Starhawk is an upcoming third-person shooter set to be released on May 8. This PlayStation 3 exclusive is the spiritual successor to Warhawk, a multiplayer-only third-person shooter from 2007. Starhawk is being developed by LightBox Interactive, which is composed of several former members of Warhawk developer Incognito Entertainment. Starhawk aims to be like Warhawk, except in space, and with an included single player campaign. Will Starhawk be able to bring everything together and exceed what Warhawk was?
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: LightBox Interactive
Genre: Third-Person Terrain-Building Warfare
Release Date: May 8, 2012
ESRB Rating: Rating Pending
The multiplayer aspect of the beta pits two teams against each other, one the Rifters and one the Outcasts, in either Capture the Flag or Team Deathmatch. The Rifters are human colonists who are trying to harvest planets of their valuable Rift Energy. The Outcasts seek only to protect the Rift Energy from the Rifters. (Think of a futuristic cowboys and Indians idea.) The game types are basic and typical, with standard shooter controls – X to jump, Square to reload, Circle to squat, R3 to melee, etc. You’ve got a nifty weapon wheel you can bring up with the d-pad, and you pick up other weapons around the map, akin to how it’s done in games like Unreal Tournament 3.
But then you get to the Triangle button, and here is where the similarities end. Triangle brings up another wheel, but this one gives you the options to build things. Much like when you respawn and deploy from space onto whatever spot on the map you choose, bursting from the pod once you hit the ground, you choose what you want to build and that, too, falls from the sky and crashes with a tremendous noise. You can build walls, garages, auto turrets, sniper towers, pod beacons, supply bunkers, jetpack dispensers, launch pads, beam turrets, and energy shields.
Yeah, I know – you’re looking at the words “jetpack dispenser” and wishing you had one in your living room. Me too. If there’s anything we learned from LittleBigPlanet and Killzone 3, it’s that jetpacks are awesome. This holds true in the Starhawk beta as well – strap on a jetpack and let all your wildest dreams come true.
The best part about the deployment of equipment is that, while the maps have set terrain, you are basically adding your own terrain to it, making it so that no two games are ever really exactly the same. You can build sniper towers on top of buildings already in the terrain, adding more features to them and making it easier to pick off enemies across the way. Or set up a garage outside of your spawn point, so you can grab some weapons before you take off. You can set things up however you and your team want it to look, with all the modern conveniences you need.
The game runs smooth and looks gorgeous. One of the maps, Acid Sea, has a giant – well, acid sea, for lack of a better description. Fall in the sea and you’re toast. I should know, I spent a few hilarious moments there. The map itself seemed overly huge for the small games I kept getting thrown into, but I’m sure if I’d found one with more people in it, it would have been more fun. On the upside, there’s no cap on how much you can sprint, so you can run around like a madman at top speed until you find someone and shoot them in the face. Bonus!
The Starhawk multiplayer beta is fun but it’s not really much to write home about at this point. Everything in it is pretty basic and standard, and while the whole Real Time Strategy feel of being able to mold the terrain makes it more interesting, it wasn’t really doing much for me. I like it more and more each time I play it and acclimate myself a little more to the strategy behind it all, but I’m also a bit overwhelmed by the players who have obviously already dedicated hundreds of hours to it and just want to do things their way. This game has the potential to swing to either side of the spectrum – done well, it could be a huge time suck; done poorly, it could simply suck.