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Starhawk gives new life to the very generic online shooter genre by requiring careful teamwork in this Build & Battle combat system. Don't expect much from the single-player adventure, but get ready to enjoy a truly exhilarating online experience.
- Multiplayer is unique, refreshing
- Building system is fun, requires teamwork
- Vehicle combat is rewarding
- Single-player experience is generally weak
- Not the best overall presentation
- Maps feel a bit bland
(continued from previous page) ...Starhawk make the game something worth obsessing over.
All players have the ability to build important structures, including walls, turrets, vehicle spawn points, ammo barracks, and more. You’ll need to grow your rift energy throughout the match to actually build things. This allows even the worst shot in the game to play an important role. If you simply have no skill at shooting enemies, you can at least take part in the collective defense for your team by erecting walls and turrets. There’s also a co-op mode that sees you team up to defend a rift well from attacking scabs.
Remember those 12-year-old chumps that humiliated you? Well, if your team of misfits can communicate and come up with an active battle strategy, they stand a chance against those prepubescent terrors. That’s because it’s really easy for your team to quickly react in the same manner—say, everyone building walls, instead of splitting the duties between a couple teammates. It really is a joy to play with a well organized team, and clans will likely love owning newbies. There are plenty of ways LightBox encourages clans, including calendars, tournaments, leaderboards, and more.
Vehicle combat is extremely rewarding, easy to access, but also not godlike. Jumping in a tank can provide some massive assault power, but they are not so overpowered that a well placed grenade or two can’t immobilize it.
The main vehicle, Hawks—you know, like the game’s name—are a bit of a different story. While it’s fun to fly around, the in-air combat is a bit of a letdown. That’s just our personal taste, and that’s not necessarily a fault of the actual game. Perhaps it's simply because the action on the ground is fast and intense. Air battles, on the other hand, can truly be exhilarating, if not overly lengthy affairs—especially during the single-player campaign. Your Hawks can transform into mechs when they land, giving these vehicles a bit of a Swiss Army Knife complex. They are effective both in the air and on the ground, and it never got tiring watching them transform between their two structures.
The presentation is pretty good, but like the story it’s a bit short. The graphics are fine, but the overall space Wild West atmosphere could be stronger and at times the screen feels almost washed or faded. Again, we’re not talking PlayStation 2 graphics, but if you were looking for a really beautiful and flowery affair, lower your expectations. The audio is pretty strong and the music fits the western atmosphere. Maps are fairly varied, but they are sometimes too big for their own good. It’s easy to feel like nothing is happening and you're simply trudging along looking for someone to kill.
It’s fair to say that most people aren’t going to play Starhawk for the single-player campaign, but it’s also a shame we didn’t get a real explosive adventure. Instead, we are left with a mode we’ll likely never revisit. There’s also some occasional A.I. issues surrounding the single-player campaign, but also easily remedied by playing online instead. The multiplayer is extremely satisfying and something that feels unique and refreshing. We hope PS3 owners embrace the experience because Starhawk has the goods to backup a long, long online shelf life.
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