Category: Action Games
Developer – Incognito Entertainment
Publisher – Sony Computer Entertainment
Online Play (1-32 Players)
Required Hard Disk Space – 810 MB
Supported HD Output – 720p, 1080i
Playstation Network Compatible
Sony has yet to have a game that I consider must have title when considering online play. However all of that has recently changed since they released an update to their PSone title Warhawk. The recent release of the PSone successor keeps the same name, but the focus is strictly multiplayer madness. And after taking my skills online, I would have to say that the decision to make the next generation Warhawk an online only game was definitely a good one.
Warhawk is definitely no slouch in the visuals department. It seems as though Incognito definitely spent some time getting the eye candy just right. The game manages to run in both 720p and 1080i and all these different resolutions look pretty good. Of course there is a good use of special effects in Warhawk such as particle effects and lighting effects. This was evident in the weapons, explosions and in the environments themselves. Take a close look at when an enemy vehicle explodes; if you look closely enough you should see your enemy’s body cartwheel out of the explosion in a grizzly, but somewhat impressive death.
The environments are also quite well designed. Each one was lush and carried a lot of atmosphere. The shadowing that was implemented from objects (e.g. trees or taller buildings) added to the sense of realism. Something that was quite noticeable to me was the fact that the draw distance in the game was very, very long. This was quite impressive when playing 16 versus 16 player matches on the large maps. I was able to see far down the levels as my teammates engaged the enemy. The long draw distance also has its advantages for the enemy as well, as I was being sniped from what had to be halfway down the level. It is this kind of draw distance that makes the game that more impressive and makes for an even more engaging experience.
During my gameplay experiences I noticed very few, if any, graphic hiccups. If there was any, it had to be a hint of slowdown now and then, but I attribute this to the connection over the internet, not the graphics engine itself. Overall the visuals may not be the best seen on any game console to date, but Warhawk’s graphics are definitely no slouch either and they make for a better gaming experience.
The overall audio package compliments an already good game. Weapons have a distinct sound of their own making for a variety of effects in this area. I also found that the surround sound usage is quite impressive and helped me in my gaming experience. By listening to the sound of any given weapon I was able to discern what it most likely was and where it was coming from. This gave me an idea of where to go when assisting some of my teammates in their quest to stay alive. The explosions, which seem to be a staple in a game like this, were definitely well done as well and they managed to give my subwoofer a workout now and then. Finally, the soundtrack that accompanies Warhawk definitely fits in to the theme of the game. The somewhat military like soundtrack harkens to all those military movies in the past (e.g. Blackhawk Down). The music really added to the overall atmosphere of the game and helped draw me in that much more to the battles I was fighting. Overall I would have to say that Incognito managed to include all the right stuff in the sound department.
For those looking for an engaging single player experience, let me inform you that you better start looking elsewhere. Warhawk for the PS3 is a straight out multiplayer experience. There is no single player missions, no single player story to follow, nor is there any chance to take on the computer AI in the form of bots. Incognito made a conscious decision to make this update to the PSone original strictly a multiplayer game only. New to the Warhawk universe is the ability to play from the ground, using various weapons and vehicles to gain the upperhand in any match. This adds a neat hint of strategy as the game is not just about flying a Warhawk in an effort to win the battle. It takes teamplay as you define your role and assist your teammates in fighting the good fight.
As this game is strictly a multiplayer game, Sony and Incognito made sure to include the option for a lot of players. Up to 32 players can partake in multiplayer mayhem at once. Interestingly enough there is also support for more then one person on one PS3, making it a great game for you to allow guests to come over and get their online fix. There are four modes of play: deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag and node mode. The first three are self explanatory to any gamer. There is a new twist to them however and it is reminiscent of Battlefield 2 on the PC and Xbox 360. Here you can capture sub-bases and checkpoints that are scattered across the map and by doing so you allow areas for your team to spawn at as long as you control them. The fourth gameplay type, node, is what is somewhat new but can be kind of compared to Territories mode found in Halo 2. Here the goal is to capture bases and remain within the boundaries of the territory enabling it to grow in strength and power due to the length and size of your presence. You earn points for the more zones you hold and you are awarded bonus points should certain zones meet up and connect with each other. Overall all the modes are somewhat enjoyable. The team based modes are the most engaging though as battling in a team versus team game is somewhat rewarding.
