Warhawk PlayStation 3
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Incognito Entertainment
Release Date: Out Now
Warhawk is one of those games that successfully fills a hole in the PlayStation 3's catalogue. The console needed a game to provide an intense online experience and Warhawk duly obliges. The game can be purchased for £19.99 if you decide to download it from the PlayStation Network or you can pick it up for a suggested retail price of £39.99. The price difference is justified by the inclusion of a headset, so deaf gamers will probably want to save themselves £20 and just download it from the PSN store. The fact that the retail package comes with a headset is telling however, as voice communications are a key part of the game.
Warhawk is a team-based online only shooter for up to thirty-two players. The battles between the two teams take place in one of five available environments (each of which can be configured in a variety of ways). There are several game variants such as Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Zones. If you've played an online shooter before the chances are you'll know what's required in these game types. Team Deathmatch is essentially an all out war with two teams battling each other. Deathmatch is everyone for themselves. Capture the Flag requires you to go to the enemy's base, capture their flag and return it to your base whilst your opponents attempt the same thing. Zones require your team to capture and maintain control of zones on the map. In most of these modes you'll want to capture bases as these enable you to have additional spawn points. These games usually play until the time limit has been reached or a score target has been attained. Your performance is tracked and you'll rank up and gain medals and other awards. The game allows a few customisation options for each game type such as the delay (in seconds) between respawning and whether you can fly with the flag in Capture the Flag mode.
Like the Battlefield games, you not only get to run around rather spacious environments, you get to drive and fly around them too. There are also a multitude of gun turrets that can be manned. The ability to go from ground warfare to air combat gives the game a special feel and essentially leads to the feeling that you can switch between the war in the skies and the war on the ground at any time of your choosing. The action has been kept simplistic and therefore accessible. There are a good variety of weapons and vehicles in the game but none are difficult to control. Warhawk does allow you to control your vehicles through the use of the motion-sensing capabilities of the Sixaxis controller. By default the motion-sensing controls are disabled, which is probably for the best as they don't feel good enough to use in a competitive online battle. Keep away from the motion -sensing controls though and everything feels fine and very natural.
Those hoping to play Warhawk offline to get some practice will be disappointed to learn that the game doesn't offer this feature. There are no AI bots here and the game is purely an online affair. Up to four players can play on the same console (in split-screen mode) for unranked games. To get you up to speed with the game you have a variety of text tip messages that offer context sensitive advice. To be honest these messages provide a very basic level of assistance and I would rather have a proper tutorial and AI bots to play against. Still this is only going to be an issue until you are comfortable with heading out online. The barebones nature of the game certainly wouldn't make for a worthwhile single-player game.
One of the first things you'll notice about Warhawk is that it doesn't look like a PlayStation 3 game. In fact the visual quality of the game is something you might have expected from an original Xbox title. To a certain degree this is understandable (after all it's a download title and you wouldn't want the download to take many hours) but in other respects it's very disappointing. Environmental damage modelling is practically none existent. Still, in the heat of a battle you're not going to be too fussed looking at the quality of the character models, vehicles or the environments. With the graphical quality being rather low it should be no surprise that the game performs very nicely maintaining a smooth and consistent frame rate throughout.
So Warhawk is an online game and communications are an important part of the game as you get to coordinate attacks with your fellow team members. The problem is that in-game communications are voice only. Deaf gamers are essentially left out in the cold as you can't text communicate during a battle. You can't even organise your clan battle plans via text before a battle, which is crazy. What makes all of this even more bizarre is that USB keyboards are supported and you can type in a message that will greet players as they join a game. If you're organizing your own game you can choose to disable voice communications which will remove any advantage a hearing gamer might have but that's not really the solution we would like to have seen. In essence then, the game isn't impossible for deaf gamers but it's certainly not ideal.
In many ways Warhawk provides PlayStation 3 gamers with an online experience that's worthy of their time. Sure, the game is simplistic but there's no denying that it provides a no-fuss online experience, with support for clans, buddy lists and leaderboards. Hearing gamers will certainly find a very enjoyable online experience here but deaf gamers are going to find it a frustrating one, unless the battles are played out with voice chat disabled to allow every to be on an equal footing. The game's developers have been working on some updates and it would certainly be most welcome if a future update was to allow the use of text communications during a battle and prior to a battle commencing.