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Warhawk Review

31 August 2007

Don’t be alarmed if you find yourself blown up more than once simply because you’re caught unaware admiring the stunning view. Never has anyone seen such huge draw distances. When you take the power of a newer console to make something newer and better, using the hardware to accomplish things that have never been seen in the same generation is definitely no ordinary feat. What is more significant is when you take something very familiar, and you redesign it into something breath taking. Creating a newer, better adventure that lifts the souls and the minds of the players at hand. Warhawk doesn’t just let gamers experience something enjoyable it lets them live it.

Warhawk featured a significant focus upon a single player mode, with a multiplayer taste when it was announced nearly two years ago. Luckily, Incognito discovered that their multiplayer mode had the potential to break the mind’s imagination barrier for gamers. With this in mind, they made the game an online only thrill on the ground or in the air. In addition, they provided a number of extra features, such as the ability to host games yourself or throwing up a party with multiple players on one system. With all the stunning features, and the breath-taking atmosphere, Warhawk is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable multiplayer experiences that are available on quite possibly any console. With its incredible depth and unbelievable gameplay, everyone should get ready to experience the thrill of aerial combat with hundreds of enemy fighters, and intense infantry combat in a massive, all-out war fought on both the ground and in the skies.

The customisation is definitely one of the key gems in Warhawk. On starting the game, you'll set up your appearance in battle for both your soldier and your Warhawk. To start the unbelievable fighting trek, you’ll have to choose one of two sides: the Eucadians or the Chernovans. The Eucadians appear to be more modern and amiable, while the Chernovans seem to be more towards the technological and darker side. The choice that you make between the two is cosmetic, and doesn't really have any impact upon the title whatsoever. The goal is to simply remember that you're enemy is anyone that doesn’t look like you, and you want to annihilate them, whether on ground or in the air.

You'll be pitted against 31 players across five different worlds, each of which can be sectioned into as large or as small a stage as you want for close, head bashing combat or an epic adventure. You'll take on your opponents in one of the four different gameplay modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Nodes play. Anyone who has played multiplayer games will know straight off the bat what Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch is, but there are some unique changes that add to the unique flavour of Warhawk. If you decide to play a Warhawk only game, you're engaging in only Deathmatch or Team Deathmatch, to where there is no purpose for Capture the Flag or Nodes play. Secondly, sprinkled across every map are myriad bases and checkpoints. Capturing these bases allows you to create a spawn point for anyone on your team, who can then warp to any checkpoint or base in that territory as long as it's in your control. It also generates new weapons, turrets and vehicles for you and your allies to use. So, next time you see yourself flying across a checkpoint that use to be empty and are blown up by a turret out of no where, feel free to go crazy on the base aspect.

In Nodes play, the bases play an integral part in the mode’s experience. Throughout, your entire goal is to capture bases and remain within the border of that territory, from which power emerges as a result of your troop presence. The more troops that you have in that area, the larger your team base becomes as you gain more points to win the game. If you manage to link together more than two nodes, you get a bonus on the number of points, as well as increase the number of weapons your team can use. As your team fights anxiously to repel invaders, it is necessary to make sure the opposing team does not breach your bounds.

Warhawk’s beauty is essentially supplemented by an amazing gameplay structure. The players are given numerous methods, some devious, to eliminate their opponents. As you fight tremendously for your team’s ground, there are seven aerial weapons and nine ground weapons. In addition, three vehicles are found in the game for road rage fun or simple flag retrieval. To prevent any Warhawk from swooping down and just taking the flag, three turret types are allowed to the player to auto track missiles to a Warhawk’s inevitable and unfortunate doom. So much for thinking you were almost there! Incognito truly went out of their way and above and beyond to make sure that the weaponry adjustability is perfect, without one single flaw. Complimented with the variety of weapons, there is literally a detailed book as to different ways that these weapons can be used. With such stability and flexibility in the gameplay, the focus to Warhawk’s weapon system is quite an impressive one. Every weapon is detailed with a specific counter or counter situation. For instance, laid mines can be destroyed with bursts from a flamethrower. Extremely powerful weapons like the rocket launcher turret and the laser targeting binoculars take time to unload their full power in a very realistic manner. Faster weapons such as pistols and rifles do less damage. Thankfully, this attention to detail prevents a “say hello to my lil’ friend” scenario of blazing guns after attempting to raid the enemy with your jeep a long with the Warhawk flying in for a flag capture scenario.

