Starhawk Beta Impressions
LightBox’s Warhawk successor is a one to keep on your radar.
If you’re lucky enough to have gained access to the Starhawk beta in some way or other (perhaps you are a PlayStationPlus subscriber) then this hands-on preview is of little value and you should probably use this time to scan the servers for an open game. For everyone else, I will be walking you through LightBox and Santa Monica studio’s public beta for the much anticipated, Starhawk.
Starhawk is the spiritual successor to Warhawk, a multiplayer-only game and the first ‘full retail title’ to be available on the PSN store as well as on blu-ray. The 3rd person, action-packed game pitted two teams fighting for dominance of the land and skies. Its main strength was the variety of combat options, allowing you to control armored vehicles, turrets, jetpacks or the ever-popular Hawk aircrafts. Much has changed and to the better thankfully, though, judging from the beta it seems this new iteration is pushing for a different set of user habits.
Sony has already confirmed that Starhawk will feature a single-player campaign, something some would argue was sorely missing from 2007’s Warhawk, though that is not on show here. The private beta focuses only on two multiplayer modes, ‘Capture the Flag’ and ‘Team Deathmatch’. Right off the bat, as you spawn, you descend to the battlefield in a pod. This new addition not only looks cool but allows you to adjust, within limits, where you’ll be landing. From there the game is unsurprisingly very reminiscent of Warhawk with a new space-centric theme and a substantial facelift. There are some notable new features and, more significantly, a new ‘build ‘and battle’ system. Upon collecting resources, players can now construct facilities such as automated defense turrets, sniper towers or even vehicle spawn stations within their bases effectively adding an RTS mechanic to the game. This new feature is bound to change the battle dynamics as it requires more strategic collaboration amongst team members. While I failed to establish synergy with my fellow team mates, the potential for tactical cooperation is apparent and that potential will undoubtedly be tapped come clan recruitment time.
Another notable change is with the aircraft itself. Sci-fi fans will be pleased to hear that the Hawk now doubles as…wait for it…a mech. At the tap of a button, you can take your aerial threat to the ground, making it easier to target land-based vehicles and infantry. Having said that, it is now the only way to effectively target land-based opponents as the Hawk can no longer hover. As disappointed as I was, the omission made sense to me, given the new ability the aircraft now sports.
Flying the Hawk is still as thrilling as ever, though I found the dearth of people willing to partake in dogfights a little disconcerting. I am fairly certain this was a symptom of beta blues and all that will change when Starhawk finally hits the shelves (digital or otherwise).
All in all, the game is showing alot of promise and already looks to be a sure bet for fans of Warhawk or newcomers alike. The single-player campaign will also prove to be an attraction for the old school gamers (like myself) that still find comfort in the offline gaming experience. Starhawk is due for release on the PS3 this May and I highly recommend you keep it on your radar.