You'll be shooting, flying and building structures in the diverse action game that's Starhawk.
By CHONG JINN XIUNG
Starhawk is Sony Computer Entertainment's spiritual successor to 2007's Warhawk. This time the third-person action game takes players across the galaxy to a distant future where humans have discovered a new valuable and dangerous resource known as Rift.
The space age gold rush has caused many miners to become exposed to the Rift which has mutated them into savage creatures known as the Outcasts.
Starhawk's single-player campaign focuses on former miner turned gunslinger, Emmett Graves, who has to help solve a mining town's Outcast problem.
Not surprisingly, the campaign is light on story and heavy on action. No sooner than having figured out who's who, you will be off on a hover-bike to stave off an Outcast invasion.
A unique aspect of the game is its Build and Battle system which combines strategy with action. Once you've accumulated enough Rift energy you can call in for structures to be dropped on the battlefield.
Whether you are defending a facility, surviving waves of enemies or attacking an enemy outpost, you'll have to make best use of the buildings. They not only offer protection but can also be dropped on top of enemies to crush them.
You'll be able to build bunkers, sniper towers, launch pads and walls to defend your base. The launch pads allow you to make vehicles like the iconic Hawks which are towering mechs that can transform into fighter jets.
The controls are easy to learn so even newbies will be kicking butts in the sky and even outer space.
However, the Hawk's missiles are very weak, so much so that you absolutely must shoot down your enemies with the machine gun.
When you are not flying, you can whiz around the battlefield on a hover-bike, shoot enemies from a four-wheel drive or crush your foes with a tank.
It may sound interesting to be able to drop in buildings and fly jets but the campaign just does not provide an engaging experience because it gets repetitive after awhile.
It also gets harder during the later levels so it's still challenging although a tad boring.
Starhawk is mainly let down by the story which isn't interesting and doesn't tie in well with what you are doing in the game.
In fact, everything about the campaign feels like a tutorial to prepare you for the game's multiplayer mode.
Multiplayer mode is where Starhawk really shines, especially with its 32-player matches. Besides the standard deathmatch there's other interesting modes like Capture the Flag and Zones where players need to secure a territory.
Battles can get chaotic very quickly as every player has the ability to drop in buildings and use any of the vehicles to attack or defend.
It's up to you if you want to rain death from a Hawk, rush across the map with a hover-bike or steam roll through the enemy's defence with a tank. Vehicles are the key to winning battles and every player learns that fast.
Death in a multiplayer game is inevitable and Starhawk handles it differently. It'll send you plummeting to the battlefield again in a drop pod that you can control as you descend. If you manage to aim your pod at a camping enemy, you'll score a kill which is a really cool way to get back in action.
Starhawk tries to be different and have a bit of everything but it doesn't quite succeed in all areas.
The single-player campaign is the weakest link - it's too linear and lasts only a short five hours.
Without a doubt, you will get the most kick out of the game's multiplayer mode. Playing with other players is loads of fun because you have just about everything at your disposal to wreak havoc.
It'll have you coming back over and over again as each match will be a blast.
Pros: Engaging online multiplayer mode; numerous vehicles; unique Build and Battle system.
Cons: Short and disappointing single-player campaign.
(LightBox Interactive/SCEA Santa Monica Studios)
Third-person shooter for PlayStation3
Review unit courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment Hong Kong