Game Review – Starhawk

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Warhawk for the PlayStation 3 was a tremendous foray into the online only genre for Incognito Entertainment and was a mainstay for multi-player gamers for years. Fast-forward to 2012 and LightBox Interactive’s Starhawk. Different vision, mostly the same team but, does that make for a great game or will Starhawk be forever lost in space?

I first got my PlayStation 3 as a gift for Christmas in 2007 and Warhawk was the second game I bought for it and it may have been the best investment I made in that first year of PS3 ownership. Warhawk was very different from anything we’d ever seen before on a console combining flight and ground combat to make up some crazy battles. There was something missing from that game though, it was an intense and a lot of fun but, after doing it so many times, things just felt kind of stale. Luckily, everything that Warhawk missed, Starhawk seemed to add.

Single player mode, it’s the one thing that Warhawk seemed to really lack when it was released years ago. Starhawk comes back with a brand new single player mode that really prepares you for battle in one of the many multiplayer modes the game has to offer. The single player mode is more of a tutorial than a full-fledged game and gamers won’t have much trouble completing it nor will they spend much time doing so. The story if forgettable and follows Emmett Graves through his quest to reclaim rift energy harvesting sites from scabs. The whole thing prepares you for the new build n’ battle system that Lightbox implemented which changes the battlefield on the fly in a huge way.

Emmett Graves, the main character in the single player story mode.

Speaking of the rift energy and build n’ battle system, the multiplayer relies on it so you better understand what you’re dealing with before you enter the MP game or you’ll be left in the dust by more skilled and higher ranked players. The rift energy fills up a bar at the top of the screen and each module that you want to build costs different amounts of energy with a bubble shield being the highest and a standard wall being the lowest. Players can build a massive fortress out of walls and shields with watchtowers, beam turrets, hawk launch pads, and auto turrets to defend you base. If you want to take the fight to the other team, Razorback jeeps, Sidewinder motorcycles, and a bunker can be built to help your team out. Be wary of opposing team members though as anybody can come up and destroy the structures you worked so hard to create, even the shield doesn’t keep foes out (though it does keep shots from penetrating) so, don’t let the enemy run rampant inside your base or you might just be seeing it become theirs.

Hawks actually transform into warplanes from a mech-type form which can be used for stepping on soldiers and firing main guns from a standing position.

The vehicles in Starhawk seem to borrow a lot from other games, more specifically, Halo. I found a lot of similarities that borrow from the Xbox franchise, like the Sidewinder to the Ghost and the Razorback to the Warthog which isn’t a bad thing as those are both great vehicles, they just seem extremely similar in movement and function. The arsenal you have at your disposal is pretty generic, nothing really stands out in terms of weapons. You have your standard assailt rifle, sniper rifle, shotgun, knife, rocket launcher and then there’s things like the welding torch that can only be found on the map strangely enough. Each provides some great positives but, it felt like LightBox went a little light in the weaponry.

A Razorback getting shot by a Hawk, something you’ll see a lot.

Starhawk also includes a handy little skill point system in which you have to perform a certain task and have enough points to unlock the corresponding skill. This is great for players who want more from the game and want the extra edge, only one can be equipped at any one time though so, it might be wise to consider what game-type you’re in before choosing. The tasks can be pretty difficult so this may be a very frustrating thing for novice players at times but, rest-assured it will help if you can manage to unlock some.

The game includes 4 main games modes in Capture the Flag, Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, and Zones. Zones is easily the most fun considering you get to build a load of bases and try to defend them as the opposing team tries to get them back. There is also a co-op survival mode that you’ll have to invite someone to as you won’t find it in the game list. Another omission is the lack of a matchmaking feature which is puzzling to say the least considering the clean-cut multiplayer menu that LightBox created although gamers won’t have trouble finding games with the game list provided.

Split-screen gives players a nice mini-map and really uses the screen in the best way possible.

The big problem I had with Starhawk that frustrated me to no end was the spawn campers. Not only can one team be more dominant but, they can place a spawn beacon very close to your base which can lead to a lot of problems. If the opposition has any tanks or hawk pads, you’re going to have bombs coming at you faster than you can come to life, and that big target of where you’re going to land doesn’t help. I had a ton of fun playing this but, I had 4 or 5 games that I had to drop out of because of this problem. It needs to be addressed.

Starhawk was a great experience and has a lot more variety than Warhawk did. If you’re looking for a good multiplayer title than I advise you to pick this one up, you won’t regret it. This is a multiplayer game folks, the single player is there only to appease the people who gave Warhawk a hard time due to the lack of such a mode. Just make sure you find a well-balanced game.

 

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