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PS3 Attitude

Monday, 3 September 2007

Warhawk; first impressions


So, I've been playing Warhawk on and off since it came to the PS3 in Europe last week. Whilst I largely stay away from writing long, drawn-out game reviews on PS3 Attitude, I thought I'd pop down a few thoughts for you all.

And if Incognito get to read this, please consider this a 'beta test' report as there are some things that need dealing with...

First and foremost I think Warhawk is one of the most accomplished multiplayer experiences I've ever come across. The game is truly brilliant. I've played with and without the motion sensing on, and both the SixAxis tilt controls and the analogue sticks do a great job. Control of the aircraft is more intuitive using motion control, but ground vehicles suffer slightly and are better controlled by the stick.

Consequently, I end up using the analogue sticks as it's fun switching between modes of transport.

Everything about the gameplay is great. The 'sandbox' style environment that lets you decide how to go to battle is welcome. The feeling of teamwork in a lot of the games I've played is excellent. Stand in front of a jeep or tank and, most of the time, the player will stop so you can hop on and go to battle together. Some of the time they'll run you over, of course!

So where could it be better? Here's the 'beta test' bit, and I'm surprised these didn't get caught and fixed in the real beta programme.

It takes ages to get in to a ranked game. There just aren't enough Sony servers and when you try to join one that says it has 19 players out of 24, by the time the game has tried to join the server that game is full. The timeout setting means you have to wait a minute between trying other servers.

And because of the distributed game server system allows every PS3 to become a host, it takes ages (even with filters) to refresh the list each time. I see, on average, over 450 servers in the game list in Europe alone. I filter them by ping time to cut them back to only the servers that seem live, but even that results in a big list.

No one, in my opinion, has matched the ease of the Resistance multiplayer system. They make it so easy. Choose your type of game, wait whilst the PS3 wastes a bit of time with some nonsense graphics, and then a game is chosen for you and you join it automatically. Bliss.

Why Warhawk and others can't copy this approach, even with distributed servers, is beyond me.

Also, because the servers can be hosted by a person, they can kick you off if you shoot them down and they don't like it! Or they can quit the game entirely and leave you without a resolution to the match you were playing. I know that is going to be a gripe of any 'local server' setup, but maybe Incognito could penalise people for quitting their server mid game just because they don't like the way it's going.

My final grip is the Clan system. Instead of selecting my buddies from my Friends list and simply clicking an 'invite to clan' button, it seems the only way to get people to join my clan is to go to the Community menu, then the Clan menu, then the My Clan menu, then the Admin menu and finally type (yes type) the exact PSN ID of the people I want to join, case sensitive.

Ridiculous.

If they fix the server issues by adding more hardware, sort out a 'quick join' option to jump into a game (Resistance style), penalise people for quitting their servers mid-game and make inviting your friends to your clan quick and easy, it would make this the most complete multiplayer title on the PS3 by some distance.

Fix these issues Incognito and you're on to a complete winner.

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