Starhawk Review

Starhawk (Available exclusively on PlayStation 3)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1-32
Genre: Third-person shooter
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: LightBox Interactive
Release Date: May 8, 2012
PSN: Online Multiplayer

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Starhawk T for teen because of blood, language and violence.  That about matches the content in the single player campaign, but multiplayer is certainly an M-rated experience.  Within five minutes of playing, f-bombs are dropped at an alarming rate.  The ESRB doesn’t rate the online portions of videogames because developers can’t control how other players act online.

Plays Like: If you’ve ever played Warhawk, you know only a fraction of the story here.  Starhawk ships with the same core gameplay for its multiplayer, while introducing tower defense elements, and fast-paced third-person shooter action.  The package actually seems to be three separate games in one, and therefore very unique.

Review Basis: Finished the five hour campaign, and tried all the online multiplayer modes.

Warhawk was one of the first PS3 games unveiled.  It fully supported the Sixaxis controller, and promised a lush single-player with the most hardcore online multiplayer for the PlayStation Network.  The final product ditched the solo stuff, focusing solely on multiplayer.  It was one of the first games to support trophies and be available for digital download.  Warhawk quickly became a cult hit.  Fast forward, and LightBox Interactive (Warhawk’s creators), have created a spiritual sequel.

The Great:

Starhawk features the best online multiplayer experience available on the PS3.  A few nuances make the game a little disjointed at times, but the myriad of options like fortifications to all the vehicles increase the epic nature of the battles. A cooperative team can push hard and reclaim lost territory; while another match might see your opponents make one key decision to achieve victory. Regardless of your strategy, fun is all but assured.

The Good:

+ Short campaign eases you into the combat.  It boasts fast-paced action, a beautiful presentation, excellent voice work and a decent challenge.

+ Tower defense. Players can summon walls, turrets and more to reinforce their position.  Knowing when and where enemies will spawn next helps greatly.

+ Strategy is rewarded.  Simply building a watchtower provides rudimentary cover, but connecting walls with gun-mounted turrets would do more of the job you want. Players are constantly encouraged to ponder new ways to fortify their position.

+ Wealth of vehicles. Hover bikes focus on get-in, get-out killing sprees, then you have jeeps, tanks, mech-suits, jetpacks and hawks…there’s no shortage of ways to bring the fight to your enemies.

+ Play as you wish.  Prefer the sky to eliminate enemies? Veteran players will develop a balance between building strong positions, and employing a mix of land-based attacks and hawks for dominating the battlefield.

+ Horde mode. Grab a few friends to take on wave after wave of increasingly difficult AI enemies.

+ Dual log-in splitscreen action.  Two players, one couch, dual PSN sign-in.  ’nuff said.

The So-So:

+/- Huge disparity between each mode. The strategies you use for single-player must drastically change in multiplayer.  Fortifications don’t last as long, turrets are less powerful, and vehicles can either provide an incredible advantage or major burden. Horde mode requires different tactics too, since defense is just as important as offense.

+/- Don’t play online without a headset. Since the PS3 doesn’t ship with a headset, most of the people I played with couldn’t communicate with me. Trying to formulate a plan without that is impossible and hurts the experience.

The Bad:

– Only two-player splitscreen. Some will be disappointed about the lack of four-player splitscreen. At least two-player uses the screen space efficiently and creatively.

The Ugly:

Think you’re an expert? Spending five hours with the campaign, and a few more with a buddy in Horde mode can make you think you know how to play. Once online, you basically have a new game to learn.

The Lowdown:

Starhawk is essentially three games in one. Once you learn the ropes, it offers some of the best PS3 multiplayer. If you enjoy online gaming, I can’t recommend this enough.  Those who prefer meaty campaigns might be disappointed here. Everyone else should at least try Starhawk because the many modes and features. I’m sure you’ll find something interesting!

Final Score: 8/10

4 thoughts on “Starhawk Review”

  1. Very fair review. In contrast to the 9s I’ve been seeing everywhere, you actually managed to be more fair and address the lack of a true single-player and offline multiplayer. It is what it is because we all know that Starhawk is supposed to be a multilayer-focused title, so the single-player aspects are definitely phoned in just to try and grab a wider audience. You’re the first review I’ve read that mentions the disparity between single-player, horde, and multiplayer. I never even knew that was an issue since everyone’s saying that single-player teaches you everything you need to know about multiplayer, but that’s not the real case here. It’s only a basic tutorial and a lot of aspects in multiplayer are different. Also, thanks for mentioning the lack of 4 player offline as a fault. No other review I’ve read even addresses that.

    Sadly, I’ll be skipping on Starhawk until its price drops or something. It’s not worth a 60$ investment from me because it’s not a complete game without having a deep offline multiplayer experience…and since it removed 4-player split-screen, it basically killed the appeal I had for it.

  2. It got an 8 on 10 because it’s of the super high production values, and the great online multiplayer, but it is very jarring when you move across the three different gameplay modes. Anyone who says differently is being way too nice. Sure it teaches you the ropes, but the truth is the gameplay is vastly different depending on which mode you play through. If you rely on the same tactics you did in the single player campaign you will be utterly destroyed in the multiplayer. The same can be said for the horde mode.

    Glad you enjoyed the review, and thanks for the nice comment. I like going in a different direction than the crowd when I feel differently than the rest of the media outlets out there. We have our own unique voice, and it’s extremely fun being able to show that. Most of the time we follow the current without even realizing it, simply because the game is either so good or so bad, but when a game like this pops up I’m sort of happy to be on opposing sides.

  3. Nice review as always guys, and iam with Ahmed here, i will wait also for the price drop, i didnt like that much warkhwak in the first place, i hope this is albeit different for the better, again as soon as gets a price drop i will be picking it up, thanks

    1. Thanks for the nice comment :) I enjoyed it, but can fully understand why everyone is waiting for a price drop. It’s mainly an online-only multiplayer game and if you weren’t too into Warhawk it makes sense to wait a bit.

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