In addition to such a beautifully crafted weapon system, the same can be said about the balance between ground troops and vehicles of all sorts. The balance with the weapon system goes hand in hand with the overarching soldier-type balance. Ground troops aren't heavily armored, and can go down to a mounted turret, aerial attack or be run over by a vehicle. With their ground tactics, the troops can destroy either turrets or planes with an assortment of arms. If you get shot down by someone with a rocket launcher, tough luck - better hope they ran out of ammunition if you come strolling in the next time around! Turrets are formidable weapons, but leave you vulnerable to attack due to the noise they create and the fact that they’re merely fixed mounds. With Warhawks, destroying anything easily via lock on missiles is a simple task, but to teach soldiers, vehicles and turret shooters a lesson without a cluster bomb, the planes have to hover in place. It’s then necessary that a player does not hover around for too long, then the weapons system might come into effect, and a ground troop might have ample opportunity to counterattack.

From this balanced weapons system and finely tuned gameplay aspect, battles between experienced Warhawk players often turn into complex skirmishes. Attacks on key bases to hold are more apparent this time around. You and everyone on your team immediately know what they need to accomplish to declare victory over the other team. With all of these unbelievable additions and exquisite balance between the weapons system and the harmony in the options of choosing whether to be on foot or in the air, Incognito truly delivers a living, breathing, life for players to take control of and live through in fast paced action adventure warfare.

On screen itself you will be aided by a HUD system, which helps to indicate what areas your team controls, where you should be heading and if any dangers are around the vicinity. As most of the maps available in Warhawk are absolutely massive, the inclusion of this HUD system is a pure genius on Incognito’s part.

The control scheme, which is responsive and beautifully integrated with Sixaxis, adds to the life of the soldiers that players assume command of. Using this, players are given ample options to adjust their controls with. The optimisation levels around including not only inverting the analogue sticks but also even engaging Sixaxis function for the ground vehicles and aircraft. Even though the Sixaxis brilliantly responds to the set customisation level, it's pleasing to have the option to turn that mode on and off at will instead of being stuck with it as your only way to navigate a badass Warhawk or vehicle into combat.

At the end of the match, you're given a full performance and statistics chart on your actions in the battlefield. If you happen to be playing a ranked match, the points for the actions you did will add up and allow you to be promoted in rank. This will also let you receive literally hundreds of medals and ribbons such as killing enemies at a specific spot, defending the base, or even pulling off a nice number of kills to ground troops with a Warhawk. All in all there are a minimum of twenty ranks that players can advance to, starting at recruit and moving all the way up to General (I’m currently a Colonel thanks to the beta). Gaining the first few promotions are easy, but with time, the requirements get tougher, making it much more difficult to advance in rank.

Not only do the ranks allow you to claim bragging rights, but also they can be used to unlock new skins for your character model. Also, depending on how a server is set up, ranks can restrict players from servers where they'd easily blow away less skilled warriors, since you have to meet that player ranking or lower to be eligible to enter a room. However, there was one noticeable glitch in the ranking system; on random occasions, the game appears to lose track of the players progress, demoting them back to a recruit, prompting you to reload your profile to continue where you left off. Frustrating to say the least after plodding through several hours of hard work.

