Warhawk Review

If you didn't know any better, Warhawk would sound a lot like an online shooter for the PC. Warhawk gives you large battle maps, several game modes, and the ability to fight as a soldier or to hop behind the controls of a vehicle or aircraft. Although the game is not very noob-friendly and completely lacks an offline mode, the game has a lot going for it and provides plenty of exciting multiplayer action.

The story behind Warhawk is that ... well, I have no idea what the story is. Basically the red and blue teams hate each other and each wants the other dead. The game never bothers with a story or any related trappings such as cutscenes or character dialog. The first time you play the game you'll probably be surprised at the minimalist approach it takes. You're taken straight to the main menu which basically gives you the option to play online or locally and that's about it. But after all, you don't play shooters for the cutscenes.

I should first let you know a bit more about the option to play the game locally so you don't mistakenly buy this game without the intention of taking it online. The local option is basically split screen multiplayer gaming. If that's all that interests you then you're better off picking up another shooter that gives you a full single player campaign as well. There is no single player game in Warhawk, and the game does not support AI bots to let you simulate the online experience by yourself. There's not even a training mode in the game to familiarize you with the gameplay, weapons, or vehicles. The only way to learn the game is to jump right in and spend some time running around like an idiot to the annoyance of your teammates.

Once you get passed the initial learning phase you'll begin to appreciate how much fun Warhawk can be. Games can support up to 32 players and if you have fewer than that number the maps all have scaled down versions to prevent a lot of wasted time running around empty maps looking for another player. You'll spawn into the game as a dangerously under-armed foot soldier, but you have plenty of options to quickly increase your lethality. You'll be able to jump into a variety of vehicles from jeeps to tanks, and some support multiple stations. You can have one person firing the tank's cannon while another mans the machine gun, for example. You can also take to the skies in the game's namesake, the Warhawk. This is an aircraft that is a pretty cool hybrid between a fighter jet and an attack chopper that can be flown using the Sixaxis' tilt feature if you'd like. I couldn't quite get to the point where I felt comfortable using the tilt feature in the heat of battle, though.

You don't need to hop into a vehicle to improve your firepower. The game places weapons around the maps as power-up pick-ups, giving the lowly foot soldier access to sniper rifles, rocket launchers, bombs, and more. In fact, no matter which role you take you can make an impact on the battlefield. Tanks are pretty powerful but are vulnerable to air attack. Warhawks can be taken down by deadly anti-aircraft missiles. Soldiers can pick enemies off at great distances with a sniper rifle or give a tank some trouble with a missile launcher. The key to success is not being the first to grab a Warhawk, but rather in coordinating a balanced attack with your team. As an aid to communications, the retail version of Warhawk (you can also download the game directly to your PS3) comes with a Bluetooth headset that not only works quite well but is nice and light and stays comfortable during extended play sessions. My only complaint about it is that it needs to be plugged in to your PS3 and the system needs to be left on to charge it.