Let’s face it; there’s a distinct lack of space westerns out there. Firefly, Cowboy Bebop, Borderlands… and now Starhawk. The spiritual successor to the cult hit Warhawk, Starhawk is a welcome iteration to the online-only multiplayer dog-fighting shooter that excellently captured frantic aerial combat in its time. So how do you improve on a game that already offers third-person shooting, driving and aerial dogfights?
Starhawk features a bevy of new tricks, such as the new “Build & Battle” mechanic that allows you to build turrets, bases, garages and launch pads on the fly (no pun intended) much like an RTS game. In addition to this is the popular level-up system found in most online competitive games these days to add value to your efforts. Oh, and now your hawks can transform into mechs. Mechs, people.
At the moment the beta is only available to PlayStation Plus members, but will soon be rolling out to wider audiences. We at PSN Fans have been playing around with the beta and the following are just some of our impressions:
I like battling robots. I like aerial combat. I like blowing stuff up. Starhawk so far seems to be knocking each of these points right out of the sky, and those are just a couple of features the game has in store. With the Build & Battle system, artillery, fortifications and deployments drop right out of the sky and quickly build at your feet allowing you to change and engage combat at your discretion. This is a massively dynamic system that can change the match’s outcome at any given moment.
What makes this system particularly compelling is that players can self-assign their role to the team on the fly. If you’re not much of an offensive player, then just hang back and hold the fort with a beam turret. If you’re thirsty for action, build a launch pad and take to the skies. With so much craziness going on in up to 32 player matches, there’s always something to do for anyone at any skill level. Being someone who played quite a bit of Warhawk (and died a lot) a couple of years after launch, the improvements made in Starhawk are quite substantial and add some much needed balance for the hardest of core games right through to those looking to get their feet wet.
It also helps that the game looks and handles well. The shooting is snappy, aerial combat can be adjusted and the visuals are striking. Be sure to jump into this game and try it out when you can.
No matter how many times I tried, I could never get invested in 2007’s Warhawk. From the mediocre and underdeveloped ground game to its dull visual approach, there was just too little to keep me interested. The community that had been apparently eating and sleeping hawks and automatic weapons made it pretty damn difficult to have any fun, too. While apprehensive, I came into the Starhawk beta with an open mind and a willingness to learn. I was prepared to push through the early and awkward period of dying over and over again in order to grasp the mechanics, but happily, this struggle was absent. Success came early and often, and it wasn’t just the outcome of dumb luck. LightBox Interactive has crafted a more hospitable and overall better game.
Ground combat no longer feels like a race to the nearest fast-moving vehicle. The third-person shooting is sharp, responsive and quick – allowing for many more tactical options. Sprinting from one end of any of the more focused and trimmed maps to the other can be viable, even if it takes some time. The “Build n’ Battle” feature adds another layer of depth, as points earned from combat can be used to drop turrets and bases from the heavens. This is the feature that slaps a big ol’ RTS label on the game, but its offensive nature and reliance on quick thinking make it a welcome addition. You can drop a turret in the front lines, build a station that spits out hawks in the back, or even create new places to spawn in the middle of the map.
Even without being a master of the air quite yet (I do more damage to myself than others), I’ve had a wonderful experience in the Starhawk beta. The improved multiplayer, along with the promise of a full single-player campaign, has me sold. With its release and my birthday in May, I have a feeling I’ll be eating a nice hunk of chocolate cake in the sky this spring.
I didn’t own a PS3 when Warhawk was released and never had the opportunity to try it out. Even having heard about Starhawk, it was never a game that grabbed my attention. Until now.
After spending some time with the Starhawk beta I can safely say that it has sold me on the game. The third person combat works well and is definitely fun, but the inclusion of a resource and construction system really makes this game feel like it can stand out from others in the genre. The ability to construct turrets, fortifications, and vehicle facilities helps to add a layer of strategy and variety to the traditional third person shooter experience.
The Hawks themselves are awesome and I love just watching the transformation sequence when they switch from mech warrior to fighter jet. Flying the Hawks around in combat is great and even if, like me, you aren’t that great in the sky, it’s still fun to spray bullets at enemies on the ground or to settle for destroying the enemy buildings.
Before trying the Starhawk beta I had little interest in playing the game. Now that I’ve spent some time with it I look forward to its release.
Have you been playing in the beta too? Got something you’d like to say? Let us hear it in the comments below!