The sky’s the limit in ‘Warhawk’

It seems the open skies are where it's at for online gaming.

October 01, 2007

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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It seems the open skies are where it's at for online gaming. Warhawk is the Playstation 3's first big online-only game, and the first game to truly show how robust Sony's Playstation Network can be.

WarhawkWarhawk is a chaotic and addictive multiplayer game that takes place (mostly) in the skies as you dogfight your way to online supremacy. It may or may not be coincidence that one of Xbox Live's first big online entrants was another flying game, 'Crimson Skies.' Either way, Sony smartly made a game that is fantastic for all kinds of gamers, hardcore and non-hardcore alike.

In Warhawk, you always begin games and respawns on foot, with plenty of handheld weapons at your disposal, but it's rare that you'll actually end up in a firefight on the ground against another human. This is because every map is full of all kinds of vehicles for your destructive pleasure. If you want a third-person army shooter, look elsewhere. Warhawk is about big guns and fast planes, with a few other vehicles mixed in for good measure.

Anyone who has played a dogfighting game in the past will instantly feel at home in Warhawk. You're automatically given access to machine guns, missiles, turbo boosts and brakes once you jump in plane. Where a lot of the game's strategy comes into play is with the powerups that are scattered about the skies. If you don't master how and when to use these powerups, you are, as we like to say, screwed. When you acquire powerups, they'll automatically be mapped to the D-pad. You can then choose which one you want to use and activate it with the L1 button. You have to learn to quickly move between the offensive and defensive weapons though. For instance, you may be hot on the tail of an enemy jet, ready to unload some radar swarm missiles, when suddenly your own radars go off, telling you you're about to be pounded by another missile. You'll have to quickly switch to your chaff grenade and use that to counteract the enemy missile. It's a balancing act but it's truly fun and never gets old. The fighting is so fast and furious in Warhawk that you need to have as much a good offence as a good defence, and some of these powerups are an absolute necessity when entering enemy territory.

Control-wise, players can choose between using either the Sixaxis tilt controls or the analog sticks, and thank the blessed folks at Incognito for not forcing the Sixaxis controls on gamers like in Factor 5's 'Lair'. Lair was an absolute mess control-wise but Warhawk feels silky-smooth when using the analog sticks. You don't have to master any convoluted controls or button combos to do some crazy midair flips or 180-degree turns. In other words, you don't have to be an actual airplane pilot to look like a pro, very fast.

Warhawk Dogfight!Warhawk truly is a rock-solid online game in terms of how smooth it runs and how easy it is to navigate menus. The game has shipped with four game modes (all the classics - Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Zone Mode) though don't be surprised if more are added in the coming months. It's easy to filter searches for matches to play only what you'd like or to make your set up your own game, and Warhawk supports clans for the most hardcore of gamers. There is a seemingly endless amount of customizable options so it's easy to make everyone happy and to alter games so help balance out the teams.

The arenas themselves are superb, with plenty of open areas that are peppered with canyons and valleys where you can sneak up on enemies or dodge their attacks. And there's never any shortage of vehicles and armaments on the ground if you want to launch an attack that way. Tanks, 4x4's, and ground-mounted turrets of all kinds are in abundance all around you, so don't think for a second that if you're bad in the air that you're usless. And like any good online game, there's always more to the maps than meets the eye. Those who play often and memorize all the ins and outs of the maps will be rewarded greatly.

We were a little upset with the lack of communication in Warhawk, but that really isn't the fault of the developer or Sony. In fact, Sony has done nothing but do its best to encourage online chatter by including a Bluetooth headset with the retail version of the game. That's a huge bonus and for those complaining that the cost doesn't justify a multiplayer-only game, it puts them right in their place.

My only significant complaint is that there was no training or practice mode in Warhawk. Granted it doesn't take too long to get the hang of the basic controls, it would be nice to be able to really practice your moves in a setting that isn't full of people shooting heat-seeking missiles at you.

Anyone who owns a Playstation 3 and wants to see what the system's online compotent is really capable of, should definitely look into purchasing Warhawk.

Warhawk
Format: Playstation 3
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Incognito
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Official Site: http://www.us.playstation.com/Warhawk/

Rating: 8 / 10

 
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