Developer: Incognito/SCE Studios Santa Monica
Genre: Multiplayer Shooter
Platform: Playstation 3
Rarely does one find a game that completely forgoes any sort of single player mode and becomes a multiplayer only game. Within this genre of games is the even rarer multiplayer-only console game. Warhawk for the Playstation 3 is just that, a third person team based shooter that is 100% multiplayer only. Developed by Incognito (formerly Single Trac), the game is loosely based on a PSone launch title of the same name.
The game consists of 2 teams, the Eucadian team (blue) and the Chernovan team (red) with 16 players on each team. In it the two teams compete to earn points or attain various goals depending on the gametype. Like most games, Warhawk supports a wide variety of game modes to pick from. There’s the usual deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag, as well as some more unusual modes like zones where the two teams compete to expand their territory or Hero mode where each team is assigned a hero who has five times the health of a normal soldier and deals out double damage. All of these modes create a varied amount of gameplay and extend the life of the game significantly.
Warhawk is reminiscent of other multiplayer shooters such as Battlefield 2 in that while walking around the level you will find vehicles that you can freely hop in and out of, albeit with a large emphasis on the flying aspect more than the land based vehicles. The three vehicles which come with the shipped game are the Jeep which is fast and lightly armored, the Tank which is slow but usually only requires one or two hits to kill anything, and the warhawk, or plane (subsequent expansion packs have added a gunship, an APC, and jetpacks for infantry). The tank and jeep are pretty strait forward while the warhawk element is a bit more robust. The warhawk itself uses any one of 9 different weapons outside of its main machine guns which it can receive via pickups around the map. The plane can hover, as well as fly regularly and is easily the most plentiful vehicle in the game (usually about 3 planes to every jeep and tank). This compliments the game’s more arcade-like style and differs quite a bit from similar games like Battlefield which rely on a much more realistic style.
While this take on vehicles may seem too simplistic, it helps that each vehicle is highly specialized and balanced. It’s kind of like playing a game of rock paper scissors, except sometimes scissors outruns rock and other times paper drops a cluster bomb on scissors. When it comes to vehicles, the only real loser is someone who isn’t in one. Unless you’ve got a flamethrower or rocket launcher, if an enemy vehicle rolls up you can pretty much only hope that they don’t see you. However the game is incredibly balanced and even a lone infantry man can stand up against a tank so long as he’s got a flamethrower and some guts.
Warhawk tends to be very over-the-top with some levels that take place on islands that are no more than 100 feet across yet stick strait out of the water nearly 600 feet. Other levels take place on floating cities or on top of huge glaciers and even crashed spaceships. The levels themselves dwarf nearly every other games, with some levels over a mile across. The downside to maps this large is that if a player finds himself without a vehicle it can be a long trek until they can get to where the action is.
Technically speaking Warhawk is something to behold. It’s draw distance is essentially infinite, which is great considering how huge some of the levels are, and its graphics are decidedly next-gen. Even if you’ll never get close enough to see the individual hairs on your enemies face, they are there. It’s impressive that a game that takes place in third person and on a scale that is in the thousands of feet has little details like destroyable chairs outside a vacated shop or the way your character ejects a spent magazine sideways out of his gun when he reloads it.
The game’s sound design is also well done. Simple things like the faint whistling noise of a TOW missile or the high pitched buzzing sound of a laser designator let you know that in a few seconds you’ll be destroyed. Every single weapon has its own unique sounds, in particular the sniper rifle which sounds more like a cannon than a gun. Other things like the plinking of machine gun bullets as they bounce off a tanks armor or the warning sound of a missile that’s locked onto your plane all help to immerse you into the game.
Warhawk is not without its flaws however. The game is a bit shallow and can suffer from Counter Strike syndrome where although the game is fun, after a few hours you soon realize you’ve been doing the same thing over and over again. Fortunately there are numerous gameplay modes which can change up the pace and a rank system that allows the player to unlock new skins for his player model and aircraft. The game also has a steep learning curve and can (In my case) take up to 2 hours before a player gets his first kill. The game utilizes fantastic sixaxis control, probably the best of any game I’ve played thus far, but it can take some getting used to and the result usually ends up being shot down an awful lot before you can start some real dogfighting.
Overall the game is a well balanced shooter with some interesting and addictive elements. It’s a lot of fun and its arcade style of gameplay is a welcome change from the standard realism most shooters tend to follow. If you can get past the shallow repetitiveness you can find some pretty deep and balanced gameplay that can keep you entertained for many hours. At a mere $30 it’s worth picking up if you’re looking for some fun online.