For those of you that took the time to read my last review, you’ll recall an opinionated view of mine that the games industry has spent recent times bleeding itself dry of innovation. With copy cat games and evasion of innovation, So its good to see something new, with a new twist.
Starhawk is Lightbox Interactives ‘spiritual successor’ to the critically acclaimed Warhawk.
Warhawk was a third-Person Shooter in a futuristic world based on technology not to dissimilar from that in real existence with 32 player matches involving aerial vehicles , ground vehicles and “Warhawks”.
A Warhawk was essentially a jet that could alter its trajectory to function more like a helicopter. essentially it was to jets what Osprey’s are to helicopters. Now this was different and functioned well. It provided depth to dogfights and added extra tactical choices for a pilot. On top of this the maps would consist of varying bases and outposts caked across the map for players to take control of; providing their team with extra spawn locations and extra vehicles (as well as a tactical position from which to launch attacks) The game didn’t work on a class system and instead stemmed back to a more original approach… you collected weapons across the battlefield, and essentially could end up carrying all the weapons and not even breaking a sweat. ‘That’s unrealistic’ you say, well I never said the game was going for authenticity to the reality you live in, On top of this to avoid a game where you can’t differentiate yourself; players are provided with a number of ways to customise their vehicles and character along with ranks and unlocks to keep it fresh and pimp your guy out with the latest threads that will surely make him the bane of all his friends existence; as typically with all games now’a days you probably won’t notice your friends latest customization choices as you’ll probably be to busy dropping a bomb on his head… or plummeting into an air mine but it’s still nice to have the option….I guess.
Starhawk is a game set on a distant colony on the far outskirts of human settled planets in a place called the frontier. Essentially everyone is there for something known as rift energy. essentially its a valuable energy source. You see the game runs on an idea which puts it in parallel conjunction with a ” Wild West” concept; the frontier is a poorly policed set of colony planets which essentially function as the wild west did.
So I guess if I’ve summarised for you that this is the wild west, then you can rightly assume that this rift energy; is the gold in the gold rush, and as the miners rush in, they get reckless to compete with each other. This leads to cataclysmic accidents which leave those that come in contact with rift energy; deformed and mutated into a sub-species known as the Outcast.
Single player wise the BETA is light because it covers the multiplayer only, but this game will include a single player portion when it launches unlike its predecessor; Warhawk, which simply had online functions and gameplay.
Gameplay the game operates on semi-fixed spawns with you hailing from the sky, although more limited to spawn areas set up by your team, and an arcade style TPS system. the action is usually fast-paced and very variable dependant on your choice of transportation and mobility. While its predecessor has Warhawk’s, Starhawk has well…. Starhawks.
These are essentially a jet like vehicle which can transform into a walker unit. Much of Warhawk’s ideas, concepts and approaches have been implemented in this game. But there is a major new breakthrough which functions smoothly and effectively and definitely adds to the overall experience of the game; this feature is known as ‘build and battle’. It is the building element of an RTS game without the constant micro-management which is usually displayed in the RTS genre. Yes essentially this new system allows you to create and manipulate your own bases. With structures also being destructible to ensure the battlefield is always changing and manipulating. This applies a variety of tactics to players and an overall diversification of gameplay within shooters as we know it. Essentially the map becomes your canvas ; the game has a reasonable building cap for each side to ensure everything doesn’t get out of control and make you feel like your watching a game of Pac Man. The material used to construct these buildings can be obtained from your spawn-points or from barrels around the map that re-spawn overtime
On top of this in the most recent version of the beta the skills system was implemented which essentially allows you to enter battle with certain perks. The guns however will still be pick-ups in the game and most are made available through different building types. The buildings composed are a variety ranging from walls and base defenses, all the way to vehicles and weapon buildings.
Essentially you can build anywhere within reason, and there is much pleasure to be had in dropping a building on an enemy’s head to crush them. As for the combat it feels well-paced and varied with a lot of diversity available to the players choice of style. Weapons could do with some further tweaking and balancing, but these are minor issues and will more than likely be ironed out at release.
In terms of graphics, the game does well to impress. The graphics are never going to rival the likes of Crysis and Killzone, but still deliver a beautiful and immerse landscape packed with detailed animations In terms of audio the music is delivered perfectly for a wild west experience, and the overall sounds are prime and good, no sound glitches that I have experienced so far and everything feels just right.
Overall Starhawk is coming out to be a well-rounded Third Person Shooter experience which provides original and classic ideas implemented alongside new cutting-edge innovative ideas. It’s good to see a game reaching out of a comfort zone and striving to create something more than a rinse and repeat, and while Starhawk still provides you with some reminiscence of Warhawk, it still depicts itself as a whole game its own that offers more than a change of scenery to its loyal and potential fan base. The public beta is currently available to everyone on the PSN, with 3 maps available to play and a large range of the features on offer for testing and scrutiny. Expect Starhawk in stores near you on the 8th May.