StarHawk - The Verdict

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Still, were it simply a single-player game StarHawk would be a classic

seven-out-of-tenner. With its cel-shaded, comic-book style graphics it

looks decent enough, but hardly amazing, the art and design feels a bit

generic, and once you get the hang of the general mission structure the

action can grow a tad repetitive.

Enemy AI is reasonable but hardly that

intelligent, and once you’ve seen one dusty planet or industrial

orbiting station, you’ve pretty much seen them all. It’s an entertaining

shooter with a great tactical twist, but not the sort of thing you’d

excitedly point to friends and demand that they play.

StarHawk

Building on the Battlefield

However,

just like WarHawk, StarHawk is fundamentally a multiplayer game, albeit

one with one of the most engaging single-player modes in any

multiplayer-focused game. The campaign is really a tutorial, and it’s

once you take the action online that StarHawk starts to look like

something a little more special.

With up to sixteen players on each

side and large maps to explore, plus all the jetbikes, tanks,

transforming mech jets and armed jeeps of the single player game,

StarHawk is the closest thing we have to a sci-fi Battlefield.

Encompassing

Capture the Flag, Team Deathmatch and an objective-seizing mode called

Zones, it doesn’t really push the boundaries in terms of game styles,

but the simple addition of base building makes it a different

experience. When it at its best, StarHawk can be a real spectacle, as

screaming Hawks dive in amidst beam-turret fire to take down defences so

that fast-moving guys on jetbikes or jeeps can race through to capture

the flag.

It’s also surprisingly well-balanced. Just when you think

Hawks and tanks threaten to dominate, you realise that one guy with a

rocket launcher can take these down with a little luck and skill, while

deploying sensible defences can also turn the tide.

StarHawk

It’s a

game that encourages multiple play styles. Lone-wolf players will take

to the Hawks or find sniping positions, but the addition of base

building makes a defensive role just as interesting and valuable. In

practice, though everyone can build providing there is rift energy in

the central pool, not everyone does. Guys on jetbikes have limited

offensive capabilities, but can make quick raids on enemy positions, and

the maps encourage a range of different approaches. StarHawk is tight

where it needs to be, but flexible enough to fit your preferences.

Irritations
Of

course, even Battlefield isn’t great every game, and the same goes for

StarHawk. Camping snipers can be a nuisance, though they’re easy

pickings for a talented Hawk jockey, and you’ll occasionally find your

team-mates wasting resources unnecessarily, or doing the classic

request-a-tank-then-drive-off-without-any-passengers thing.

There are

Capture the Flag matches where everyone gets so enmeshed in assault and

defence that they actually forget about the flags, and tanks and Hawks

camping on the spawn ground can also be a menace. For every problem,

though, there’s nearly always a solution. For a start, players respawn

in a pod hurtling towards the planet surface, and if you’re smart about

it you can actually steer the pod so that it hits the camping tank and

takes out all inside it – revenge can be a wonderful thing.

StarHawk

Co-op Play
If

you tire of the competitive action, there are also co-op modes

available, one being a co-op take on the campaign, the other being a

Horde-style mode where players work together to defeat waves of

Outcasts. The base building mechanics are perfect for this kind of

thing, so it’s no surprise that it works extremely well.

StarHawk

even makes it very, very easy to get into games, or even switch from

one game to another with a control panel and browser that are never more

than a couple of button presses away. It might all seem very simple,

but a lot of thought has clearly gone into nearly every aspect of the

game.

StarHawk

This doesn’t make StarHawk an essential PS3 shooter. There

will be plenty of players who might give it a go, dislike the new

dynamics, and return to Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, Killzone 3 or

whatever else floats their boat. But if it works for you, then you’ll

love it. It might only develop a niche fanbase, but StarHawk is the kind

of game that gets a loyal one. If you’re looking for a mostly online

shooter with a difference, then that fanbase might just include you.

Verdict
While

StarHawk isn’t a AAA shooter in the class of Resistance 3 or Killzone

3, it’s a brave and interesting effort that makes a better job of

integrating RTS mechanics than similar games have in the past. The

single-player campaign is short and slightly repetitive and the art

style uninspired, but when it comes to delivering great multiplayer

action on a sci-fi battlefield, StarHawk comes into its own.

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