Starhawk’s single player game is something I’ve been waiting to get my hands on for a while now and I’m glad to say it was well worth the wait. This sci-fi third-person shooter is shaping up to be a lot of fun, especially given the original game’s lack of an offline side. But can it compete in a genre crowded with classics like Uncharted and Gears of War? Being able to instantly drop an arsenal of buildings, turret towers and vehicles from your own personal orbital carrier will certainly help its cause.
This early mission introduces the eagerly awaited building mechanics of the game. First though, it was time to clear the building site of a few aliens, who have a neon-Chimera feel to them. The standard assault rifle weapon was more than capable of taking them on, with no sign of any unwanted auto-aim to take away your fun. Red barrels and grenades provide huge explosions scattering bodies everywhere in glorious fashion. After playing through Brink, recently, it felt good to have grenades that erupted in fire again instead acting like a popped semi-deflated beach ball.
One awkward omission I encountered was the lack of a dodge move. After trying all sorts of button combinations, the best I could manage was a regular jump, which seems a little odd for a TPS title. Hopefully, there’ll be one in the final game or maybe I was just failing to find it like a nonce.
Once the alien attack was repelled -complete with experimental hopping, ducking and accidental grenadage- I had to use a radial menu to select a structure to maintain a large turquoise energy rift that was surging out of the ground. The following battle was to defend it while it powered up. A handy indicator let me know where and when the next wave of enemies was going to land which was helpful in deciding where to build any defences. Extra items appeared on the construction menu for this part of the battle including giant laser cannons, auto-turrets and vehicle garages. The buildings crash down onto the planet from an orbital carrier and then erect themselves in front of your eyes. It looks great, it’s fast and can be used to flatten enemies underneath. What’s not to like?
The laser turret’s powerful pulse blasts were great for taking out alien mech-walkers, but not so great for pinpointing on-foot enemies. You can pilot your own mech too, stomping around the battlefield handing out lasery justice. For the final part of the battle, I had to turn the mech into a warplane (or Starhawk as it’s probably called), with a cool Transformer-like transition.
With little instruction as to how to control the aircraft, I was a little all over the place initially and the fight didn’t last long enough to really get to grips with it. There were only a handful of flying rivals to take down. Once locked-on though the machine gun fire was reliable enough for this early task. Impressive heights can be reached as you soar over the battlefield, showing off the world below before you swoop back down. It’s going to be a lot of fun seeing how late you can leave it before you transform back into a walker-mech. Failing that, just try to land on a lone alien nose-first. The hover mode from Warhawk will be missed, as it allowed players to wreck havoc on ground troops, until someone brought a rocket-launcher to the party that is.
With a full campaign mode to practice with this time, the online matches should be much more accessible. Consider us signed up for this fight.
Eager for more info? Then check out Carl's Q&A developer session article here.
Starhawk is coming exclusively to the PS3 in 2012.