We had the chance to get an in-depth update on Sony and Incog's upcoming Warhawk for the PlayStation 3 a few weeks ago up at the developer's Utah studio. With rumors swirling about the game, Sony and Incog wanted to give the press the full rundown on what's going on with the game. The big change is that Warhawk's single-player has been cut and the game is being refocused as a multiplayer-only online game. The new direction makes the game a sandbox for players to set up multiplayer matches. Is this a good idea? We clocked in some time to find out how it's shaping up.
The basics of the game are as follows: You'll get access to all the content in the game right out of the gate to set up a match. This includes 25 multiplayer maps set on five worlds, more than 20 weapons that run the gamut from pistols and rifles to laser-guided bombs, two aircraft, the warhawk and nemesis, two sets of ground troops, four ground vehicles, heavy ground turrets, and a variety of materials you can use to customize your soldier. The multiplayer mode will support up to 32 players with voice chat, and it'll feature a robust awards and ranking system that will reward you with a variety of medals, badges, and ribbons. Beyond that, the game features an on-demand split-screen mode that will let a friend hop in and out of the game. The game modes will serve up familiar experiences such as deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag, as well as something a little different--zone gameplay. The gameplay mode will require players to control areas on the map. The more areas you control, the more options are open to you in terms of resources, such as aircraft and vehicles, as well as point bonuses. Finally, the game features a unique server model that lets PS3 owners set up their PS3s to be servers that offer detailed stat tracking.
So that's the theory. How's the execution? Right now, it's OK. The action is fun and hectic, and the weapons are plentiful and deadly. The various guns, mines, and projectiles are all good stuff. The ground vehicles work nicely and support having buddies along for the ride. Stationary turrets are handy and make for some explosive mayhem that's all good. The warhawk handles much the way it has in the previous demos, and the tweaked controls help quite a bit. The various game types, especially the zone gameplay, are fun and challenging, especially when the battlefield is packed.
The change to multiplayer-only is risky, but after spending some time with the game, we'd say there's some potential there. Incog seems to have drawn inspiration from the Battlefield series and created a sexy playground for players to get their kill on, be it on foot, by ground-based vehicle, or in the air. There's a healthy amount of customization open to players, not only in how their character looks, but also in how it controls in different situations. Thankfully, the Sixaxis support is something that can be toggled on or off, so anyone who has issues with it can simply opt to not use it. We'd point out that although it's not perfect for when you're controlling vehicles, it does free you up to do more shooting, which is kind of nice. Though we're still not sold on it at the moment, due mainly to the fact that Incog is still doing some tweaking to the handling, we can appreciate the benefit and hope it gets buffed up well enough to work out.
Based on what we've played so far, Warhawk is shaping up to be a solid multiplayer experience on the PS3. We're not 100 percent sold on the multiplayer-only aspect of it, as online and LAN matches are cool but sometimes a chore to get going. That said, the action is pretty fun, and when you get a full game going, it makes for a good time. It's hard to get a better sense of the game right now, as the version we played was limited to one area, but what we played has potential. We're still stung by the lack of a single-player offline game, but if Incog didn't think they could make a compelling single-player experience, it's probably for the best, since no one wants to get stuck with a half-baked single-player experience. That said, we hope the multiplayer gets polished up some and can stand on its own. The pieces needed to make that happen seem to be coming together, so hopefully it all clicks. Look for more on Warhawk in the coming months. The game is slated to be available for the PlayStation 3 this year. Sony wasn't able to comment on whether it would be on disc or a download, as it said that how the game would be distributed was still being considered.