Warhawk - PS3 Review
Older gamers may recall Warhawk on the PSOne. It was a fantastic title that defined the console. This game isn't an update or sequel, but quite separate. Warhawk was first unveiled at E3 2005 with a (as we found out later) pre-rendered video presentation showing hundreds of vehicles flying around the air. E3 2006 saw the game shown in playable form - but it looked a bit average. The selling point though was the game was the first to make use of the Sixaxis' motion sensing to control the flying vehicles. Several months after that E3 show it was announced that Warhawk would be multi-player only, and would not include any single-player missions at all. Finally we came to the 'downloadble only' or 'Blu-Ray only' debate before Sony announced it would be released in both forms - $AU49.95 through the Playstation Store or $AU99.95 in retail stores (although most stores are selling it for $90 or less) with a Jabra BT135 Bluetooth headset packed in.
|In the middle of a Capture The Flag battle.|
So what about the storyline? Well the game has an epic, twisted and engrossing tale spanning a hundred years of military rule... Oh no, wait, wrong game. There is no story here. Basically two warring factions blasting the shit out of each other. That's about it really. Onto the game details...
Upon starting Warhawk you have three menu options to select from. The first is Online, the second Local Play and the third is Options. The last is pretty obvious and Local Play allows you to participate in some multi-player mayhem on a single console however it's the Online mode that is the meat of the game. Warhawk supports up to 32-players online which, while down on the 40-players in Sony's Resistance: Fall of Man, is still more then enough to keep you quite busy.
|The skies actually look very nice.|
Warhawk is a third person action title which takes place across 5 rather large maps in both the skies, and on land. Archipelago and Destroyed Capital are split up into a series of island styled areas which are only accessible by flying from one area to another. Three other maps including Eucadia, Island Outpost and Badlands are more solid terrain however due to their size the easiest way of getting from one side to another is still to fly - although a Jeep or Tank will also do the job quite well. There's a wide range of weapons on offer when you're on foot. These include a rocket launcher, flame thrower, machine gun and sniper rifle among others. The game also provides proximity mines, grenades, and health packs among others. The only weapon which allows you to switch to a First Person mode is the sniper rifle which may be a little disappointing to some. It is also possible to man rocket launchers and gun turrets to target enemy positions.
Game modes include Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and a Zone Mode. These should be pretty well known to anyone who has played online games with the Zone mode being the newest mode in which each of the two teams must hold as many zones as possible in the levels. The more zones your team holds the more points you'll rack up. Warhawk allows both ranked and unranked matches with the former providing full stats tracking and rewards. One cool feature is that you can customise your character and your aircraft with different looks and insignias with different colours, opacities and the like. There are literally hundreds of combinations to select from which is nice, although at the pace you'll be running or flying around it may be a bit hard to tell the difference anyway.
|One of Warhawk's many vehicles.|
Now when we said that this was a single-player game only, we probably didn't clarify that you can actually play with between 2 and 4-players on a single console in online games. Sadly you just can't do anything offline - there are no bots or AI controlled players.
Unfortunately I do have some issues with the game. Firstly despite being in development for a number of years the game ships with a total of five, yes five, maps. Admittedly these are pretty big and there are some situations when only smaller sections are used, but one can't help but feel that this is all to lightweight given the amount of coverage the title has received over the years. Sure, the game is only $49.95 when you download it, but given that there are no single player modes at all it really feels overpriced. You can bet your bottom dollar that new maps will be released in the coming months and years - for a price.
|The 4-player split-screen mode in action.|
Another issue we have is the inability to set up servers. While in so many other games we can set up matches with 16 or so players on our internet connection (8Mbps down, 128kbps up) we could not create matches with more then 4-players at any one time in Warhawk. Given the size of each of the maps it means you would spend a hell of a long time running around looking for people, dying and then starting again. This is exactly why the developers needed some more maps, perhaps confined and/or "arena" styled maps. Furthermore there are still some bugs in the game - the servers often report that there are still a few places free in a game but when you try to join it will come up saying the session is full. Return to the menu and the game will still report the game having room for some more players. Other issues include an inability to select which side you're on in ranked matches which, while keeping games even, means you can't select to be on, or against, your friends. There's also no option to have open comms. While we can see that pressing L3 to open comms is a good idea for many people to stop annoying non-game related chatter (you know those ‘can you get me a drink’ comments to wives etc), if you're working together as a squad some groups of people may want to have continually open comms.
Finally and as we alluded to earlier there are no training missions. If you want to play this game you're going to be going online, using up internet, and getting blown out of the skies before you even getting to grips with the controls. If you're a newcomer, and you're thrown into a map with a few hardcore gamers you're going to be in a lot of trouble - especially if you just want to practice how to use items, fly the craft or use the vehicles.
|2-players on a single console.|
One area where Warhawk can't fail to impress is the graphics. While you may look at the surrounding screenshots and wonder about some of the texture quality, or the lack of detail in some areas what you can't see in these screenshots is the sheer size and scale of the game world. Each of the five maps are absolutely massive. Not only will it take you minutes to fly from one side of the map to another (or indeed much longer should your run or drive) but the maps are littered with mountains, trees, buildings, bunkers, observation posts, vehicles, roads while in the skies you have clouds and fog to contend with at high altitude. The game maintains a solid frame rate no matter the number of combatants on screen at any one time.
With THX certification the audio in Warhawk also impresses. There is some (although not enough for variety) orchestral music to set the mood, however it's the battlefield sound effects such as explosions, gunfire, and vehicles zooming around that make this so atmospheric with aggressive use of the surround sound channels.
|Close quarter combat, land and air.|
Despite all the development problems, and despite the numerours negative comments we've made in this review, Warhawk has come through as a very solid online multi-player game on the PS3. Still, with only five maps one can't help but feel short changed with this game - even at $AU49.95 for the downloadable version. The lack of any form of single-player modes also disappoints - even some training missions would have been nice to get you used to the controls before heading into battle against some hardcore gamers. Overall the game is one worth adding to your collection - and I'd be surprised if there weren't more downloadable maps down the line (for a small fee of course). Solid.
Review By: Dave WarnerOrder your copy now from Gameswarehouse.
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|GRAPHICS||The levels are massive, the detail impressive and frame rate solid.||83%|
|SOUND||Solid. Plenty of gunshots, explosions and some music combine well.||80%|
|GAMEPLAY||Some of the best battles we have seen online. Fast and frantic.||81%|
|VALUE||$49.95 for five, albeit massive, maps. $50 extra for the headset? OK value, but there should have been much more on the disc.||73%|
|OVERALL||Warhawk is another very solid title on the Playstation 3 - but yet again is still not the knockout blow Sony are hoping for. Online shooter fans need only apply for this blast of a game.||80%|