Jim Sterling, or via the Podtoid (see Anthony, Samit, Topher, etc.)

But a lot of the other people were something of a mystery to me. Rey was the guy with the Hispanic name and the 3's in his user name. Colette was one of the people on the side bar under associate editors. And to me, Niero was either a made up character or a Phantom of the Opera-esque character with the Mr. Destructoid helmet covering up "the gross half of his face."

Oh, if only...if only.

But seeing them interact with each other, and with the people chatting in the channel, really brought them to life for me. Plus other Dtoid editors like Topher, Brad Nicholson, Jim, Hamza all showed up to chat too. Then (I don't remember his real name) Bacalao showed up, donned a blonde wig and announced that he was Mexican Chad. The chat was then filled with shouts of AMAZING and ASOMBROSO (Spanish for amazing.) The merits of Alien Ant Farm were discussed when Jim was there. Many other great things happened - rubber horse heads, pictures of Brad's biceps, (and many others I missed) and I feel fortunate for having gotten to see them.

I didn't stay for the whole thing, but I was there enough to really a feel like Dtoid is a living breathing community. Normally, I don't have the money to donate to charities, but the whole experience was so awesome that I just had to donate what little I could. Thank you Rey, Colette, Gabe, and Niero and everyone else that participated for really fleshing out my perception of Destructoid.

The fact that we raised over $4000 shows that the stereotype of gamers being apathetic losers doesn't apply to the great Dtoid community.

Plus I got to hear Niero speak. It sounded like angels playing golden trumpets while riding flying panthers.   read

8:09 PM on 09.24.2009

The Forgotten: "I'm Lance Boyle. Welcome to MegaRace!"

Even though this game has a pretty robust Wikipedia article it remained forgotten to me until just a few days ago. So even though I've already done a Monthly Musing, I just had to share this little gem with you guys.

Let me begin with one a quote with one of my favorite PC games from the 90's: "And now, VWBT is proud to present the show that squashes reality like a bug. That's right! You better be ready to MegaRace! Annnnd here's your mega-host, Lance Boyle!"

The word mega-host should tip you off about the level of camp in this game. For those of you who don't know, MegaRace is an on rails driving/shooting game that was released in '94 for PC and Sega CD. You, the Enforcer, are a contestant on the virtual reality TV show, MegaRace. You race against virtual speed-gangs on futuristic tracks and the goal is to either pass or destroy all the enemy cars before you finish 3 laps.

When you finish a level, you get access to that gangs' car. Each car has different handling, armor, and weapons so you can choose whichever one fits your playing style. The levels take you to the hills of future San Francisco (New San), an underwater level, some industrial levels in space, and even to the twisting inside of a particle accelerator.

For the record, the particle accelerator level was pretty hard. I'd always seem to get second place.

Scattered on the surface of the tracks are different icons that represent either power ups or power downs. Some increase your ammo capacity while others reverse your controls for a few seconds. The worst one was on the "last chance" Tokyo track. One of the icons takes your weapons away completely, making it so you can only ram or pass the other cars to destroy them. Hitting that icon was like instant death. It was practically impossible to win without your weapons.

But all those things are secondary to the best/worst aspect of this game. That's right I'm talking about the one, the only....Laaaaance Boyle!

To this day, I can still remember some of his catch phrases and inflections. Portrayed by actor Christian Erickson, Lance Boyle was an over the top, snarky, and ultimately cheesy game show host who delivered terrible one-liners. What's hilarious is that the actor returned to "reprise his role" for the 2 sequels. ('96 and '01 respectively) I mean the guy was in a few other video games but if I hadn't seen that on Wikipedia, I wouldn't have known him other than the MegaRace guy.

Seriously. While I was writing this I went and watched the intro video on YouTube. The guy's over the top B-grade acting skills fit the game's aesthetic perfectly. They kinda suck. And looking back, so does the game. I'm pretty sure most of my perceived enjoyment of the game is coming from a pretty hardcore pair of retro goggles. Still my brothers, my dad, and I all spent hours playing this game back on our Windows 3.x computer.

