The greatest asset in Starhawk’s arsenal is that it’s capable of doing what no other shooter can. Starhawk creates a kind of chaos, unpredictability, and extraordinary spectacle that can’t exist in any other shooter. This speaks to something more important. Starhawk dares to do what many others aren’t: It subverts convention with original ideas. Starhawk is an action game that’s comfortable in its own skin and carries itself with confidence.
It doesn’t let struggles slow it down, and it makes the most of a mechanic that changes how you’ll think about shooters on large-scale and microscopic levels. It throws caution to the wind and goes all in on a risk, betting that players will be receptive to something other than what they’re used to.
It was a smart bet.
Starhawk Video Review
Starhawk is as much about strategy as it is action. The Build & Battle system plays a significant role in what you’re able to do within the confines of a third-person action game. As you acquire Rift energy, a lucrative but dangerous substance, you can call in orbital drops to change the flow of battle. In some cases, orders even affect level design. You can build walls and mount them with turrets if you’re holding out in one area, call in a supply bunker for heavy weaponry, or summon vehicles from space for usage on the ground or in the air.
This is a simple idea, and it’s not as mentally demanding as a real-time strategy title might be, but it contributes enough unexpected variables to deepen Starhawk in a major way.
The single-player campaign is, perhaps unsurprisingly, absolutely meant to prepare players for the online multiplayer. This isn’t a bad thing in terms of structure; it eases you into a system new to the shooter genre in an effective way. A mission emphasizing tanks, for instance, shows their strengths and weaknesses against various enemy types, while holding out to protect your base forces you to learn the best means of defense.
That said, there really isn’t a singular solution for any objective. Starhawk is flexible. This is where multiplayer starts bleeding into the campaign, and Starhawk is a rare example of multiplayer design benefitting single-player direction. Missions are more contained than wide-open multiplayer maps but they’re no less open to your experimentation. Yes, you’re there to learn, but it’s an explosive, entertaining class.
The podunk town of White Sands is where Graves left his bad memories.
The story is Starhawk’s deepest flaw. Even though it’s not a dealbreaker, it’s disappointing to see the debut of this sci-fi western world struggle with such potential.
As someone insecure about his past and presently seen as an inferior being, Emmett Graves is an interesting main character for Starhawk. He’s a minority, and not because of any racial classification. Graves is infected by Rift energy, the sentient substance subject to Starhawk’s space gold rush. He’s resisted its impulses but bears its glowing blue scars. In the eyes of those around him, Graves is as the same as any of the other mindless, violent “Outcasts” under its control. The most prominent of these people is Emmett’s brother Logan, a man back from the dead and leading the charge against mankind.
This societal rejection could have created some incredible conflict between the Graves boys. Emmett just doesn’t develop, and the storytelling dances around the cool world he’s part of. Some questionable writing also knocks down his personality a few pegs. During gameplay, he’s a cheesy action hero whose witless one-liners cement how aroused he is by his own violence. Meanwhile, comic book cutscenes portray a Graves unlike the one we play, not that his greed and disinterest in other people here makes him any more likable.
Predictably, Starhawk is at its best online, and this is where it outshines everything else on the PlayStation 3. This is one of the strongest, most enjoyable multiplayer options available, and once again the credit falls on the simple innovations. In the campaign, Emmett is the only man with the power to pull down pieces to help defend, or vehicles to take on the attack. In your typical match, there are 32 builders.
That’s 32 individuals who are considering their play constantly and intelligently, and 32 people who feel extremely powerful at all times. There’s nothing random about the way you play Starhawk because it’s a deliberate process. What’s more is that these 32 players are each changing the course of battle with every action, whether they’re building an impenetrable fortress or enabling other players to take a machine-gun mounted truck for a joy ride.
Up at Noon Interview: Starhawk’s a Big Risk For Dev, Sony
Starhawk disrupts multiplayer standards such as Capture the Flag, which becomes a more intense back-and-forth. No flag point looks the same because each enemy team defends it differently. If you play the role of flag capturer, you have plenty of options to get in and out, not the least of which is the Hawk ship, which makes a powerful escape vehicle in its walking tank mode (because of course you can’t fly it with the flag in tow).
This is one of the most chaotic and empowering multiplayer games on any platform. Any number of tanks, gunners, turrets, and Hawks can rip buildings to shreds or take each other down. Somebody might get the jump on you for a vicious knife kill. Maybe you’ll conquer a control point in Zones on your own without anyone knowing where you are. Eventually, you’ll unlock that new paint job for your Razorback truck, a set of pants for your online avatar, and an equippable XP bonus.
You’ll always see something on the move, a trail in the sky, a hail of bullets. There is always fire, and there is always a reason to build something. If you’re smart about it, maybe your Shield Generator will hit a Hawk or land on a man as it tears through the atmosphere and smashes into the ground.
Whatever happens in the moment-to-moment action of Starhawk, you won’t soon forget it.
This hybrid form of thinking and shooting has a layered depth that comes completely to life in multiplayer, where building a fortress to protect a flag is as fun as flying headlong into the enemy’s HQ. Combining these gameplay elements seems so obvious that, in hindsight, it’s a wonder it’s taken this long to take off.
The defining factors of Starhawk will, in all likelihood, garner a strong community to support it for years. Deservedly so: This is multiplayer at its finest, and it’s among the best you’ll find on any platform.Mitch Dyer is an Associate Editor for IGN’s Xbox 360 team. He used Warhawk as a surrogate for Star Wars: Battlefront III. Read his ramblings on Twitter for Starhawk (PS3)RatingDescriptionout of 10Click here for ratings guide6.0Presentation
Cool-looking comic book cutscenes do what they can for a limp story.8.5Graphics
There’s great visual diversity in the pretty settings plus some nice explosions and effects.8.0Sound
There’s a ton of great action sounds at any given moment and a killer soundtrack.9.5Gameplay
It’s awesome to summon structures, build bases, and go on the attack in powerful vehicles. This is a smart shooter that understands what makes games fun.9.5 Lasting Appeal
Unlockable skills and cosmetic customiztion are novelty perks to a multiplayer experience you won’t want to let go of.9.0O VERALLAmazing(out of 10)See All Starhawk (PS3) Reader ReviewsWrite Your Own Review of Starhawk (PS3)More PlayStation 3 ReviewsLatest PlayStation 3 News, Reviews, and Videos. Recommended Stories and More Hottest PlayStation 3 Reviews Starhawk Review
Most recent contributions for Starhawk: Game Details
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developed by: LightBox Interactive
Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Number of Players: 1-32
US:May 8, 2012
Australia: May 10, 2012