Warhawk review – In its twilight years…

Reviewing a game that is approaching it’s 2 year birthday is both a blessing and a burden.   It’s nice, because the game is well established, has been polished to a great extent and is generally a solid piece of software.   It’s difficult because even though those things are true, the game just feels old at this point.

There was a time when I absolutely adored this game.   I wouldn’t put it on par with my Socom addiction or my World of Warcraft addiction…  but I played it on a pretty regular basis for a few months and always had fun when I did.   The game is basically Battlefield: Modern Combat, but in the third person, in a more fictional location and with a more arcade bend to the gameplay.    And for what it is, it is done really well.   But it certainly doesn’t have the depth of a Socom, or even a Tom Clancy shooter.

The game play can be pretty frantic as you will see Warhawks fighting overhead, tanks and jeeps coming at you, missile turrets firing everywhere.  It does a great job of creating what feels like a living battlefield.   The atmosphere can suck you in.

The game is somewhat lackluster in how it controls, however.   It uses aim assist, something that I completely loathe.   Also, you either are amazing at flying the Warhawks or you are completely terrible.   Which is fine, but it makes for a pretty uneven game play experience.   The game is called Warhawk, so you expect it to be the star of the show, but their power is so great and so complex that they are a bit of a curse to the game.   Though I’m sure the more experienced pilots out there will completely disagree with me.

If you can get good with one of these suckers you will dominate newbs like me.

If you can get good with one of these suckers you will dominate newbs like me.

As a gamer I am more into the battle on the ground anyway, and that’s where the biggest issues take place.   The auto aim takes out a lot of the skill when it comes to one on one fights, and out of nowhere you can be nuked by a barrage of missiles from above.   Again, I know the game is called Warhawk, and this is to be expected, but it kills the fun for folks like me who want to infiltrate an enemy base on the ground.

But that is very personal nitpicking, and the game does a lot right.   Each map is filled with various control points that you take over that allow your team to respawn there.   Fighting over key points is where the game shines, giving focus to the very large battles.   Seeing tanks coming into your base with Warhawks overhead as you try to take them out in a turret is great, great fun.    As is sneaking into an enemy’s base that is lightly defended, blasting the unsuspecting bastard to pieces and then stealing his property.   It’s these moments in the gameplay that will keep you coming back.

Gameplay on the ground can get good and hectic.   Just hope some stick jockey flies by and takes you all out with a barrage of missiles.

Gameplay on the ground can get good and hectic. Just hope some stick jockey doesn't fly by and takes you all out with a barrage of missiles.

Or *did* keep people coming back.   Like I alluded to earlier, the game is aging, and it’s not for the better.   The number of people on the servers is dwindling.   Usually a couple hundred folks at most, sometimes less than 100 on off-peak hours.

Battlefield: Bad Company does a better job of the same type of gameplay.   Socom, even with its problems, delivers a much more focused and intense ground fighting experience.    Warhawk, for everything it did well 2 summers ago, now feels dated.   Even the visuals don’t hold up very well.   There are bland textures everywhere, and while the map layouts are still good, the geometry isn’t that strong.

Trophy hunters need not apply here either.   There are some easy ones to pick up, but there are some absolutely absurd ones that you will never, ever get.   I am all for trophies being a challenge, but making it all but impossible to get the platinum is just bad design.

As of today I can not recommend dropping the cash for this game.   When it came out, yes, it was very fun.   But its time has passed, other games take this gameplay model and do it better.   It’s not a bad game, and many patches and expansions have made it quite a solid piece of software (unlike, say, Socom: Confrontation…).   But no matter how much you polish it, the gameplay is still stale.

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