Starhawk | Review (PS3)

 PS3, Reviews  Comments Off
May 152012
 

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.

Starhawk

ProsGreat graphics, Build and Battle is interesting and fun! Multiplayer is great
ConsSometimes it can feel too easy, then it can get super difficult. You can’t save in the middle of a mission.
VerdictStarhawk 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.
Rating
90%

Oct 202011
 

Thanks to our newest member of the team, Adam, I was lucky enough to play in one of Bioware’s Beta Weekends for Star Wars: The Old Republic. It was more than I expected to be honest, which is quite something since my expectations were already so high. I wish I could share more information with you about that time I had, but unfortunately there is an NDA. I can say that in my opinion, it lives up to the hype. There sure is a lot of that going around too. The hype is so huge, I am sure several fans are getting a bad feeling, which makes sense. We have all been burned by over-hyping, one personal experience being with Warhammer. To make matters worse, there is even more hype being tossed around coming straight out of an interview with the co-founders of Bioware at The Gaming Liberty. One such quote had me thinking:

 

“One of the most common things we’re already hearing is that people seem to find it hard to go back to other MMOs once they play The Old Republic; because there’s a real sense of purpose to everything.”

 

 

One of the several MMO's I've played

At first I scratched my head, but then I gave it a little more thought. Ever since that fateful weekend, I have felt a little different. I can remember a while back ago I was able to juggle a few MMOs at a time. City of Heroes, Final Fantasy XI, World of Warcraft, all three of which I would and could play any time I wanted. That’s three MMOs that I spent time on. It might sound like a lot of time, but really with the right management skills you can be active in a couple games and reap the rewards of any “hardcore” player. Even this year I was doubling up on some Rift and WoW but as SWTOR became closer I decided to quit those two games.

Oh Guild Wars 2, maybe some other time I shall get to sample you.

Looking to the future, I am always searching for another MMO to try out. It’s the way of the MMO Junkie, you see. Always looking for the next fix. I had seemingly planned out my next MMORPGs for the coming year. I’d start with Final Fantasy XIV, which turned out to be a train wreck. I would then try out Rift, which wasnt too bad, it was just missing something. Then I’d have Star Wars: The Old Republic. After that, while still playing SWTOR as my main MMO, I’d be trying out Guild Wars 2 as well as that Warhammer 40k MMO. Heck, I’d probably try out The Secret World too. That is, until I played the SWTOR beta. Ever since then I can’t even imagine playing another game. I know I sound absolutely bonkers, but the mere mention of those other games makes me frown that I will have to miss out on them. My sadness quickly fades as I tell myself “Don’t worry, we will have SWTOR, that’s all we need.” It’s so odd to think about JUST playing one MMO. It’s like Gene Simmons finally getting married.

He really got married.

Currently I sit waiting for December. I have two long months to wait until SWTOR comes out. There are plenty of options available for me to play to distract me until then. There are a ton of quality games that have recently gone free to play. You have the standard Lord of The Rings Online, Age of Conan, City of Heroes, and soon Star Trek Online will join them as free to play. As I give them the old college try, I am discouraged and log out. I know its just a temporary game, but it still doesn’t fill that void deep in my MMO soul. It’s a void that SWTOR created and only it can fill. I am not saying SWTOR will be for everyone or that it’s totally groundbreaking, because to be frank it’s not revolutionary or anything. It’s kind of like having a burger at Five Guys. You know there are other burgers out there but no one quite does it like Five Guys. I do know though, that from my experience it entertained the hell out of me and I can’t see myself in a world without it.

SWTOR is the Five Guys of MMOs, Delicious and Crispy Bacon!

Jun 292011
 

You know, I don’t get angry very often, but when I do I tend to ROBORAGE. There are two things bothering me right now, so lets quit wasting time and get pissed.

Hackers

These blasted hackers are terrible people. You might think it’s funny and madcap, or that Sony deserved it because they had some issues with their security, but wait just a moment. Ok, yes. Sony kind of dropped the ball with their security, but ultimately who really paid the price? The gamers did. That’s right, because of these hackers, the Sony Online network went down and hundreds of thousands of gamers (if not more) were unable to enjoy their hobby to the fullest. These people think they are making some grand display, perhaps showing the faults of the Sony security or some stupid BS. Well congrats, but now I can’t freaking play my damned games! You know, you could have just contacted Sony and said “Hey guys, there’s an issue with your network.” I mean, ultimately we got some free stuff out of the deal, but really you just made us gamers angry. Obviously you hackers are nerds like us, except without souls. Then you try and attack other companies like Bethesda and Sega? Come on guys, shut the EFF up. If you wanna hack the government or some chick’s facebook to steal her pics, go for it, have fun, post that shit on 4chan, but DO NOT EFF with the gamers.

