TGS 06: Warhawk Multiplayer Hands-On

We check out the latest playable version of Warhawk alongside around 15 other Tokyo Game Show attendees.

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TOKYO--Although the vast majority of games at the Tokyo Game Show are out on the floor in view of everybody, there are some that, for various reasons, can be played only inside specially constructed rooms--generally with a long line of people around their perimeters. One such game at this year's show is Warhawk for the PlayStation 3, which is being shown inside what looks like a bunker constructed of corrugated iron. After standing in line for around 20 minutes or so, we were invited into a "briefing room," where we were able to take a look at a large map of the symmetrical multiplayer level that we were about to play on, as well as check out a video detailing some of the game's controls.

The multiplayer game that we played supported 16 players, though only 10 of those were actually in the TGS bunker--the remaining six players were presumably testers back at Sony headquarters. We were divided into red and blue teams on a map that comprised two identical islands joined by two bridges. Each team started at a base on one of the islands where, in addition to hoverjet vehicles that we got our hands on at the Electronic Entertainment Expo earlier this year, we found tanks, jeeps, and numerous different weapons for use on foot. That's right, folks, there's a lot more to Warhawk than just flying around using the PS3 controller's tilt functionality.

With that said, the first thing that everybody did when our multiplayer match got under way was make a mad E3-I-must-see-Zelda-style dash for the hoverjets parked at each base. We're pleased to report that the handling of the craft was even easier to get to grips with than it was at the aforementioned convention earlier this year, and we had no trouble landing it after we'd shot down a couple of enemies (using homing rockets mostly) so that we could check out what the game feels like on land.

The first thing that we did, after realizing that we'd landed in the middle of the enemy base rather than our own, was to run around and collect as many weapons as we could find. All of the different weapon pickups in the game are outlined in another color so that they're easy to spot from a distance; within moments we'd added grenades, mines, a machine gun, a flamethrower, and a rocket launcher to the pistol and the knife that we started with. Weapon selection is handled via the directional pad, and it appears that you'll be able to carry a maximum of eight different arms at any one time.

Although many of the other players on the battlefield were busy test-driving the various vehicles at this point, we found that we were able to be surprisingly effective on foot once we equipped the rocket launcher. We were able to take out a tank solo simply by moving into cover behind walls and such after each of the four rockets that it took to destroy it, and even the hoverjets dogfighting above us weren't particularly safe once we figured out how to lock our rockets onto them. That's not to say that the rocket launcher is overpowered, mind you, the hoverjet pilots were able to avoid our projectiles at least 50 percent of the time, and the driver of the tank that we destroyed...well, he probably thought that he was near-invincible going up against a guy on foot, because he made no effort to move after we hit him the first time--he just sat there and took potshots at us as we moved in and out of cover. The few times that we did die, it was after being hit by just a single rocket fired from a hoverjet, a tank, or an enemy on foot with the same penchant for heavy weapons as us.

The most interesting vehicle that we saw in Warhawk was the jeep. Actually, that's a lie, because none of our colleagues seemed eager to share the ride with us. When we saw the jeep in action during the instructional video, though, we learned that in addition to the driver it has room for players riding shotgun and manning a turret-mounted machine gun in the back. This is nothing new, of course, but it promises to be a great addition to the online battlefield nonetheless.

When our time with Warhawk came to an end, we were pleased to see that our team had scored the most kills by a quite considerable margin. We've really no idea whether or not there was some other objective that we were supposed to be completing, but we suspect that this was simply a team deathmatch. In case you haven't guessed already, we really enjoyed our time with Warhawk (more than we expected to, given its showing at E3), and although it's far from the most impressive game that we've seen on Sony's upcoming console in terms of eye candy, we reckon this is one that you'll definitely want to keep an eye on going forward.

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