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Starhawk preview: Fast-action kill fest arrives on May 8

Starhawk, Sony’s new third-person sci-fi shooter game that debuts on May 8, is a frenetic action game that requires you to be a good shot and a big-picture strategist at the same time. The company released more screenshots and videos today to get gamers stoked about the major release on the PlayStation 3 game console.

The game is a spiritual successor to Warhawk, a PS 3 multiplayer-only combat game that came out in 2007. That game let you fight in the air, on the ground, in vehicles, and on ships. But Starhawk features multiplayer, a single-player campaign, and cooperative play as well. It is set in a sci-fi universe where you drop into a battlefield from orbit and start doing your worst in a pitched battle for control of resources and bases.

I played a cooperative mission during a live demo at the Game Developers Conference. You can play with three bots or three human players. The multiplayer beta has been live since February, but Sony has been revealing more details about the game in recent days.

The developer is LightBox Interactive; Dylan Jobe, the company’s chief executive just talked about putting the finishing touches on the game in an interview with the PlayStation blog. He said there are seven new multiplayer maps coming that no one has seen before and that the team brought back arcade flight mode from Warhawk due to fan demand. And yes, he really did say “unknown unknowns” in that interview.

In the coop mode, I had to defend a base from enemy attack along with one other defender. To spawn, I came down in a pod and smashed into the ground. (If I landed near enemies, I would have taken them out). I had to look around for a glowing green tower that gave me energy when I stood near it. The more Rift energy you collect, the more you can shop for extras that will help you fend off attackers.

We started out with credits and spent them building structures that we could plant on the perimeter of the base. The offensive and defensive structures can be ordered on-demand from an orbiting drop ship that literally drops them onto the battlefield.

I had to get a supply bunker, which has ammo and grenades as well as weapons such as assault guns, rocket launchers, or shotguns. Then I was able to build a structure that could make a mech (like the one pictured at top). Once built, it drops a new mech in if you have enough rift energy to build it. Then you can go stomping around on enemy infantry while shooting in all directions. The aim system is pretty forgiving, and it isn’t too hard to hit targets that are far away. Clearly, if you have the right build strategy, you can win the battle more easily.

You can also get in a Razorback, a vehicle that resembles a dune buggy that can run over or shoot your enemies. (It’s like the Warthog in Halo). I also tried out a jet pack that let me fly around. You can buy gun turrets to stop enemies trying to take down your base, and you can create walls and a shield generator. You want to keep your base functional so you can keep getting energy. You can also leave the base and pick up barrels of energy spread across the map. If you’re playing with a seasoned coop partner, you could have them do this.


There are different controls for characters, vehicles, and aircraft that you have to master in order to get good at the game. It would be wise to do that in the single-player campaign before you venture out onto multiplayer turf.

Overall, I thought the game play was fun, but the graphics weren’t really up to par. It seemed as if very little had changed with respect to the quality of the graphics since Warhawk came out. Sure, it looks good, but it hasn’t climbed a trajectory in the same way that the Uncharted games have done. If you like action and don’t care so much about photorealistic graphics, this may be your game.


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