Sometimes a game designer decides they want to build a hybrid game. They’ll take a few ideas from different genres and mix them together to form some visionary new idea. Unfortunately, most of the time they focus more on one thing, or they don’t put enough of something and it tends to make the game feel unfinished or too spread out. However, on a rare occasion it has been done and done well. Starhawk is somewhat of a hybrid game, but which category does it fall under?
Starhawk is a spiritual successor of the game Warhawk. With the exception of the ability to fly in a vehicle of some sort, the games share very little. Right from the start, Starhawk feels good. The visuals are quite pleasing and the cut scenes are done in a colorful comic book sort of way. The story feels very much like a space western. Emmett Graves wears a neat dust scarf, one you’d see in a sand filled wasteland, while other characters wear cowboy hats or other familiar clothing with futuristic spins on them. Hell, even the space cargo ship looks like a space train!
The game is set in a distant future deep in space where everyone is battling for precious Rift Energy. Humans are spread out in colonies exploring The Frontier of space. That is, when they aren’t fighting off Outcasts. These Outcasts are mutated humans who are pretty much crazy and want to kill you and your friends. Emmett is in the middle of it, so it’s up to you to protect your fellow humans and wreck the faces of those dastardly Outcasts.
To be honest, I didn’t keep up with this game in development a whole lot, so I expected for the most part a space shooter type deal. Man, was I wrong, and I am glad. This game has what they call “Build and Battle”. The first mission gets you used to it, but essentially you run around in third person and can seamlessly pull up a radial menu and request buildings to be dropped. In order to build these things, you will need rift energy, which you either get from a Rift itself, or from killing Outcasts. These buildings ranged from turrets, which are obvious, supply bunkers which are filled with various weapons and ammo, and vehicle pads that can build bikes, jeeps, tanks, jet packs, and of course the title vehicle, the Starhawk. Of course there are also walls you can build as well as some sweet energy cannon towers. Most of these things can be upgraded. The system is so fluid, you just run along, wanna build something? DO IT! Press triangle to bring up a radial menu, click the thing you want, then you decide where you wanna put it, all while filling your enemies full of lead. You can also plan it so these things drop onto the enemies, which is very rewarding.
The campaign, while nothing to write home about, is fairly solid. The ground portions feel sort of like a tower defense game where you have more control. It’s sort of in a weird way like Orcs Must Die, but not as tower defense centric. At times the game feels all too easy, but then you are faced with a frustrating moment where you have to plan your builds just right or just get down right lucky. Sometimes the key can be as simple as putting a wall in just the right place.
Space is fairly similar except with dog fighting via StarHawks. The neat thing about the Starhawks is they can transform into ground based mechs. Although slow, they can come in handy when dealing with stuff on space stations. It’s really quite something how you can interact with levels in three aspects seamlessly. What I mean is, in space typically you are flying around protecting a large space station. While flying around it, it feels big and all, but the best part is you can land on it. Once there you can move around in the Starhawk’s mech form. Then to make it even better, you can get out of your mech and you feel the scale of the game. The space station is suddenly much larger. You are free to move around on foot, blasting stuff and even building things on it. It’s a really nice feeling that makes the game feel epic.
Really the only problem with the campaign is that you cannot save in the middle of a mission. If you have to quit for some reason, you will have to start that mission over. The worse part about this is you have to watch the cut scene over with no way to skip it. Though to be fair, the missions seem to only run about 20 minutes or so, but still.
Then there is the multiplayer. The multiplayer is so much fun. 16 v 16 matches in huge environments and everyone can build and battle. My god its epic! It’s neat to watch your team build up bases, spread out and build outposts, as well as plan attacks. The best part is that it’s much more fast-paced and that makes it sound. Imagine people zooming by on starhawks, tanks knocking down walls, snipers in towers picking people off, and any number of things. It feels much more like a battlefield than any other game I’ve played. On top of that, you level up based on wins, building stuff, or achieving certain goals in a match. You are then given skill points that you can use to purchase skills to better yourself. Along with that you unlock customization options for your character, so that’s neat too.
|Pros||Great graphics, Build and Battle is interesting and fun! Multiplayer is great|
|Cons||Sometimes it can feel too easy, then it can get super difficult. You can’t save in the middle of a mission.|
|Verdict||Starhawk is great because it does something a little different with a familiar spin on it. Being able to build stuff on the fly is a great mechanic and can truly change the gameplay and add replay ability for those wanting to try different approaches to missions. The Multiplayer is also one of the best I’ve played in some time. If you like tower defense, strategy games, third person shooters, dogfights, vehicle combat, or just having fun, Starhawk is for you.|