Upon starting your Warhawk experience you set up your character's appearance, both for your soldier and your Warhawk. There is one of two sides you can choose from: the Eucadian or the Chernovans. The former is more set in modern day appearance and weapons while the latter is more technological and somewhat futuristic. I should note that it doesn't matter what side you choose as one does not have a specific advantage over the other. The main difference is in look and types of weapons. When you first start out on any given map you spawn on foot with only a pistol and a couple of grenades. However at each base or spawn point you will usually find a host of new weapons such as an assault rifle, sniper rifle or even a flamethrower to name a few. You will also find a wide variety of vehicles such as jeeps, tanks and even the famed Warhawk. So even though starting out seems somewhat disheartening given your initial inventory, you do get the chance to find larger and better weapons quite quickly.
As this game is a first party Sony game, Incognito has made some great attempts at mixing up the control schemes, including utilizing the Sixaxis' motion sensing abilities to control ground vehicles as well as aircraft. What really struck me was that you were not locked into controlling your vehicles using on the Sixaxis motion control as the game allowed you to turn this feature on and off at any time. For my taste I found the motion controlling abilities were a little 'soft' and they were not as responsive as I would have liked. That being said, many people that I gamed with online stated they enjoyed the motion control over straight analog and button control. So it is really a matter of taste and I highly encourage you to experiment with all forms of control to find what really suits you.
Learning the basics of Warhawk takes some time and patience. There is no in-game tutorial or training stage so you basically have to jump into the game to learn the fundamentals. There are a few in-game hints that pop up during a game, but they are minimal so the only way to really learn what to do is to experiment with the controller and your environment. This can be quite frustrating as there was a heck of a lot of people who seemed so much better then me. Now don't get me wrong here, I know that it takes time to learn the in's and out's of a game, but man was I ever on the wrong end of an online beating more then once. I truly think this game could have benefited from a training mode of some sort, or an in-game tutorial to let one learn the basics. However this is not the case at this time and it is this point alone that may scare off casual gamers. That being said, once you start to learn the game, and find a good group of online gamers, Warhawk starts to become more enjoyable in this manner and you will have some success in your efforts.
Warhawk is really tailored towards the team based modes. The regular deathmatch was somewhat boring as it really only consisted of dogfighting in the skies seeing who could blast each other out of the air first. The ground troop aspect just didn't do it for me when playing in regular non-team based deathmatch. On the other hand, when playing with up to 16 other people on one squad in a team versus team match, this is where Warhawk really shines. Having to rely on your teammates and their communication is really important. Supporting one another in an effort to make ground is really rewarding and once you win your first game while being cooperating with other players really makes you realize how fun this game is.
There are five different maps in Warhawk. Now I know that this sounds really low, and at first it does, until you realize that each map can be configured for different group sizes including small, medium and large I was somewhat doubtful about the low number of initial maps, but given that there are different configurations they do manage feel somewhat different. Trust me, once you play on a small map with a small group of people, then up the same map to a large configuration, with a large group of people, the strategy and feel is totally different making for a different experience.
Warhawk also allows for some rewards for your efforts too. Should you choose to play in the familiar world of ranked modes, you start to climb in rank. There are about 20 different ranks starting from recruit all the way up to General. Your first few promotions are relatively quick and easy, but after that it gets somewhat harder and longer for you to rank your character up. Ranking up rewards you with new costume skins for your character. For those who don’t want to play in the competitive world of ranked games, you have the option of playing in non-ranked games for a little less stressful of a gaming experience. During your career you are also awarded with medals, badges and ribbons for your efforts. These are for such simple things as finishing on the winning team or not shooting your teammates during a game. They can also get as complicated as mixing various criteria such as number of kills, capturing the flag so many times over time, defending your zone, etc. The combinations can get crazy and tough to meet.
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