One of the saddest days for me was when I found the old CD a few years after we stopped playing it. I installed it, but the disc was scratched so all the video sequences stuttered. Lance's dialogue came out worse than Porky Pig. However, apparently the game is up on Good Old Games.

The bad graphics, pretty bad gameplay, and awesome (read terrible) host clearly cement this game's place among the legions of forgotten games. As much as I may have loved MegaRace back then, I don't think I could sit through this type of stuff again to replay it.


Skip about a more than a minute to see the Lancey goodness. Photoshop skills by Cadtalfryn   read

2:57 PM on 09.01.2009

L.A.I.R. - Lame Aerial Interactive Ruckus

Yes I know this is years late, but bear with me. Follow me on a young man's quest for greatness and videogame satisfaction. Weep as his hopes and dreams are dashed on the cruel, jagged rocks of reality. Ready? Let's go!

Lair. This single word is the name of one of the most cringe worthy titles of the PS3's library. When it shipped, it came with a terrible, terrible control scheme. You were only able to use SIXAXIS and analog controls were not an option. I didn't own a PS3 when Lair came out but once I got mine, I remembered reading the terrible reviews and swore I would avoid Lair like the plague.

Then came a day a few months ago when something in the back of my brain clicked. I thought I read somewhere that Lair got analog controls via an update. I did some research and found out my inkling was correct. After some more research, trying to find out what people had said about the game once the controls were fixed. A lot of the people seemed to be mostly positive in their comments so against my initial warnings, I decided to purchase a used copy for $10. I mean, it has dragons in it right? Dragons are cool.

I was hoping my experience would go something like this:

Yes I know that comic is being sarcastic, but I bought Lair a few weeks ago. I was young and foolishly naive.

Even with the new controls. Lair is a steaming pile of dragon shit.

The first alarm bells went off in my mind when I booted up the game (after installing the updates). You have to sit through over a minute long cut scene that's advertising the THX sound -- the one with the fat plumber looking robot plugging in a cow thing into the THX logo. I've seen that before at the movies, but you can't skip it and you have to sit through it every time you start the game. Annoying to say the least. Also the Factor 5 logo takes forever to load (and it's also unskippable)

I started the first mission and was impressed by the graphics -- they looked pretty enough on my SD TV so I imagine they'd look good on an HDTV. Once the gameplay started the problems weren't far behind.

Whoever came up with these gameplay mechanics needs to be drawn and quartered. There's a small targeting reticule that turns red when you move it over an enemy, but that's all there is for a HUD. I can understand that because I'm on a dragon, not piloting an F-18 or something. But at the same time, there's no map or compass in the bottom corner of the screen. The only thing that shows up to tell you where to go is a yellow arrow that appears at the top of the screen. It gets confusing because the arrow doesn't tilt very well to tell you what altitude your objective is at.

Next up comes the combat and camera controls. You can shoot fire at enemy dragons but it really only kills the weaker ones. The game tells you you should lock on to enemy dragons and hit circle -- it'll make your dragon dash over to them. Time slows down as your mount claws the enemy. During this time you're allowed to rotate the camera and lock on to other nearby enemy dragons to chain together combo dash attacks. The problem is -- the camera controls are terrible! I've only been able to get a two-combo. Pushing down on the right analog stick should make my camera look upwards (I have the Y axis inverted) but instead somebody mapped the "Look behind you" camera control to that specific motion. So here I am trying to find more dragons to attack when suddenly my view snaps to look behind me. My dragon finishes the attack and the slow-mo goes away. Combo failed.

My last big complaint is this. Since there's no HUD, it's really difficult to tell different dragon types apart. I'm supposed to be tracking down Dark Dragons but all I can see are a shit-ton of flying lizards. There's no way to highlight mission objectives (like the Dark Dragons) so I know which ones to go after.

I've played it through to the fifth level and I can't go on. There may be analog controls, but they don't fix shoddy gameplay mechanics. I think Factor 5 cleverly hid an acronym in the game's title -- Lame Aerial Interactive Ruckus Ah foolish optimism and alluring promises, you've steered me wrong once more.   read

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