Flying miles above the radar Sony has decided to remake their 1995, Playstation 1 title Warhawk for the third generation. Veering away from the single player structure, new developer Incognito and Sony decided take the battle on all fronts, tackling online multiplayer gaming, tilting all the way.
Warhawk is a simple concept that any gamer who has a PS3 and a broadband connection can enjoy. Warhawk puts you online in a virtual battlefield with a wide range of weapons and vehicles to obliterate anything that moves. If the simple premise of blowing other gamers up online is all you need, then maybe all you need is Sony’s latest, Warhawk.
The strong points of Warhawk have to be it's versatility and ease to get into the game. At times some multiplayer games can be a little overwhelming if you haven’t been gaming since the release date, however Warhawk's simple gameplay mechanics can get you up and running in no time. After you wait the few minutes for Warhawk to install, it’s off to find a server to perform some match making. The servers load quickly which is a bonus if you are egger to get into the action and you are painlessly dropped into a chosen spawn point. Just like that you’re entered into the smoke filled war ridden landscape of war, knife happy gamers and rockets galore. I was impressed with the loading speed within Warhawk, and its ability to run at top speed without too many cases of lag.
The modes available in Warhawk might be seen as a little light for a pure online shooter. However at least the core modes are covered with two others added for a little spice. The traditional online modes are Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. The spice is offered in two modes one called Zones which a territory takeover type game and the last mode is Dogfight which is a 32 player battle in the sky. If you’re a regular to the online gaming world these modes will be underwhelming at first, but they are actually enough to keep your interest. I would have liked to see a few more modes included in Warhawk, since there isn't a single player component, however sometimes it’s good to go back to the basics and get to the old school grab flag and run gaming. If you're into the quickies then nothing beats a little deathmatch battle and Warhawk has no trouble offering a few intense minutes of multiplayer fragging madness.
One area where Warhawk starts to feel a little bland is connecting with the player on an emotional level. There isn’t much to grasp here beside shooting, jumping in a jet, and capturing a flag. The quick passed, almost comical style of Warhawks animation doesn’t help either. The graphics themselves look realistic concerning everything except the players. The in game characters and glowing items and weapons really hinder the overall effect of seriousness in Warhawk. I would have rather had a more gritty game to match some of the cool weaponry like the heavy rocking tanks and Warhawk fighters.
Taking from the original Warhawk, the real beauty of the new Warhawk is the flying aspects. This is what defines Warhawk from the rest of the crowd and keeps it interesting in the heat of battle. Aside all the normal war machines, the Warhawk or Nemesis fighter is a fun diversion and a strong asset on the battlefield. This fighter jet can be control with traditional controls, or by using the Sixaxis tilt controls which have to be enabled. Unlike, the confusion that was Lair, Warhawk is an easier to control without the feeling of being overwhelmed or out of control, but this is lent only to the air vehicle. The ground vehicles will take a little more practice and are unfortunately too hard to control, I actually felt like I was a bull rider at the rodeo. I recommend that gamers keep their patience and learn to fly the fighters because it deepens the game experience making Warhawk a little more original then the ground and pound offense. You'll know what I mean when you're in the middle off attacking a ground based skirmish and then you find yourself blind sided and brought into an intense dogfight, it's moments like this that can leave you breathless.
Aside from learning to deal with the Sixaxis controller, the general controls are solid and fluid. Weapons can be selected by using the D-Pad and other actions like vehicle positions are simple to learn. Since Incognito devoted all their time to a multiplayer mode we have a top notch polished game that integrates a lot of different factors into a smooth fun experience. One of these factors is that no one has the advantage when you’re warped into your spawn point. All you will have equipped is the knife, and the pistol, which necessary isn’t a bad thing... I’ll get to that in a moment. The skilled players will start to come out on top in one on one battles, but it’s still possible for a loosing team to come back with some crafty teamwork balancing defence with a strong offence line. Even though Incognito tried to keep the game as balanced as possible I still found a few issues that are hindering its perfection. Now, lets talk about that knife.
The main unbalancing issue deals with the weapon side. Some might argue the pistol is too powerful; however it’s apparent that all the power is in the knife. The knife which is extremely over exaggerated is a poison often killing players in one swipe. This makes the knife the most powerful weapon in the game and when you factor in how fast your player moves the unexpected and inexperienced can be easily dismantled. It’s all fair in love and war they say, and everyone has the same advantage it just seems the knife much more than it should be. I know the development team must have worked on balance issues for a long time given their importance to the online gaming, so I’m sure they are concerned and will balance little issues out over the length that Warhawk is supported.
The levels in Warhawk are divided into 25 sections over 5 different maps. The variations jump from large open battles to close quarters in a city setting. The 5 main maps are Archipelago which is a group of islands surrounding a castle. The Badlands a desert type setting. The Destroyed Capitol which takes place in skyscrapers in the ruins of the Eucadian capital along with Eucadia which is a mountainous land with villages and the final map and popular Island Outpost a base vs. Base setting. The maps can support up to 24 and 32 players on dedicated servers, or 8 if you’re hosting on a normal ADSL connection. The battles are the best when it’s insane and packed full of crazies. The more the merrier applies to Warhawk.
In an interesting option Sony gives PS3 owners the option of downloading Warhawk for a $20 cheaper then the retail copy. Now, you must wonder what the advantage is to purchasing Warhawk in the full Blu-Ray format. First off you get a small blue tooth headset (Jabra BT125) which is worth a few bucks and some extra behind-the-scene footage included on the disc. If you are already good with a wireless headset, I would go ahead and download Warhawk, but if you’re looking to keep your HD space down and you want the extras the retail version is the way to go. The main point is that you have options and it’s a nice touch that Sony offers a way for gamers to pay less for digital distribution.
Before I end this review, I wish Warhawk had a few other features that are starting to become common practice with multiplayer games. First off, Warhawk offers no instructional training within the game, so you’re fighting blind for the first few rounds until you figure the system out, this becomes more important when you get behind the controls of the Warhawk fighter. Also Warhawk doesn’t let you play against computer controlled bots. This would have helped give the player the chance to learn the game and have some experience before jumping into the competitive nature of online gaming. This is just one downside that is a minor setback overall. All is forgiven after a few runs, but the initial voyage into the battlefield could be discouraging to new gamers especially if you’re up against gamers who have been into Warhawk since the beta.
Warhawk is an enjoyable online game that serves up a fast paced battlefield full of dynamic environments, fun vehicles and a handful of weapons. Incognito has polished their fighter jet to a shine, but the missed a few spots. The lack of an instructions, or bot-controlled players makes Warhawk a little tough to get into for gamers starting late into the action. If the rockets don’t get you the Rambo sized knife will skim a little off the top.
This doesn’t mean Warhawk isn’t worth a test flight, what Warhawk has done is started a great base that hopefully can be expanded upon with downloadable content in the future. If you’re interested in getting online and blasting hours away, Warhawk will suffice, however it’s not going to replace the other options available in the plentiful world of online shooters. Before you purchase Warhawk, I would suggest you grab this one as a rental and judge from there, or just save yourself some cash and download the full version of the game instead of the retail version.
Gameplay:7, Graphics/Sound:8, Innovation:6, Mojo: 7.5 Final: 7 / 10