C2E2 | Hawken Demo

 C2E2 2013  Comments Off
Apr 262013



Today David and I were treated to a demo of Hawen. This is a free-to-play first person shooter massively multiplayer online game (I guess FTPFPSMMO would be easier). It centers around mech combat set in a dystopian world where giant robots piloted by humans rain ballistic hell upon each other.

This isn’t an average run-and-gun FPS though. There is a sturdy RPG element attached to Hawken where players earn experience points they can spend on leveling up certain branches of a skill tree. SR Marketing Manager Mark Tanjutco explained to us that no matter the level of the player, most people are fairly evenly matched because each skill leveled up in the game also features a negative effect. Essentially, the game is designed in a way that a level four player would be evenly matched with someone that is level 25.

There is a lot of typical current-gen sepia washing in Hawken, but given the world the game is set in it is appropriate.

There is a lot of typical current-gen sepia washing in Hawken, but given the world the game is set in it is appropriate.

The free-to-play aspect of is nicely designed. There are microtransactions available, but all items that you can purchase with real-world money are asthetic changes to your mech and don’t offer any advantage to the player. That is a refreshing change from typical microtransaction fueled games which are designed so that the only way one can win is to pay money.

If you’re going to be at C2E2, you should stop by Hawken’s booth (#1019) and check out the game. Or simply go to playhawken.com and check out their open beta that is currently in progress.

Nov 182011

Suddenly, free-to-play games have just gone to a whole new level.

The hot online action of mechs blowing each other apart took a turn for the awesome with the announcement from Crytek and Piranha Games that MechWarrior Online will use CryENGINE3 to power the blistering battles of robotic mayhem.

From early information, it looks like the F2P model will probably be supported by supplementing your in-game income to purchase newer, more powerful parts to customize your mech to better suit your play style. Well, of course, that’s the entire point of free games. When Valve made Team Fortress 2 free-to-play, their income from the in-game store (The Mann-Conomy) increased five-fold. Could this be a precursor to higher-quality games coming to us for free? I sure hope so.

I’d suggest heading over to their site to register for an account now!

Feb 232011

It’s a beautifully developed concept, the idea of creating multiplayer games in parallel to the campaign. Allowing seamless access to Xbox Live players to jump in and out of your campaign and either play alongside or fight against you. This is the concept developed and introduced by the creators of MindJack. Unfortunately, the concept was implemented into a poor quality game with dismal results.

The storyline for MindJack is confusing to say the least. You are given almost no information of who you are fighting, why you are fighting, and what your ultimate goal is. (SPOILER ALERT) From what I understand, the player  is the mind hacking essence of  Andrew Gardner who, having attempted to bring his daughter back to life, has discovered how to take over people’s minds using what is called a mind hack. Unfortunately, none of this crucial information is revealed until the final scene of the game. Gardner is controlling anyone and anything to reach his goal, specifically Jim Corbjin who is our main character playing through this game. As players we are killing random agents who seem to be awaiting us everywhere simply to reach the final destination and destroy the mind hacking machine. This plot might make sense if it wasn’t for the way in which it was presented to the player.  It’s depressing because it has the foundations of an incredible story.

MindJack is full of gems that await the patient player. The gems are covered in a filth of low quality gaming that are almost a replica of the Gears of War gameplay style with less impressive melee, grenade tossing, and graphics. The mechanics of player control are abominable, the level design and enemy AI is poor, but beyond the negative aspects are some fairly impressive little additions. MindJack introduced many intriguing characters including half ape cyborgs and even one full humanoid cyborg at the very end, none of which were ever explained or fully integrated into the story but all in their own right had value.

Another hidden gem is the music. The sounds generated in the game including the voice acting are less than sensational, but the music used in the game is convincing of something spectacular. It inspires interest, concern, and excitement. Unfortunately the beautiful music is dismissed when surrounded by repetitive noises and crappy gaming that is bound to make the player throw his controller at the wall.

Then of course there was the filth clogging the gaming filter. Levels consisted of run to a location, watch a cut scene, kill lots of people, watch another cut scene, and then repeat. Enemies which have no right to be super strong could take numerous bullets directly to the brain. Every NPC, including the cowering working girl in a skirt, has some kind of gun. With a mind hack they go from cowering insect to Rambo in moments, which in itself is not the problem. However the enemy AI’s instant recognition that you have become a target is a problem to anyone trying to integrate stealth into this game. Although success in this game can only be achieved in one way – shoot and kill – there was still replay value. The replay value of this game was developed in two ways, the multiplayer hacking and the plug-ins.

The multiplayer ability would make gameplay incredibly fun, that is, if playing the campaign mode were fun. If mind hacking were an available gameplay for Halo: Reach it would be the talk of the industry and every developer would be scrambling to implement the same gameplay style. However it wasn’t placed in a fun campaign, it was placed in MindJack, and so its value is severely diminished. Luckily, there is also a second replay value addition of “plug-ins”. This little gem of adding plug-ins is very smart as it allows you to power up or slightly adjust your game using plug-in rules to change your characters abilities in the game. Unfortunately once again, the game is not fun to play so replay is definitely not what I want. Also, I was seriously unhappy with the plug-in choices. There were some good ones allowing stronger armor, better aiming, faster hacking, but half the plug-ins had to do with gaming difficulty and other basic choices that should be available in the regular options menu. I think this is a quality idea that was once again poorly implemented. This game is full of fantastic opportunities gone awry.

After 20 hours of playing MindJack I can honestly say I’ve had my hacking fill. Even though I complained and wept, as I was brutally murdered by ridiculous robots that only die from specifically four bazooka blasts, I still found this game to be exciting and extremely fulfilling to complete. It was more than painful to play this game, but more than satisfactory to beat the living shit out of it.

ProsExceptional gameplay concepts for those that like to expand their gaming horizons
ConsGears of War copy gameplay with lackadaisical controls, minimal graphics, bad AI, weak story, and very little fun to be had
VerdictThis sensational concept for a new generation of gaming has flaccid results when placed in the poorly designed vessel of an old third person shooter