Warhawk PS3 Review - 13/09/2007

The summer may be dying but the games are just heating up. After a few months of staggered releases, with it mostly being ports from other platforms, finally we have something that really makes the Playstation 3 worth owning, Warhawk. But is this really the stellar game that the hype has claimed or has it been completely overhyped?

Well, as you start up the game there is a degree of in-trepidation as you watch the familiar start-up credits roll. (Come on, already, I know who made it!). Finally, you make it onto the main menu, now; this menu is nicely basic in design. You have four options: Online Game, which launches your crusade against the world (more about this next), the second is Local Game, where you get to create your own game for your friends to play whilst sitting next to you. More about that later. There is also the normal options screen giving you the ability to change controller set-up and audio and video settings, there is also, as seems the trend at the moment, a bonuses menu that gives you a few trailers for upcoming games as well as a behind the scenes look at Warhawk.

Logging on to Warhawk could not be simpler after selecting Online from the menu you start the processing system. Here you need to agree to the terms and conditions of the game, followed by a quick announcements board keeping you up-to-date with all server downtime or maintenance. Next you are greeted by Warhawk’s first problem, menus - the start of the game is filled with them. To start with you have four menus to access, from the online menu: Community, this being where you can see your rank and stats, as well as which of your buddies are online and what game they are playing in. The later is extremely useful if you're wanting a good game with your mates as in the main game lobby there is no telling who is playing in what.

The second tab is where you can join hosted games either in your own region or across the world. The Create game tab allows you to generate your own games with player amounts dependent on your bandwidth but be warned this game eats bandwidth for breakfast, running on a 20 Meg broadband connection gives you the maximum players of 12 out of 32. You can also set-up games for others to play in instead of you with dedicated servers, where if you leave your PS3 on different players can have a match in your game without you having to play. Finally on this menu comes customise - this option allows you to change the way in which your character or Warhawk looks, by altering things like paint colour and insignia on your Warhawk and head and clothes as well as colour and insignia on your character.

So what about the actual game? Selecting a game is fairly easy, if you fancy a game with one of your buddies simply find them on your buddy list (which is imported from your PSN friends list) and select them. You then can choose to join the game that they are in. Either that or if none of your friends are online, then you can join a game from the lobby list. The lobby is one of the best I’ve seen for a PS3 online game. There is a straight flow of games, currently there are about ten SCEE based games, which Sony are hosting, but they are normally full up or fill up very quickly when started. Most of the time there are about one hundred games being hosted on the European servers so it is easy to play a game when you want to.

There are two main types of hosting, ranked and non-ranked game, much like resistance or GRAW2. All of the Sony servers are ranked matches, which allow you to increase your rank as well as earn badges and awards, extra info later.

The modes of gameplay range from the normal everyday type to the ingeniously clever. Of course you have the mainstay modes of Capture the Flag, Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, which do play out in a very normal way. With deathmatch you can choose if you wish to play as either Eucadian or Chernovan, with the normal aim to take down as many of the other players as possible in a set time. The same applies to Team Deathmatch’s as well. Capture the Flag is again very similar to most Third person or first person shooter’s online modes. But the real genius mode is Zones; in this mode players must capture bases around the map to gain points - sounds familiar? Well in parts it is, but the clever stoke is that each base has three levels to which it can grow encompassing more of the map. The levels also make it hard for the other team to take a base as it means longer standing near the node.

When starting a game you will spawn as a foot soldier, who is equipped with only a pistol and a knife. Both the pistol and knife are very effective against other players. The knife, if you can get close enough to make it effective that is, is the easiest kill maker at the start of the game with its one-hit kills. But the pistol will be your first choice and it really is quite a good one. The range of the pistol is not amazing and quite rightly so, but where it does come in is for rapid fire. The pistol can let off rounds at a stupefying speed. If you’re not content with that you will find an impressive arsenal of weapons around the map.

Now the game isn’t just about on-foot soldiering, there is plenty of vehicular action to be getting on with. Firstly there is the three-man jeep; these are pretty standard, the X button offering acceleration and Square as the brake. As I said this jeep can be a three-manner with a rear mounted machine-gun for a buddy to hand out some real punishment, and a seat next to the driver. Another vehicle is the tank, slow and powerful but with some excellent armour. The tank is a two man show with one player working out of the top hatch and another controlling both the driving and canon. Strangely this works really well and doesn’t seem to get ham-fisted at all. With the controls for movement mapped to the left analogue stick and turret movement to the right, firing is a quick flick at the X button. For the second player they can shoot out the top or if under fire just hide back in the tank for protection.

Last but by no means least is the Warhawk. This bird can really make or break a battlefield. As stated there are two functions to the Warhawk; one is a standard flight mode that allows you to travel around the maps at great speed with an extra boost by pressing the L1 shoulder button. The other is a hover mode very similar to that of the Harrier Jump Jets, this mode is only useful if you want to either be a standing target or hammer down on some poor soul running around on-foot.

While in the Warhawk you will find that most of the time you will be in the flight mode with normally a brief switch over to hover to “bring the rain” on a certain target, then jet off again so that no one-else can get a good lock on you. While flying you will notice like the ground troops there are pick-ups for Warhawks as well. These pick-ups will give you anything from homing missiles to floating proximity mines. Pressing the L2 button will have your selected secondary weapon take aim - if it is a missile you will find it locking onto a target and if you hold it long enough you can send a maximum of 15 missiles at them. The R2 peddle rattles off your Warhawk’s machine guns, which can do some pretty nice damage to either other Warhawks or any ground-based unit. Then you come to the best aspect of the game… Dog-fighting. The Warhawk’s speed and manoeuvrability make dog-fighting graceful and elegant, this makes it so that you never feel like you have to look after too much at one time.

Thinking of the controls, the SIXAXIS controller is put into play in this game to surprisingly good effect. While the idea was clever I never managed to quite get the hang of the movement, even tweaking the sensitivity still made things difficult. It wasn’t the actual flying around the map that was the pain it was the combat that made sure if I was using the SIXAXIS I was either going to die or end up whizzing pass my target, not fun I can tell you. Soon the only thing I was happy with was the analogue sticks and boy, did they feel better. With the left stick controlling which direction you were going it and the right giving you amazing evasive manoeuvres, which change depending on which direction you move the stick.

The graphics are something to be marvelled at, as the download is so small, the textures look ever more real as you move past them. The detail on the vehicles is so impressive, looking at a Warhawk you can see details like where the plating has been bolted together and at times the bolts themselves. The draw distances are also expert as you lift off in your Warhawk you can see the entire map spread out in front of you.

One thing that is of major note for the game is that it doesn’t lag, even with 32 players in the game as long as the connection is stable. Which is really something to shout about as very few games have managed this kind of efficiency with online modes, supporting 16 players let alone 32.

The only other problem that I have found is that game is limited in the choice of the maps that you can play on. There are a total of five maps in the game, but the silver lining is that depending on the number of players and game mode the map will change to accommodate it.

So in closing this game offers some of the best online gaming that I have seen. There is a long life in this game if Sony keep the promise of downloadable content, but that aside there is a mass of life in this game as its user base grows with each day. Warhawk is one game of Sony’s Summer/Autumn collection that has lived up to the hype.

- Alec Hilton


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Incognito Ent.