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Starhawk review

On May 11, 2012 by Aaron Meehan

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Developer: LightBox Interactive

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Genre: Shooter

Rating: 16

Platform: PlayStation 3

Release date: Out now

Starhawk is a game where rift mining has become the biggest drawing force for humanity, but there are those who don’t want humanity mining the rifts and so begins a battle between Outcasts and the Rifters and one family who have been thrown into the centre of the fighting.

Starhawk’s story is based in the far future where humanity has colonized other worlds. A new type of energy is used called rift energy and is mined by humans on the planets that they have colonized, but the rift energy has transformed some miners into mutated creatures called Outcasts and they are killing those who harvest rift energy.

In the game you play as Emmett Graves a former rift miner (rifter) who worked with his brother on their own rift mine, but one day they were attacked by the outcasts. During the attack both were infected with rift energy and while Emmett’s brother was taken away Emmett was saved by their technical engineer Sydney Cutter. After this event Emmet and Sydney work together on defending frontier rift mines from Outcasts.

The game takes place primarily on the Moon of Dust and in space. Throughout the game you learn more about Emmett’s brother, White Sands a colony on the moon of Dust, rift energy and more.

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Gameplay wise Starhawk feels like a mix between tower defence, shooter and vehicle/air combat. You would think that having these three elements in the one game would make it a bit flimsy, but it works out rather well as each one complements the other for example to be able to drop the tower defence style objects you need rift energy which is gained by killing enemies and when you kill them you can then put down objects, after you put down these objects in certain situations you can use a hawk which is a flying or ground combat mech. Weapon availability wise Starhawk doesn’t cut corners here as you can have up to 8 different weapons at once.

The tower defence portion of Starhawk is one of the biggest selling points for the game in my opinion and it is pretty fun to use. The objects you can drop include walls for cover, turrets, barracks which come with weapons and ammo and more. The majority of the objects can be used at any time apart from some situational objects. I found the tower defence part makes the game a bit easy especially when you are defend an area because you are told what enemies will be coming and when, so you have time to place objects if you have enough rift energy. There were several points in the game when I could pretty much stand back and let my turrets do all the killing for me which is fun, but a tad annoying.

Ground combat sees you working with a tower defence and shooter approach because in most cases you know the enemy and what type of enemy (ground, air or vehicle) is coming in a certain amount of time so you will want to get ready. There are sections which take away your drop ability which is a tad annoying because you get used to dropping turrets etc.

Air/space combat is different because you have no tower defence aspect to micromanage you just have your hawk. Your weapons are a machinegun and several projectile weapons which you can pick up around the map. The projectile weapons have a lock on function, but they do feel weak and so using the machinegun is a good approach to killing the enemies. The combat portion feels nice and smooth as you have to flip or barrel roll out the way of enemy attacks or if you they have missiles lock you can use flares to avoid them, luckily flares recharge over time because they can lock onto you good few times. Without the tower defence element air combat can be difficult and takes patience because the enemy AI doesn’t make it easy for you.

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Multiplayer in Starhawk feels a bit lacking. The multiplayer consists of two sides the outcasts and rifters. There is only four game modes capture the flag, zone, team deathmatch and deathmatch. All of these modes are self explanatory apart from zone which is a capture and hold style game where you have to capture and hold rifts to score points and the team with the most points wins the match.

The multiplayer has a levelling system which unlocks items that can be used to customize your character. The character customization allows you to alter the appearance of your character, vehicles and your decal for both factions unlock different customizable options.

Levelling also grants you one skill point per level. These skill points can be used to unlock skills that can help you in matches. There is a twist to the skill system though. While skills are unlocked by points you also complete certain task for example the skill Quick Learner requires you to have 2 skill points and win three matches in a row to unlock.

The multiplayer in the game feels like a bit of a mess and isn’t overly fun in my opinion. Combat in matches seem to centre around one area and whoever has the most hawk’s and turrets dropped will most likely win.

The controls for Starhawk are quite easy to use and if you have played shooters on the PlayStation 3 before you will nearly instantly be able to pick up and play the game.
The only issue with the controls I found was with the item drop selection as I found myself accidently picking the wrong object to drop several times because I would move the left analog stick just a bit too far up or something like that and it was a tad frustrating. Apart from this the controls for Starhawk are pretty solid.

Starhawk’s graphics is pretty average for a PS3 exclusive. The art style for the game is part way between photorealistic and cartoony. Objects like the Hawk and standing buildings are well textured and there were no noticeable slow loading textures.

Overall Starhawk is a great game. The campaign mode is fun and entertaining, but it does have its issues. The multiplayer side of the game isn’t that great as combat seems to always fall into one area and most matches end up been won with the team with the most vehicles.

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SCORE: 70%

Pros:

+Comic book style cutscenes.
+Aerial combat is fun and challenging.
+Easy to pick up and play, but difficult to master.
+Campaign mode is entertaining

Cons:

-Not much strategy needed when dropping down objects to help you during the single player campaign.
-An over reliance on the tower defence style drops you can drop down.
-The story feels a bit weak.
-Multiplayer feels like a bit of a letdown with a poor skill points system and lack of game modes.

Author: Aaron Meehan

Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.


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