The only other possible downside to Warhawk is the fact that for a beginner, the learning curve is not easy to master. The game comes with no tutorials or any introductory measures for Warhawk. As a result, even if players attempt to learn through a local area network game, most players will have a hard time trying to figure out how to manoeuvre a certain vehicle, and even basics such as how to shoot and what not. Warhawk, possibly through future patches, can definitely become more newcomers friendly through the inclusion of an observer mode, so newcomers can choose to be a spectator on matches and observe specifically in detail what buttons a player presses (possibly a God of War type fade in and fade out scheme on screen) at specific moments in time. Such an inclusion will not only greatly decrease the learning curve, but also allow for more stimulated rather than frustrated players in an all-encompassing environment.

As for the technicality of Warhawk’s servers, creating your servers to host games or clan matches is fairly easy with Warhawk's extended customisable options. Players can decide if their server will simply be a player server for non-ranked games, ranked dedicated if they want to play on their server but not participate in such ranked games, or just plain dedicated if they want to host but not play non-ranked games. With these features, the strong customisation options apparent not only in gameplay but server aspects as well, allows players to set everything from passwords for clan practices to friendly fire damage and spawn delays, and save these settings as presets. Furthermore, hosts can have their games up and running the way they want in a matter of minutes, which is pretty impressive right out of the box without any significant or massive adjustments for the PSN.

The magnificent sound in Warhawk truly adds to the euphony of the title. Often, you will find yourself using sound to trace where a specific attack came from. For instance, if it's the crackle of electricity or the whoosh of a flamethrower, you have an idea of what it is and who could've been firing it. The explosions are unbelievably threatening (in a good way) and the vehicles sound incredibly and realistically powerful and intense. Bullets whiz by; explosions feel as if they actually happened in your backyard (or in a nearby parking lot if you live in a complex). Warhawk would have been supremely hurt if it didn’t have a gripping soundtrack to go along with the visual feast for the eyes, and background music will have your heart pumping adrenaline faster than the gameplay.

For those players that prefer to have the game on Blu-ray disc, the package deal of the game is available for $60 dollars instead of the $40 on the store. The retail version is packaged with a Blu-ray disc along with exclusive extra video content as well as a Jabra BT125 headset, which nicely complements the in-game community aspect. The headset charges up very quickly and works brilliantly for up to 30 feet. For a consumer, the decision is purely based on whether he/she prefers to have the physical copy of the disc on hand. First off, the beautifully crafted special addition piano black headset is a nice addition, but it's understandable that some people may not want it if there's another headset that they prefer to use. They simply might already have a headset and don’t want to waste the extra $20 on an additional one and some exclusive footage. But, we should warn all of you right now. If you have family members that want to play on your PlayStation 3 or on their own respective PlayStation 3’s, the best option is the Blu-ray package regardless. With the downloadable one, you will definitely not be able to allow a family member to play it on his/her account on a PlayStation 3, let alone any other account on your own PlayStation 3. If you have a gaming family, or a brother who wants to play the game with his own stats, buy the Blu-ray disc! It’s worth it.

Warhawk is definitely an AAA experience in the bigger flight of it all. There are nuances in animation such as rolling bodies to realistic explosions, vehicles and Warhawks, unbelievable lighting effects that cast mind-boggling effects as they cast on the environment and other nice touches. Character models change based on a player's rank and their personal preferences with their outfits, so you will definitely see a lot of variety in terms of warfare player setting. To top it all off, the environments are quite verdant and the fact that a map can be sectioned into many different ways makes it one of those things that keep the replayability virtually endless. With all of these various features, combined with a balanced gameplay core, and utterly beautiful graphics, everyone can be rest assured that Warhawk is one heck of a flight no one wants off of.

-The Final Word-

Warhawk is an amazing multiplayer experience. Almost everything is spot on, and players will have a lot of fun taking on different roles and trying out different tactics to reach their objectives. This title is a must-have for PS3 owners.
  • Simplistic menus and descriptions will help anyone become a server host and ranked pilot.
  • There's a ton of ranks, ribbons and medals to earn.
  • Graphics are beautifully enticing.
  • Steep learning curve without documentation or tutorials.
  • Only works on one PSN account if you download it.
9.0
Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3
See PSU's reviews scores on Metacritic and Gamerankings

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