Review: And you thought World of Warcraft was addictive.
Warhawk Strategy Guide (with images)
Halo 3 Vs. Warhawk: Battle of the Betas
Warhawk is uniquely available for download via the PlayStation Store for $40 or on Blu-Ray disc with a Bluetooth headset for the more typical price of $60. Either way you chose to buy Warhawk, it's a worthy investment because it delivers the best multiplayer experience on the PS3 thus far. No, the game doesn't feature a single-player mode of any sort and doesn't relate to the original PSone title any more than sharing its name. This isn't your slightly older brother's Warhawk. What it is is an on-foot, in-vehicle and in-air online battle of epic PlayStation 3 proportions.
Up to 32 players can simultaneously enlist in this PS3-exclusive open warfare game. Despite having that many people blowing each other up on large-scale maps, lag is a last generation word. Apparently, so is the word ?storyline? since Warhawk doesn't feature an introduction, either. This means that even as a new recruit, you're thrown into the fight without reason and you must learn the ropes through trial and error. The game divides players into two nondescript teams and, upon spawning on foot, everyone scrambles for warhawks, then jeeps, then tanks and gun turrets, and then finally on foot to the front line when those options are exhausted.
Although the warhawks always seem to go first, all means of fighting are equally fun. This includes going on foot with weapons like the rocket launcher because it locks on to the flying aircraft. As a small soldier bringing down an imposing mechanical bird, it brings on a David and Goliath feeling that's as satisfying as soaring through the air. On the ground, vehicles include teamwork-promoting tanks and jeeps. As one player drives the tank and operates its powerful gun, the other pops open the hatch to pick off close-range infantry. Since the jeep driver can't hold a weapon, a buddy can take control of the machine gun in the back, great for shooting down swarming warhawks as you attempt to steal their flag in CTF mode.
The level of camaraderie is immense. You'll finally be adding PSN name after PSN name to your barebones friends list as if it were an Xbox Live account. Warhawk brings social networking to the PS3 with 32 players interacting and teams communicating via wireless headsets, a combination that screams multiplayer 2.0.
Capture the Flag is just one of four addictive modes. There's also Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Zones. While both forms of deathmatch are pretty self-explanatory, Zones adds capturable respawn points to the map. Your starting base area is colored red or blue on the map depending on your team and that color can be expanded out to other open spawn points and even your enemy's base. Stealing a flag in CTF or taking control of territory in Zones is a chaotic endeavor whether you go by land or air; you'll dodge bullets from soldiers, shells from tanks and missiles from warhawks. It's best to mix it up, usually by crash landing a warhawk into an enemy base, making a b-line for the flag (or tensely waiting there until the zone has been taken over), and accelerating out of there in a jeep while firing at enemies in between.
Each of the five environments in Warhawk make you feel like a small part of an epic struggle when the map is at full size. Small and medium map sizes segment the full size map, making the levels feel completely different. It's not like ?Oh, they're kind of mirrored, so they look a little different for a second.? You go from taking as much time as you want gathering weapons in the expansive map to scrambling for the closest assault rifle and dodging bullets within seconds in the close-quarters version.
Besides being large, the five maps in Warhawk are pretty detailed. They're not filled with destructible environments; however, the already bombed-out building and town settings provide a good excuse as why not in addition to providing good appearance. Aside from maps with city-wide destruction, lush jungle islands and a desert arena reminiscent of MotorStorm vary the collection. Come to think of it, the only missing map type is a snow level, making it a likely candidate for a future map download.
As you're exploring every nook of these well-designed levels to hide from enemies or to find enemies attempting to hide from you, you'll hear tanks rolling to your left, jeeps whizzing past to your right, and warhawks zooming up above while explosions going off and bullets are being fired in every direction. There's always a lot going on in a full 16-on-16 game and, without a doubt, a lot of sound effects to hear as a result. They are further amplified by the unfortunate lack of background music, which is limited to the thunderous orchestral score from the title screen. But, play Warhawk with surround sound speakers and you'll be blown away from 5.1 directions.
Medals, badges and ribbons are types of awards that were added after the beta and they're a great addition. Flatten five enemies with the jeep and you're awarded the initial 4X4 Bandit badge; become a grenade-throwing maniac and get a Bandit badge for that, too. Do this stuff some more to upgrade the badge's level twice to Master level and, finally, Warhawk level. In addition to collecting these satisfying Xbox Live-like Achievements, you can keep track of your very detailed personal stats, ranking advancements and leaderboard placement in your profile. As you rank up, you can customize your character and Warhawk a little bit as an added bonus.
Speaking of bonuses, the special edition bundle's video content isn't that
special. Basically, it's a high-definition promo for five upcoming PS3 games: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Lair, Eye of Judgment, Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, and Folklore. A behind the scenes clip of Warhawk is also included, but, like the impressive looking HD trailers, it isn't enough to be worth an extra $20.
The only reason to shell out an extra Andrew Jackson for the Blu-Ray disc bundle is to get the Jabra BT120 Bluetooth headset if you don't already own one. It's black like the PS3, compact and comfortable enough for extended gaming marathons. It's also not available in stores for less than $20 (not even online), so it's a deal if you want to use it as your PS3 mic/earpiece instead of the USB headset that came with SOCOM or Karaoke Revolution, if you want to admit you bought that.