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Saturday, August 2nd, 2003  

Dragon's Lair 3D Review  |  Published: 01-08-2003

Returning to the Lair

With almost twenty years in existence, the franchise that is Dragon's Lair comes back to show that it's cartoonish fantasy gig still has some steam to compete with the high-demanding crowd of today. Dragon's Lair 3D: Return to the Lair brings the classic feel of early-years gaming with an updated look but falls apart in between.

Every thing has been modernized except for the story. Dirk the Daring is still sent to rescue the princess Daphne from the evil clutches of Mordrock and his dragon, Singe. There's a whole new look for the castle and some awesome effects that coincide with the artistry of Dragon's Lair. But Return to the Lair stumbles over the hurdles of visual perfection with some major flaws.

Graphic errors. No sound. Design problems. These are the main problems Dragon's Lair 3D bears. Throughout the gameplay Dirk the Daring suffers through an incomprehensible amount of texturing errors that even affects the gameplay. Determining whether there's a solid to stand on or not should not be a puzzle. Untextured solids also show that there wasn't enough time to test Dragon's Lair, or Dragonstone was too careless. The lack of existence of any sound effects comes from a DirectX compatibility error, yet thankfully the music was enough accompaniment to play through the game from beginning to end.

Plus the design flaws shows exactly how much time went into Dragon's Lair 3D: Return to the Lair control and interface design. Very little. Control binds, the usage of "Essences" (powers that give Dirk specific abilities), and character states (such as the state of having a sword equipped and not) mix together to form a poisonous potion. Dirk should still be able to climb ledges regardless of a weapon is equipped. There should be hotkeys for Essences. The delay in controls such as the time between jumps and changing weapons forces players to slow down because Dirk can't jump quickly enough. This hinders what could have been a satisfying action-packed gameplay.

Dragonstone Software's work of mediocrity does have a few highlights. Hardcore Dragon's Lair fans will appreciate this title. It doesn't bend to any high technological standards, allowing its story and gameplay to remains true to it's previous title. Puzzles can intrigue players without frustrating them. Its eye-pleasing graphics gives the great feel of the Dragon's Lair universe and its seven-hour gameplay is long enough to call it a good playing experience.

If Dragonstone Software spent more time on the technology, Dragon's Lair 3D would have been most entertaining. The control issues can be bypassed if those just want to go with the flow. But this isn't the case. Instead Dragon's Lair 3D: Return to the Lairs lacks the fundamentals every good game should have. The story and basic gameplay are there but the execution is poor. Only if some more time was dedicated to the software's end of design rather the gameplay's...

Return to the Lair can be satisfying for fans, but it lays closely to the edge of unacceptability. It's gameplay is short enough to endure to the end and to ignore its design glitches, but players searching for an adventure game of this sort should overlook Draon's Lair 3D and find a game more concretely made.

Gameplay: 50% - A fair game to play and somewhat fun. Can be frustrating and tiring at times from interface problems.

Graphics: 45% - Interesting art concept, very true to previous games. Graphics errors plague levels.

Sound: 40% - DirectX problems all over the place. Music is a good addition to the overall mood of the game and non-repetitive.

Control and Interface: 40% - Not well-planned, causing control to be rough.

Tilt: 55% - Had great potential to be extremely entertaining. Pleasant level design and short load times.


Article Info     

Kevin 'Exodus' Weinberg

Article Type:


Developer / Publisher:
Dragonstone Software / Ubi Soft

Pentium II 300 Mhz
500 MB HD Space
Windows XP/ME/2000/98

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