Lair - updated hands-on

Stomping is the least of your dragon's talents, of course; the thing is a dynamo of ruin, able to spit volleys of target-tracking fireballs (their size depending on how far you allow a little onscreen meter to fill up) or spew searing jets of powerful, short-range flame. It can also slam headlong into aerial enemies or, on the ground, claw and bite baddies to death. But what's especially fun is just targeting ground units from the air - including horses and giant bull-creatures - at which point your dragon will swoop in and grab them in its talons, and you can hurl them into their comrades for massive damage.

Occasionally though, you'll get locked into a fight with some big bastard that can't be taken down easily, and if it gets close-up, you can send it to hell with bites, claw strikes or jets of flame to the face. Sometimes, you might even get to jerk the controller around to tug off a creature's head in a gruesome display. Fun times.

Raw violence aside, Lair's strength so far seems to lie in epic, cinematic set-piece battles. There's the aforementioned mile-long snake - a formidable boss that takes a lot of time, effort and a couple of God of War-style "quicktime" moments to kill - but some of the other levels we played were even cooler. One of these was a fortress in the middle of an ocean, basically just a gargantuan black obelisk ringed with enormous carved faces. The mouths were gates holding back squadrons of enemy dragons, and the eyes shot beams of white light that we had to avoid on pain of getting pounded with explosives.

Once we'd shot out the eyes in each face from a safe angle, the mouths would open and give us an opportunity to fly in and yank down a hanging brazier. This set off a massive steam explosion that, for whatever reason, we had to re-trigger a few times before the place went up in flames. Still, it was appreciably badass.

Mikel Reparaz
After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.