MMO Players

This is how I feel when I interact with the typical Douche bag MMO player.

I am an MMO player, as many of our readers may have gathered. I’d like to think, however, that I am not your typical MMO player. I think what separates me from the pack is that I try not to be a total douche-bag. It really became clear to me how douchy MMO players could be when I was listening to a certain podcast. They were talking about Star Wars: The Old Republic and their commendations system for the warzones. This feature is one in which at the end of the battle, players vote on who they think was the MVP of the match and that person gets extra rewards. The hosts of the podcast were crying about how there was no incentive for the people to vote because they dont get anything for it. WHAT? Is it so hard to be cool to each other? If someone deserves some props, give them props. Why does every little action in an MMO have to have some kind of validation with it? Why not just feel good because you kicked butt? And then, if this guy helped us a lot, good job! This is obviously just my opinion, but I see actions such as this way too often. What happened to just running past someone who’s fighting something and throwing a quick heal on them, just because? I did that once in Rift and got a confusing tell asking me why I would do such a thing. When i explained that I was just being nice he said “LOL I’ve never seen that b4, whatever.” I can remember another instance where my girlfriend was playing WoW and she spotted someone fighting something pretty tough and decided to throw a few shots at it to help out. She was then sent an insulting tell explaining that she wouldn’t get credit for helping kill it and to never, ever do that again. Really? So the person was mad because she got some help? It’s not like she was kill stealing or anything. And then, you get into a pickup dungeon group and everyone is so on edge, ready to vote-kick you for the slightest thing. No one wants to just sit back and have fun with it. It’s a wonder that I enjoy MMOs as much as I do with the way these people act, all take take take. It’s not just MMOs, either. Even in everyday situations, no one is willing to help unless there is something in it for them.

Mar 042011
 

Water Rift opening

Running around collecting glowing stones and killing ogres as ordered by some old man in town. I sure hope he is going to pay me well. Wait, what is that in the distance? Moving closer it almost looks like a rip in space and time. What is going on? The strange light spreads and from the sky black death filled tentacles grab the ground below. The grass begins to die and strange growths begin to emerge from the earth. Suddenly skeletons rise to their feet and turn their eyeless skulls towards me. I raise my shield to block the incoming assault. I try to fend them off the best I can, but there are too many of them. Suddenly a bright blast sends the undead horde to the ground. I look over and see reinforcements have arrived. We nod to each other with a silent decision to close this Rift.

If you are an MMO fan and have kept your eye on the current events in that realm, chances are you’ve heard about Rift. I can probably guess that what you’ve heard has mostly been good too. Well, those reports are pretty much right. Rift is very fun. No ifs ands or buts. There really is something for everyone.

The User Interface is fully customizable.

First things first. I know a few people that when they see a picture of a game they see the UI and say “yup, looks like every other mmo”. There are a few points I’d like to make about this unusual statement. For one, that UI WORKS! Why screw it up? What would YOU have it look like? Second, Rift allows you to fully customize your UI to your liking. You can make stuff bigger, smaller, move them all around, and pretty much make it suit your play style. Personally I just resized everything to make more of the game visible. I’ve seen several interesting UIs people have implemented.

You begin by creating your character. You can choose between two factions: Guardian and Defiant. Guardians to me seem like extreme religious zealots. Either that or violent hippies. Defiants however are the cool guys who mix magic with machines. Guess who I picked? That’s right baby, DEFIANT! From there you can pick between four classes. Warrior, Cleric, Rogue, and Mage are your options. Oh man, just four classes? What a bummer right? WRONG! Just keep reading. You pick one of those classes then you can choose how he looks. The creation isn’t the best, but its not the worst. You have enough options to make sure your character doesn’t look ugly, unless that’s what your going for, then you can do the opposite. Once you are in game, your first quest allows you to pick a soul. Here is where Rift starts to get awesome. Each class has nine souls to choose from. You can have three active at any time as your current role or spec. You can eventually have up to four roles. The first three souls you get from the starter quests. The rest you have to get later on.


