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E3 11; Hands-on impressions with Starhawk’s multiplayer

Submitted by on Thursday, 9 June 2011One Comment

Starhawk, the spiritual successor the spiritual successor to LightBox Interactive’s Warhawk, has already garnered a great amount of attention from the gaming community, and for good reason.

Using the new Build & Battle mechanic, Starhawk lets players build fortresses, weapons, vehicles, and other structures with the push of a button, whenever and wherever they want. Blending elements of RTS with third person shooter, the game will be something both new and familiar to Warhawk fans.

PS3 Attitude got some hands-on time with one of Starhawk’s multiplayer modes, a variation of capture the flag, at Sony’s press conference event. How does the game shape up so far, and more importantly, did we capture the enemy’s flag?

In Starhawk’s  Capture the Flag mode, the object remains the same as it always has been; retrieve the opposing team’s flag and return to your base (without getting killed) to score a point. The team with the most points by the end of the time limit wins. Sounds simple, right?

If you’re the type who just makes a straight bee line to the enemy’s base, you’re in for a rude awakening. These maps can be huge, taking you minutes to traverse the rocky terrain on foot. Your best bet is to stock up on rift energy so you can start building. Rift energy can be collected by defeating enemies or by even just staying close to your home base. Once you’ve gathered enough, the first thing you may want to build is a buggy.

Since walking to the enemy base isn’t really an option, it’s best to have a dropship send down a buggy or a transforming mech. The buggy only costs three bars of rift energy while the mech costs eight so you have to decide if you want to go with the cheaper option or save up your energy and go with something with a bit more firepower.

What’s cool with the buggy is that it’s built for three people. Two can ride shotgun while one person can take control of the machine gun on back. Unfortunately you can’t drive and shoot at the same time so you’re going to want to find a teammate before charging into battle.

The flying mech handles a little differently. You can either walk across the land or change into a jetfighter with the push of a button. The jetfighter is perfect for getting to the enemy’s base quickly, taking the flag, and then hurrying back to score a point. Unfortunately I was only able to witness this technique from the losing side. If your jet gets destroyed you don’t have to rebuild another structure to get a new one. You can always return to the one you previously built and have a new one dropped in for a cheaper price.

While it’s great to have a good offense, it’s equally important to have a good defense as well. You won’t be able to score a point if your team’s flag has been captured as it must be at your base for it to count. In addition to vehicles, you can build walls, turrets, anti-air lasers and other structures to fortify your base from incoming attack.

Working together as a team to both attack your enemy’s base and protect your own is vital if you want to taste the sweet nectar of victory. The new Build & Battle mechanic works wonderfully. You’ll know exactly where your building will land and if you can time it right, you can make it crush your enemy too.

The only complaint so far about the game is that walking/running feels somewhat pointless. It takes far too long to travel across the map. I would like to remind you though that this is only based off a single map in one multiplayer event. I imagine there are some smaller maps and that the single player campaign will most likely handle a lot differently.

Starhawk so far is shaping up to being a fantastic experience. Whether you like to charge into your opponents base on land, fly around in the air taking out enemies from above, or fortify your base via the new Build & Battle mechanic, there’s something in the game for everyone.