Starhawk (Available exclusively on PlayStation 3)
ESRB Rating: T
Genre: Third-person shooter
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.
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.
+ 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.
+/- 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.
– 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.
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.
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