Review – StarHawk


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Review – StarHawk
Can Lightbox Make You (pere)Grin(e)?
Sony Computer Entertainment
Lightbox Interactive
Release Date:
Third-Person Shooter
Age Rating:

StarHawk is a strange old bird.

On the one talon, it’s a derivative repackaging of a half-decade old PS3 launch title, its plumage but plumped with refined visuals, its wingspan tinged a fresh Tower Defence mechanic.

On the other, it is quite possibly the quintessential console multiplayer experience.

Players will flock to StarHawk’s visceral shotguns, handy jetpacks, protective auto-turrets, constructible emplacements, over-proportioned tanks and dog-fighting Hawks.
PEW! PEW PEW!Enlarge Enlarge

It may even snatch up some fresh prey in its shiny new beak, but one assumes the bulk of this extended kettle of hawks will swoop in from the five year old Warhawk servers.

Lightbox Interactive have affixed a single player campaign onto StarHawk’s tail. An afterthought in design and execution, it functions as a string of extended tutorials into the game’s myriad mechanics, which (hilariously) have minimal bearing once the uncompromising battlefields of StarHawk’s multiplayer arenas start chewing you up!

It’s also dull, boasts unskippable cutscenes and offers no real draw to pay attention, let alone revisit it once downed.
But hey, at least it’s single player!

A Co-operative mode not unlike Epic’s Horde (Seriously, did Gears of War trailblaze the players vs. waves of A.I. format) cuts the title with some diversity, encouraging friends to fly in formation against the growing cast of hawks and splashes of glowing baddies.

It’s a great blueprint, amplified by StarHawk’s currency dependent, build-whatever-whenever-wherever mechanic and an ideal solution to gamers who are (how to put this diplomatically...) basically too shit to compete against human opponents.

Unfortunately, these are friends only endeavours. Bizarrely, total strangers AKA 99% of the people you’ll be exposed to, are forbidden! What’s worse, all appearances suggest local Splitscreen now requires a net connection.
NEVER have I been so unhappy to encounter an oxymoron hard at work!

Provided your speed of the puma matches your eyes of the hawk, online competition (CTF, TDM, Zones) is an utter triumph!
Indeed, zooming over generic terrain on a hover bike, gunning down jeeps with laser beams and stampeding enemy bases in a heavily armoured tanks seem to defy the law of diminishing returns!

And though scant new additions grace the genre, the wealth of guns, gadgets and mechanized gizmos lather variety upon those instances when not crushed under a stomping transformer or hurtling toward earth in a manoeuvrable respawn pod.
Lasers: The natural enemy of Things-What-Aren't-Lasers
Lasers: The natural enemy of Things-What-Aren't-LasersEnlarge Enlarge

Lamentably, it speaks volumes of the current generation that multiplayer requires multiple servers, net connections, copies of the game and actual thumbs with humans attached to so much as get a look in. Two generations ago, this experience could be duplicated with AI. Last generation, a second controller and single friend were the only requisites for the time of your life.
StarHawk could have dove back into its heritage, prompting a change towards greater player flexibility. Instead it’s content to soar above, oblivious, loosing droppings upon this formerly sociable experience.

It’s hard to shake the feeling that it’s really Incognito, rather than Lightbox that deserve most of the credit for the success StarHawk is bound to enjoy. After all, their original devised the formula in 2007 and has thrilled ever since.

But considering this a debut effort, if not exactly visionary, Lightbox have proven themselves competent, professional and capable of augmenting an already successful formula.

7 Stars
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