Starhawk Beta Impressions

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The spiritual successor to the fantastic multiplayer game, Warhawk, LightBox Interactive’s Starhawk is now in private beta, so we’ve taken a look at the game to see if it can live up to its predecessor.

Starhawk looks like it is going to be structured much like Warhawk. That great server list system is back, so finding custom tailored games, and creating games with specific weapons, time constraints, and scoring is as easy as ever. The game will also have deathmatch, team deathmatch, zone capture, and capture the flag. For this beta, the only game mode available was capture the flag. There were also only two maps available, but they showed a lot more uniqueness than the maps in Warhawk – where every map was a different variation of an island surrounded by water. In Starhawk, You are still fighting on islands, but now the islands are a space station in orbit, or an industrial complex surrounded by a sea of neon-green industrial waste. In addition, the space station level had a lot of ‘verticality’ to it, with multiple levels and ladders to move around. The industrial level is a lot more laid out and is mostly a large, flat area with a few mountains. The two maps show off what combat is like in two very different types of levels, and hopefully the rest of the maps are just as good.

I Bet It Smells Lovely This Time of Year

Starhawk keeps the same rock, paper, scissors gameplay as its predecessor. Meaning that there is a right tool for the job, and using the wrong weapon will be fatal. A well placed grenade or rocket to a hawk (what used to be called Warhawks in the previous game) will easily destroy it, but taking shots at it with a machine gun will almost always fail. In Starhawk, you will need to be prepared for a fight, and be able to make quick decisions. Luckily, player movement is just as fast as the combat. So, if you feel you are in a situation that you can’t win, you can easily run around a corner or get far enough away to resupply. Strategy is key in this game, and that is only further enforced by the building system.

Proper Counter for Laser: Don't Get Hit By It

New to Starhawk is the building system. At any point in the game a player can order a building to be built within your team’s area of influence, which can also be expanded. You can build optional defense measures like walls, turrets and forcefields, but players will have to build and maintain necessary structures. Unlike in Warhawk, where everything is available to everyone, players will have to build different buildings to gain access to weapons, hawks, and jetpacks. So, taking out an enemies’ weapon supply center can cut off their access to stronger weapons and seriously cripple their ability to fight. Each team is limited to building 32 structures, so it is important to manage resources carefully.

The resource management aspect of Starhawk really enforces the team aspect of the game. Everyone on the team has their own energy bar, and it is important to communicate so if a structure needs to be built, it isn’t just one guy spending all of his energy. The energy bar is filled by killing enemies and destroying respawning energy barrels scattered throughout the level. Energy is depleted when the player dies, builds something, or when the player spawns in a vehicle, hawk, or jetpack. So, if too many people on the team decide to spawn a whole bunch of turrets that get destroyed as fast as they are built, then that will make it hard to deal with the enemy if he destroys necessary structures. Energy has to be spent wisely, and frivolously wasting energy can lead a team to failure.

Most Important Building Material: Green Goo

Warhawk wasn’t a run-and-gun type of game. A single person couldn’t rush out like Rambo and take down a couple dozen guys [Ed- I could]. Teamwork was key, and anyone who rushed into battle too hastily was sure to end up staring at the respawn screen for most of the match. Starhawk builds upon this theme by incorporating the building system. In a way, LightBox Interactive have made the game a lot closer to Fat Princess – a team with dedicated resource gatherers, and who use orchestrated attacks on the enemy will win every time over the team that just runs around trying to kill anything that moves.