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Developer:
Digital Leisure
Publisher: Digital Leisure
Platform: DVD, PC
Release Date: November 2004

by Jason Ferguson




The name Dragonís Lair has become somewhat of a household name among gamers. The original was a beloved classic, and weíve seen many incarnations since. The newest offering is Dragonís Lair III, which supposedly takes all of the excitement of the original game and combines it with more intense fighting and dramatic boss fights. Unfortunately, the game doesnít deliver on any of it.


The premise is simple: You are the bumbling knight, Dirk the Daring. The evil Wizard, Mordroc, has kidnapped the fair Princess Daphne and you are her only hope. You must now venture into the lair, fight monsters and solve puzzles in an attempt to rescue the princess from the evil Mordroc.


The gameplay is extremely simplistic, although not always very easy. You can choose from an easy or a hard mode. In easy mode you have unlimited life and a diamond appears to help you out with your timing. In hard mode, your lives are limited and you have to do all the timing on your own.


Basically, all you do in the game is press a button from time to time when the little diamond appears indicating that you must perform an action. Youíll often spend a good deal of time sitting and watching as Dirk continues on with the game on his own and you just have to watch. Dirk will run into a room, grab an artifact, carry it out of the room and continue walking all on his own. Then, when you see an enemy, heíll pull out his sword and you must hit the action button to attack. Through that whole time you interact with the game only once. Another time you'll come across three doors. Dirk will pause as if deciding which door to go through, but will then proceed without giving you a say in the matter. Why present the option if you have no choice of what to do? The interactions are simply too far between, and the game gets boring quickly as you have to watch Dirk run around the castle. For some reason, enemies occasionally drop items, but seeing as you have no direct control over Dirk, you cannot pick the items up nor do anything with them.


I understand that, in the tradition of the series, you shouldnít have direct control over Dirk. After all, itís not an action game. But watching Dirk perform action after action while wishing that you were doing SOMETHING gets old pretty quick. Allowing the player to guide Dirkís action without directly controlling is just fine, but Dragonís Lair III spends too much time making you wait between actions.


If that werenít bad enough, the actions you are to perform arenít always that obvious, and one slip-up is pretty much your death. A fireball may be moving at you, and you obviously know you need to do somethingÖ. But what? Do I move right, or left? How do you know? Basically, you discover by the process of elimination, which gets old quick. It was boring the first time and itís even more boring the second time around. On top of that, the death screen seems to take forever, and when you keep dying youíll grow tired of the death screen extremely quickly.


Also, upon making a choice, the game seems to stall while completing the task. It does this with nearly every task I encountered. In no way does the animation run smoothly, and in no way does the game flow. At times youíll even find the CD skipping and youíll jump ahead a room. Actually, I don't know why I'm complaining about that, because skipping it is actually better than playing it.


The game is available for PC and on DVD format. The nice thing about the DVD format is that itís playable on the PS2 and Xbox. Be careful, though, because hitting the wrong button might rewind your DVD and force you to start over.


I canít say Iíd recommend Dragonís Lair III to anyone. If youíre in love with the series then it may be worth checking out since itís cheap, but chances are itíll just make you like the series less. There's a demo available at the link below if you want to see if the game is to your liking. Aside from that, play it at your own risk.


Final Grade: 20%


Dragon's Lair III Demo: Click Here




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