Souls have two features. The top half are the branches. These are where you put your soul points. They are often passive abilities that grant you bonuses or make various skills better. There are also a few abilities you can get in the branches. Below the branches are the roots. These are abilities learned depending on how many soul points you’ve used in the branches. The more points you spend in the branches, the more root abilities you get. You can combine these souls in any way to fit your play style. Sure, there are a few combinations that work better than others, but you are by no means pigeonholed into doing something cookie cutter. What’s fun are the souls that make for a unique play style. Want to play a Tanking Rogue? How about a Healing mage? A ranged magic based Warrior? All three possible! One thing they’ve done is bring back support roles. For a while it seemed like you could just be Tank, Healer and DPS. Well now there are hybrids that can definitely turn the tide in a tough fight. The soul customization is interesting enough as it is to play with.

As you level you will notice a lot of the same types of quests that are pretty much standard for most MMOs. Kill this and get that types of quests. There are a few things that do keep this interesting. A very minor addition, but one I don’t know how anyone lives without is “Group Looting”. Let me explain: In your typical MMO say you are out questing or whatever. You kill a group of enemies. For this example lets say you killed four and they are all in around the same place, like a five yard radius at least. You then would have to loot each and every one. In Rift you would only have to loot one. All enemies within that space have their loot grouped up into one right click. I know, that doesn’t seem all that spectacular, but the lazy side of me cheers in delight.

Earth Rift opening

More importantly, while you quest there is always something else going on. Most of these goings on have to do with the game’s namesake, Rifts. At any time and at any place a rift could open up. You can choose to just run by it and hope nothing attacks you, or try to seal it. There are Minor Rifts and Major Rifts. Minors you can MAYBE do yourself depending on your level and skill but it’d be better with a few friends. Major Rifts you will want a much larger group. Now before you sigh thinking you’re going to need to make all sorts of weird internet friends to do these major rifts with, I will reassure you. Even if you are not grouped, others will show up. Right on the top of your screen will be a button that says Join Public Group. This is optional, but its probably best to join so healers can see your HP and heal accordingly. Typically a Rift has five stages. If you complete them fast enough you can unlock a bonus stage. During the Rift your actions go towards the group’s contributions. Once the rift is sealed you are rewarded with currency and items depending on how well you did. I’ve heard that in some cases, different classes can have a harder time getting their contribution up, while others have an easier time. Along with the Rifts there are also Invasions to deal with. These forces spread out across the map looking for quest hubs to take over. These encounters are similar to rifts in that you often can join a public group to kill them off. You are also rewarded in the same way. These of course are optional, unless the invasion decided to take control of the quest hub you were using. Aside from these are zone wide events that take place periodically depending on the population of the zone. These events often cause a large amount of Rifts to appear as well as an invasions. Questing during one of these events can be possible, however I advise against it. Plus, partaking in one of these events can often give you some great rewards, or the higher level currency used to get some really neat things.

Several Rifts opening up during a zone event.

These events make the world feel a little more alive and there is always something going on. There are also dungeons and battlegrounds to participate in, which are fun. The PvP so far has been pretty excellent. The Warfronts, which is what the battlegrounds are called, can be a little frustrating if your team doesn’t have a healer. The combat is fun, with the various souls you have many options on how you play your character. The crafting seems typical as well though to be honest I am not that deep into the crafting. There do seem to be abilities to customize recipes with certain ingredients that will give specific stats. Also, in your travels you will discover artifacts that are part of sets. Each completed set can be turned in for another currency used to buy silly helmets, mounts, and even pets. Endgame fans need not fret either, as there are already Raid instances and Raid Rifts available.

Bring it on!

The visuals are pretty nice and the armor designs are neat to look at. Some of the weapons are a little iffy, but mostly nice to have. Dying armor is a nice addition to this game that brings out more customization. The music and overall sound of the game is pretty standard. Epic scores for cutscenes and evil looking places as well as ambiance melodies when nothing is really going on.

Most of my gripes so far have not been the fault of the game to be honest. Of course with any game there will be players who get on your nerves. I did find a lack of a guild vault to be a concern. I hope this will be added in future updates. Trion Worlds seem to be in pretty good control and have launched a pretty polished game.

Rift: Planes of Telara

ProsThere is always something fun to do. Rifts, Invasions, PvP, OH MY! Nice visuals. The Souls are really awesome and customizable. You really have a lot of freedom.
ConsNo guild vault.
VerdictWhile Rift does not bring a whole lot of new ideas to the table, it does take a lot of good ideas from other sources and almost molds them into their own. Some might just look at the game in passing and feel its *more of the same* but they'd honestly be wrong. As I play I see familiar things, but they also feel different, smoother, and more fun. So while they aren't reinventing the wheel, they are definitely making the ride much more fun and comfortable.
Rating
90%
Dec 312010
 

Unless you’ve been keeping your nose to the ground in the MMO news world, you might not know about Rift. I am here to tell you that you should be paying attention to this one. I finally got into the beta for this most recent event. It was also probably the best one since it allowed interaction between the factions. The experience was only for levels one through twenty. While not ground breaking, the game has a lot of potential. The gameplay is a lot of fun and can become very addicting.

