Warhawk is an age-old PlayStation brand. In fact, those of you who were to young to remember, the original Warhawk was actually one of the first PlayStation games nearly a dozen years back. It, along with Twisted Metal and Jet Moto, all shared the very same game engine that was developed by SingleTrac, who we know today as Incognito. Warhawk 2 took life on the PlayStation, but it was canceled fairly quick, and media of the game doesn't exist. Much like on the original PlayStation, the rejuvenated Warhawk on the PS3 continued to have a very knotted development cycle, with controversy constantly around it. We lost the single-player aspect of the game, but the emphasis on multiplayer increased due to it. Regardless, the game is finally here and it's terrific.
In a discussion with a fellow friend and gamer, on the top of Warhawk, my friend put it best by saying Warhawk is like three action games in one. You've got your on-foot, person-to-person confrontations; you've got your aerial-combat confrontations; and you've got your ground arsenal confrontations (tanks, mounted turrets, missile launch turrets, machine gun turrets, jeeps, etc). The game is epic beyond my wildest expectations and now that I've fallen in, I can't get out.
There are five maps to choose from, all of which that can be played in various modes such as zone control, capture the flag, deathmatch, and team deathmatch. Depending on the match type, stages will also vary in size to reduce tedium. For instance, in deathmatch, the stages will be smaller so that you don't have to fly all the way to the other side of the stage just to find your opponents - believe me, it's for the best, because these stages are huge. So don't be fooled by the small count in individual stages, because the size variations do mix things up. But moreover, as with any online multiplayer title, downloadable stages can be had eventually on the PlayStation Network. Sony has yet to give a time frame on the newest set of battlegrounds for the game, but rest assured that they are coming soon.
In terms of scope, the size of the stages reflect the size of the game's multiplayer support: up to 32 players all in one match. While Resistance continues to be the largest console shooter with 40 players simultaneously, Warhawk is right behind it and we're highly content with that. Though it should be how much larger each stage in Warhawk is compared to a stage in Resistance, in addition to also realizing that Warhawk is more than just an on-foot shooter. All of that considered, Warhawk may very well be one of the most impressive online shooters to date.
If you're the only one with a PlayStation 3 out of your social circle, but you do have a few extra controllers, feel free to jump in and play online simultaneously with your friend. Up to 4 split-screens can compete on one TV, and there is no special mode required to enable the multiplayer; all you have to do is press start on a another controller, and you're all set. Of course, you can play the split-screen offline, as well.
You will have to choose between two forces, the Eucadians or the Chernovans. Each force has their own respective uniform design, as well as different looking machinery. When you select your alliance, you'll also be prompted to create your character. At first you'll only have the basic accessories to work with, but the more you play and the more rewards you pick up, then the more customization options will be given to you. There's a plethora of weapons for on-footers to pick-up, everything from shotguns, to rocket launchers, to sniper rifles, to machine guns, grenades, and so forth. Gamers looking to take to the skies will be able to pick up a whole slew of weapons for their warhawks such as homing missiles, homing rockets, lightning, drop-bombs, and much more. Defensive pick ups are featured, as well - so rest at ease.
Hop into a tank or a jeep with a mounted turret and start paving your way on the ground. A buddy system for both vehicles ensures co-operative gameplay, and many will find that quite a blast. You can hop into one of the mounted rocket launching or machine gun turrets and go on the defensive protecting your base. The action is furious, with explosions and gun fire every you go - but it makes the game just that damn good. Everything is well balanced, and no one vehicle or piece of machinery has any significant advantages over another. I've yet to perfect my warhawking, so my aerial skills need work. But I do love hopping into a tank and obliterating everything in sight, all the way until the enemy's base - it's a wonderful feeling.
Warhawk is that absurdly addictive online game that you've always wanted, but too scared to play. In the midst of writing this review, I just spent an hour playing, and all I wanted to do was confirm one little tidbit for the review. Even back when I was playing the beta, I frequently found myself powering on my system, promising myself I'd only play an hour. That hour would later turn to three, and the only reason I'd stop playing is because a server may have disconnected me or the beta crashed. Be assured that there will be no crashing with Warhawk, as the final game runs much smoother than the beta did. The framerate is absolutely perfect, without any slowdown, no matter how crazy the action gets.
My only gripe with the game is the gun selection, which forces you to use the D-pad. Why is this a problem? Because when you need to switch weapons, you have to remove your hand off of the left analog, in order to see in which box you have a weapon, so that you can select it. And in the heat of battle, this can lead to a death. There are eight boxes in total for carrying weapons, and a separate box for the grenades. After some play time, you'll remember where each weapon goes (each box is designated for a specific weapon), and you'll able to select what you need much quicker. Still, it's a quirk and it's bothersome - a system like Resistance's would've been nicer, where you an just quickly shuffle through weapons.
While the game isn't the most stunning videogame ever, there's still a lot to like here. As mentioned, a solid framerate operates the game no matter how many players are on screen, ensuring that everything runs smoothly. Likewise, the details in the environments are absolutely filled with solid texture work, on top of stunning water effects and some of the best fog and clouds period. There are tons of different structures in the stages, and you can go anywhere you see fit (provided you don't leave the combat area completely).
Details on the warhawks, jeeps and tanks are pretty solid, but player detail isn't overwhelmingly spectacular. Still, considering the size of the game the character models are a lot better than what I had anticipated and I doubt many will find a problem with them. In terms of resolutions, the game runs natively in 720p, but can fake output of 1080i for those who have a set that can't do 720p. Best of all, if your HDTV has overscan issues in 720p, there is a tool within the game that you can adjust the picture with and it'll correct the problem for you. The sheer scope of Warhawk is awesome by itself, and when you start adding all of the chaos that occurs when 32 gamers pile in, it's a beautiful sight.
Warhawk sounds about how you'd expect it to sound; loud. What's great about the game is the sheer diversity of its effects. Because you have so many different vehicles, ways to attack and fight, and weapons, you're going to hear a lot of different gunfire, engine noises, engine whining and so forth. Explosions are what sound the best in the game, as they should, and hearing them (even if you're in it) always rocks. Of course, voice chat is always active (thus the Jabra headset with the boxed/retail copy), so feel free to use a USB headset, USB microphone, or any PS3 compatible bluetooth earpiece with Warhawk - they'll all work.
Warhawk has finally arrived on the PlayStation 3, and this marks the consoles next big online game. You can purchase the game on either the PlayStation Network or pick up a boxed copy that includes a Jabra bluetooth headset. Either way you go, you can't go wrong with Warhawk. With the amount of chaos the game throws at you, the options, and the diversity in gameplay, this one's a no-brainer. Warhawk is simply the s**t - and I highly suggest you ignore any naysayer who says otherwise.
9/27/2007 Arnold Katayev