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Lair - updated hands-on

It's been a few months since we got our last close-up look at Lair, the dragon-riding simulation that some thought would launch alongside the PS3, and news on the game has been sparse since then. But with its July release date drawing closer, we've gotten another crack at its fiery, high-flying action, and this time we've come away with a much better idea of what's lying in wait.

We also got a few more plot details; Lair, as you may or may not already know, is the story of Rohn, a dragon-riding knight fighting for the devout, high-minded Asylians in a war with the poorer but more technologically inclined Mokai. There are undercurrents about global warming running through the storyline, with rampant volcanic eruptions making the world gradually more unlivable - something the Asylians blame on the Mokai and their "blasphemous" steam engines. There's also political corruption, double-crosses, enemies with noble intentions and all the other cool things you'd expect from an anti-war drama.

But honestly, what Lair is really about is hopping onto the back of a bloody huge lizard and finding beautiful and savage ways to kill stuff. Everything in Lair is rendered beautifully, and there's a lot of it - the skies are crisscrossed by angry-looking enemy dragons, crowds of armored soldiers mill around on the ground and flotillas of warships bob around on the water. And whether it's those hapless infantrymen, the giant dragons or a couple of mile-long, armor-plated water snakes, they'll all go down spectacularly with the right combination of fireballs, clawing and midair ramming.

Like in our first attempt at playing the game, Lair makes extensive use of the Sixaxis pad's motion controls; when you're in flight, just tilt the controller the way you want your dragon to move, and it'll follow suit. It takes a little getting used to, but the less we thought about it, the easier it was. Thankfully, the motion controls barely apply when you land on the ground - you'll move with the analog sticks, and shaking the controller just makes your dragon shake the ground with a deadly stomp.

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