When you first create your character, you pick a faction. The Defiant are the technology savvy pricks of the game. The Guardians seem to be the goody-two-shoe hippie faction. I picked Guardian since I had some friends already playing this faction on a PvP server and I wished to join them. From there, you customize your character’s appearance. It’s not the most in depth customization, but you can pretty much make your character look decent. Then you choose a calling. These callings are Warrior, Cleric, Rogue, and Mage. I chose Warrior.

Greeted by a gorgeous cut scene, you are ready to get down to business. You are given a simple “talk to someone” quest to earn your first soul. What is a soul you might ask? Well, I am glad you asked since I am anxious to tell you! Souls are what makes your calling different. They are more or less talent trees, if you are at all familiar with WoW. However, they work a little differently. You have branches at the top in which you put points. Below are the roots. You learn a new root ability for the number of branches in which you put points. If an ability has the number 10 in it’s box, you need to spend 10 points to unlock it. Most of the branches are passive abilities that buff your character, but there are a few activated abilities. The thing that makes these souls very interesting is the ability to have ANY three of the calling’s soul selection. The best way I can explain this is by using another WoW reference. You have the plate wearing classes, so you select three trees from those. You could essentially take the Holy Paladin tree, Protection Warrior tree, and the Unholy Death Knight tree. That’s your character. You can customize them as you wish. You also get four role slots, which means your character can specialize in four different combinations of souls. This form of character customization is pretty interesting to work with. The one minor annoyance is that some of the souls have a few abilities that are pretty much the same, or they share a cooldown. However, when you start putting things together and making your class, you will have enough to work with this may not even be noticeable.

What the Soul Trees look like.

Graphically the game is very pretty. The environments were well done for the areas we had access too. The UI will look very familiar to MMO vets. It’s the standard UI for most MMO’s these days. The characters look nice, and the armor and weapons have looked pretty awesome so far. I did not get too deep into the crafting, but it looks to be your standard MMO crafting, though there was a slot to add planar essence and such to enhance equipment you can make, which might be interesting.

The gameplay flows nicely and the skills and abilities are fun to use, but it’s nothing mold shattering. The one thing that is pretty neat and is pretty much the focus of this game is that as you are questing or even ganking suckas in your territory, stuff is happening ALL THE TIME. The world is very persistent! Rifts will open in random spots unleashing powerful enemies and making the enemies in the area stronger. Your job is to close them. Rifts are kind of like the Public Quests in Warhammer, but much more fun and always happening somewhere. Many Rifts involve Naughty Tentacles, so you know the RoboStaff loves that! Along with Rifts there are invasions from NPC factions, Elemental invasion, even the other player Faction. Each time you succeed in defending an invasion or a Rift, you get rewards based on how well you did during the event. It really is a very interesting system. I mean, at any time you could be running along and then notice something funny out of the corner of your eye. You then turn around and then suddenly a rift opens up. Sometimes Invasion forces run into each other and they start fighting amongst themselves. It gives the world some life, and makes you feel like you need to help in the efforts to protect these towns and people from rifts and invasions. Sometimes they will overrun a quest hub. In order to turn in all those quests you worked hard to complete you will have to battle the forces of evil, or wait for someone else to do it. If you are not ready to accept the rifts, this could be annoying. I think its a breath of fresh air and gives life to a usually stagnate world.

TENTACLES! HURRAY!

Rift, as it is. will not be considered a groundbreaking MMO, but it has some great content. If the game stays the course past level twenty, it could still be a very rewarding experience. I have high hopes for this one. It’s just fun. Even if I’ve done some of the same things in other games, I obviously still enjoy those things. It’s nice to do them in a different world. It has enough new ideas meshed with familiar ones to get a decent player base… as long as Trion doesn’t screw it up.

New Rift Trailer

 News, Trailers  Comments Off
Dec 022010
 

MMO fans have probably been keeping their eye on Trion Worlds’ upcoming game Rift. It’s shaping up to be quite nice looking from everything they’ve revealed thus far. They boast of a truly dynamic world and if what they’ve showed us is true, they might nail it on the head. This new trailer details a little bit of what we should (hopefully) expect when Rift finally launches. You can sign up for the beta testing phase at www.Riftgame.com. Check out this trailer and tell us what you think.