Lair and Heavenly Sword - what went wrong?

September 4, 2007

So the results are in. With two of PlayStation 3's biggest titles now being reviewed around the world, it has to be said they haven't been as impressive as their initial promise suggested. We're talking scores as low as 40 for Lair and 6/10 for Heavenly Sword. How could such massive releases be so disappointing?

Didn't someone look at Lairsomewhere along the line and say "Er... this really isn't working"? And why does Heavenly Sword feel so disappointing despite its beauty? We take a look at concensus opinion across the games review media and condense it into four main issues that can be learned from by all software houses.

1) Unfinished business
We know it's important to meet deadlines and that spiralling development costs can sometimes put developers out of business. But when it comes to a possible 'killer app' for a system, surely it makes sense to wait until it really is finished, optimised and ready.

Take Grand Theft Auto IV as an example - seriously, how long ago did you last hear someone complain about the delay? Exactly. It was devastating, of course, but people do get over it and can rest assured the end result will be worth the wait. Heavenly Sword and Lair both have frame-rate issues and tearing, which isn't really what we expect from next-gen machines.

What the critics said:
"As polished as the game is 90 per cent of the time, there's a lingering feeling the game was deemed 'good enough' rather than fully honed in all areas." - Eurogamer on Heavenly Sword

"It's obvious that all the development effort went into Lair's production values, rather than into making it fun to play." - Gamespot on Lair

Justin Towell

Justin was a GamesRadar staffer for 10 years but is now a freelancer, musician and videographer. He's big on retro, Sega and racing games (especially retro Sega racing games) and currently also writes for Play Magazine,, PC Gamer and TopTenReviews, as well as running his own YouTube channel. Having learned to love all platforms equally after Sega left the hardware industry (sniff), his favourite games include Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams, Zelda BotW, Sea of Thieves, Sega Rally Championship and Treasure Island Dizzy.