[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”” developers=”LightBox Interactive” publishers=”Sony Computer Entertainment” platforms=”” genres=”” release_date=”May 8, 2012″]
Starhawk, a spiritual successor to Warhawk, is brought to us by LightBox Interactive, the spiritual successor to the Warhawk developer Incognito Games. Warhawk, released in 2007, became a hit PS3 exclusive mainly due to the decision to throw out the single player mode and polish the multiplayer turning Warhawk into a multiplayer only title. LightBox decided to go a different route with Starhawk and throw in a single player campaign as well as a co-op horde-like mode. Did LightBox make a mistake by not focusing solely on multiplayer or do we have another hit PS3 exclusive on our hands?
Starhawk puts the player in the shoes of Emmett Graves, an energy miner from a colony named Frontier stylized after the American Wild West. The plot is full of space western clichés with Emmett being a gun for hire, former humans twisted into monsters that are more than they seem, and an evil force with the ability to end life as we know it. If this plot sounds familiar, it can be found in hit movies like Serenity and it is much better told there. That is not to say that the plot is bad in Starhawk but at the end you will be glad that the campaign is about 5 or 6 hours and nothing more than a primer for the multiplayer.
Starhawk plays like a traditional third person shooter until you start summoning structures from orbit. Being able to build defenses on the fly makes Starhawk start feeling more like real-time strategy game from the third person. Included in the third person fighting are land vehicles such as a hover bike , jeep, and tank which are all standard fare in most shooters these days in some form or another. These vehicles are usually deployed with the buildings you summon. Soon after you learn about dropping structures you will be engaging in space combat with flying spaceships called Hawks that can also turn into mechs. Plot aside, the three different gameplay styles create a nice dynamic that keeps the game from getting stale even with its short campaign.
Starhawk’s multiplayer takes all that is in campaign from buildings and mechs and turns it on its head with playing against like-minded people who are faster and smarter than the campaign AI. Strategies change because all that training from campaign just isn’t effective in tackling your new foes. Multiplayer is truly where Starhawk shines with fast paced battles and no single match being the same as the last due to a near endless list of tactics to attack and defend points due to the shooting,building, and ‘mech’ing gameplay elements. The only downside to the pace is that you don’t have time to marvel at the beautiful design work on the maps. The various locales look great in HD but stopping to smell the flowers so to speak will result in a poor kill death ratio.
Starhawk’s last mode of play is the co-op horde like mode. It’s the typical fare once again of you and your buddies against waves of enemy AI. And also once again, what you learned in single player and multiplayer won’t help you in this mode. Strategies and tactics must change. Hopping between all the modes in Starhawk can have a shell-shock like effect of leaving you feeling ineffective at first but once you learn the nuances of each mode, the transition is hardly noticeable. Hopping between modes is also a good way to keep the game fresh.
Starhawk only really needs one of its modes and that is multiplayer. The campaign and horde mode are more like icing on the cake but one has to wonder how good the multiplayer could have been if the decision was made to go multi only like its predecessor Warhawk.