By Kevin Douglas Femmel
(Sept. 23rd 2011) — One of my most anticipated games of 2012 is the sequel to a game that I almost missed in 2007. Warhawk blasted onto the scene in 2007 as a much needed boost for the amount of activity my PS3 would get on a daily basis. Warhawk was a third person shooter focusing on aerial combat, as well as an array of insane possibilities for comedic deaths via ground combat. Read after the break to see the first 5 minutes of the single player campaign for Starhawk and see if adding a story mode to this stellar online game was really worth the wait or not.
Warhawk was one of my favorite online multiplayer titles in recent years. It featured almost the perfect balancing of arcade style action and a hidden depth to surviving the onslaught of 31 other players gunning you down. Warhawk featured a lock on mechanic that would lock onto the closest moving player, much like Grand Theft Auto. Some felt this weaken the game as it made it far too easy for players to kill you whether they had any skill at the game or not. Others believed this was a good way to balance the multiplayer.
Also, the knife in Warhawk wasn’t the best weapon. You’re avatar would only slice enemies directly in front of you, and they could easily get out of the way because all characters in Warhawk moved at a very fast pace. Jumping was pretty much key to staying alive for long in Warhawk.
Now, onto my time playing Starhawk. I did not get to try the aerial combat, as the beginning portions of the single player campaign get you familiar with the new game mechanics like setting up various devices to aid you and your team. This adds an even deeper level of strategy inspired by classic tower defense games. The levels available to play consisted of mostly third person shooting segments on foot where multiple enemies tried to murder you asap while trying to build something of their own.
Immediately I noticed one thing when I aimed at the opposing team. It was much harder to hit an enemy in Starhawk then it had been in Warhawk. Well, I suppose it isn’t harder. Instead of the on screen cursor automatically following the nearest person at the press of a button, you can now only snap to a person a la Call of Duty. The character can still move away and out of your auto lock. Gone are the days when a person in Warhawk was only going to be saved by entering a building or finding something to block your point of view of them. In Starhawk you can break the other player’s auto lock on by simply sprinting in the opposite direction or taking cover.
Weapons felt more impressive in Starhawk then they did in its predecessor. They felt heavier to operate. My character, whose name I really couldn’t make out due to no sound coming from any of the TVs set up, couldn’t jump to great heights like the people you played as in Warhawk. He can jump a certain extent, but not nearly as high as before. He can’t use a nearly unbreakable auto lock, and he takes a bit longer to reload his weapon than in the last game as well. All in all, this feels like it is Warhawk with a heavier character, but you still have as much mobility as you’ve ever had.
The graphics in the demo looked pretty good for the fact that this game may still be more than six months away from release. While they aren’t going to win any graphics threads on your favorite message board, they are more than serviceable. The maps are huge, and have a lot of space to explore. Explosions looked nice, but the lack of destructible environments is a bit underwhelming as games like Battlefield and Red Faction have shown how much fun collapsing a building from its weak points can be. It doesn’t detract from Starhawk as it already has so much going for it. It’s adding tower defense to an already proven formula so I can understand why it wouldn’t feature a game changing feature like fully destructible environments. But the potential is hard to ignore, hopefully they can add it in future installments.
You can set up various structures like a supply depot, and other game altering towers that can change the tide of the game. The supply depot was really the only one available early on in the game, and when built it brought on some allied troops who aid you in your fire fights.
Overall, Starhawk is a straight forward evolution to the terrific game that was Warhawk. The bulk of the value you get from buying Starhawk will be its multiplayer, but the single player campaign isn’t something you should forget about. It seems to serve as more than just training for online frag fests, as there are animated cut scenes with static images accompanied by voice overs. Starhawk will dominate your PS3 when it arrives in 2012 not just for its online functionality, but also for its campaign that at the very least will provide hours of mindless shooting fun.
Comment on this article and you’ll be entered into our Starhawk contest. We have a Starhawk shirt to give away (only one, and it’s a large) as well as multiple codes for the Rift Hunter multiplayer skin when the game releases. Both of these were only given away at Fantastic Fest Arcade 2011 and if you weren’t there you aren’t likely to ever get them. Leave a comment using your email and we will randomly select winners, one winner for the shirt, and multiple winners for the codes for the skin.