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Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
PlayStation 3
PUBLISHER:
SCEA
DEVELOPER:
Incognito Studios
GENRE: Action
PLAYERS:   1-32
RELEASE DATE:
August 28, 2007
ESRB RATING:
Teen


IN THE SERIES
Starhawk

Warhawk

 Written by Matt Swider  on June 21, 2007

Beta Review: "Warhawk is a mind-blowing experience in which anything can happen and everything that does happen is fun."


More from Warhawk Week:
Monday: PSone game review | Tuesday: Beta Strategy | Wednesday: Beta Review | Thursday: Ten Improvements | Friday: Halo 3 Vs. Warhawk: Battle of the Betas


<< Back to Tuesday: Beta Strategy (images)

Warhawk is the greatest PlayStation 3 game you've never played if you're not one of the incredibly lucky beta testers. Test pilots for the upcoming multiplayer-only title have been blowing each other up on foot, in tanks and jeeps, in gun turrets and, of course, in the air in Warhawks since May 24. While the single-player mode is missed, the motion controls don't compare to the analog maneuvering and the minor glitches need to be fixed, for an all-out online war game Warhawk delivers one of the most epic battles on a next-generation console.

SCEA and Incognito's Warhawk does for the PS3 what EA and DICE's Battlefield 2 did for the PC. The similarly storyless Battlefield series has been available for some time, but for those gamers who have stayed exclusive to the PlayStation brand, Warhawk is an exclusive, original entry to the genre for them. Furthermore, the Sony team refines the ?wide-open war? genre setter with even more futuristic sci-fi elements. Like the 32-bit PSone game from 1995, this PS3 remake focuses on players piloting a Vertical Taking Off and Landing aircraft. However, the VTOL aerial combat is where the similarities between these two games with same name stop. That's because the PS3 version of Warhawk expands into ground-based action so that you can go from a Warhawk to a jeep to a tank to a gun turret and on foot dynamically.

Even though Warhawk is in beta, everything has been included, so it's not a mere three levels like the recent Halo 3 beta on Xbox 360. It's still a work in progress, however, as changes are being made to the game's balance and stability. Therefore, it isn't ready for a review score according to our editorial standards. But, to give you an idea of what's included and how it plays, there are four different modes, 25 maps broken up evenly between 5 worlds and up 32 players per game.

In addition to the ridiculous slaughterfest that is Deathmatch, the strategic and fun Team Deathmatch and the endlessly enjoyable Capture the Flag, the Zones game type presents a rather unique experience. It gives the two warring sides a chance to steal each other's bases while protecting their own. The advantage to possessing and merging the zone-filled map is that you can respawn at any base held by your team. Your team color appears as a large circle with a base flag in the middle representing an acquired zone. It's very reassuring when you see the map full of blue territory when you're on the blue team, but extremely alarming when you're on the blue team and red circles are encroaching your one remaining base from all sides.

All of the modes feature the same versatile air and ground gameplay and because there are so many players on your team (up to 16), you immediately feel like you're part of the large-scale, big war picture as soon as you spawn. The first time you start an ongoing game, you'll likely see four players scramble for the coveted Warhawks and take off right away, two people strap into the gun turrets to take down incoming enemy Warhawks in surface-to-air fashion, one guy jump into the driver's seat of a jeep while his buddy hops into the back to man the machine gun for protection...and then there's you. You turn to your right and see other soldiers suiting up with more powerful weapons like rifles, flamethrowers and rocket launchers, all knowing what to do and you wonder what you got yourself into. And then a massive explosion from an enemy tank blows you away from the left. You quickly respawn for the first time, take that learning experience and turn it into revenge on the offending tank by lobbing a series of grenades at it while shooting your pistol intermittently.

Warhawk is a mind-blowing experience in which anything can happen and everything that does happen is fun. The sense of comradery is incredible in this online universe and teamwork is the ultimate way to have fun as well as tackle the opposition. In my first online experience, I took charge of the machine gun in the back of the 4x4 after another a random teammate drove by me while I was tirelessly running. The driver relied on my gunning skills to take down Warhawks and keep us alive since he wasn't able to steer and shoot at the same time. Conversely, I relied on his driving ?skills? to keep us underneath Warhawks to shoot them down. I say ?skills? because he drove us off a surprise cliff the first time out. However, we quickly hooked up again and went out on patrol for more targets. We drove for what seems like a half hour and while I didn't have a USB headset in this initial round, I made sure I wrote down the player's name and friended him for future Warhawk collaborations. This is the type of experience that Warhawk can turn into and no two rounds are the same.

Without a tutorial mode, the beta leaves you to figure out the controls of a Warhawk. At first, things seem to move slowly until you realize that you're just in hover mode. As soon as you hit triangle to switch to flight mode and R2 to light the afterburners, the gameplay shifts into warp speed. The left analog stick maneuvers the Warhawk while the right analog stick performs life-saving rolls and loops. These natural feeling moves are perfect for evading danger as well as turning the tables on your enemies. Trying out the non-default motion controls, once highly touted for this fight game, is a different story. Moving the SIXAXIS controller around while using the left analog to position the reticule takes more time to the hang of. It's worthwhile to attempt, but most gamers won't ditch the more intuitive analog stick, which the game starts with. Either method you chose, flying a Warhawk is an awesome experience.

It was surprising to see how fun the on-foot and in-vehicle gameplay was and how much of a nuisance you can be to Warhawks while a small, though vulnerable man. I really felt like a pest to them when I stole the flag from their compound, immediately jumped out of the second story window, ran down the side of a hill and took off on a waiting jeep. I even had my buddy waiting to man the gun in the back. They chased after me as if I was a misunderstood character in a sci-fi flick, hovering overhead as I franticly sped toward the base to officially capture the flag. Sometimes I was lucky and got back to my base perimeter where turret guns, alerted via my USB headset, where ready for the enemy Warhawks swarming around my 4x4. Sometimes I wasn't so lucky, especially when the enemy Warhawks were into coordinating their attack more than my unresponsive team. This shows that the game is well balanced on both sides and that teamwork can easily win this unpredictable frenzy.

A headset is really invaluable when used properly, I quickly found out, and the ease of muting people, while easily missable, is much appreciated. It could be even easier if the developer indicated who was talking on the game's HUD. This would help both silencing and communicating with the proper players because one rarely looks at that tucked away voice menu. Further teamwork is accomplished by local players joining the fight on the same system as you. The planned local mode is disabled on the main menu, but the beta DOES support four friends via splitscreen in the online mode. It divides the screen vertically with two players and into four equally sized boxes with three or more players (one being blank when there's just three).

The environments are not destructible, but that's because most of them have already been destroyed. The five worlds range from demolished cities to grassy mountains to arid desserts. Along with the sharp looking building, vehicle and character models, the size of the maps remain large and they all hold very impressive lighting effects. Running with a glowing captured flag causes its shimmering red or blue team color to reflect off of the ground and the walls that surround you. It won't take long for it to reflect new colors as bullets and flames descend on your position. When this happens, even though the high-definition explosions unfortunately do not effect the environments, they sure do effect you.

More from Warhawk Week:
Monday: PSone game review | Tuesday: Beta Strategy | Wednesday: Beta Review | Thursday: Ten Improvements | Friday: Halo 3 Vs. Warhawk: Battle of the Betas

Final Thoughts
Games like Warhawk are the reason you bought a PlayStation 3. Get it online from the PlayStation Store. Get it with a Bluetooth headset from the a retail store. However you get it, whatever you do, get Warhawk this fall.


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