What do you think of when it comes to third-person shooter video games? I, personally, jump immediately to the SOCOM series, developed by Zipper Interactive (now defunct). It had real-time strategy in the form of tactical commands, and was a PlayStation exclusive series. Then I played Starhawk.
Starhawk didn’t immediately seem like it was going to be all that exciting. I hadn’t enjoyed SOCOM 4 all that much (though I did enjoy Zipper Interactive’s MAG), so I didn’t initially go into Starhawk with high hopes, or even high expectations. That all changed when I first booted up the game on my PS3.
Starhawk completely changed my view of the third-person shooter genre. It is the spiritual successor to Warhawk and although both of these games were developed by SCE Santa Monica Studios, they both had separate secondary developers. It has similar feel in combat and gameplay to its predecessor, but the big difference between the two is strategy, and not to mention the addition of a single player campaign to indulge the lone wolf gamer. Starhawk developers have attempted (and relatively successfully so) to create an addictive game that would entice all kinds of gamers. They used their best and brightest to envelop the player into a fun-as-hell experience that no gamer would soon forget.
Starhawk does feature a single player campaign, however, this mode is short lived, and relatively forgettable. Though it is fun to blow up AI opponents, it is not nearly as satisfying as doing the same to an enemy with a real-life person behind the controls. The story itself fell a bit short, with the characters not feeling very authentic or believable. The single player campaign is definitely not where Starhawk shines, but the multiplayer mode is so satisfying that it hardly matters.
While Starhawk’s single player was nothing to brag about, the online multiplayer most certainly is. I have enjoyed every second of the game’s multiplayer, and could find few-to-no faults in the immersive experience that every PlayStation fan must enjoy. You run around with a variety of weaponry and choices that mix up the gameplay, no matter how many matches you’ve played.
The best part (by far) is the new “Build n’ Battle” system. Your character is equipped with rift energy, which when sufficient amounts of energy have been collected it allows the player to call in special orbital drops. These drops can completely change the flow of battle. These can be weaponry-mountable walls, supply-heavy bunkers, or even high-powered and fully equipped vehicles.
This is where real-time strategy comes into play. The more thought you put into where and what you call in or build, the better or worse the outcome of the match may be. Simply calling in a vehicle for the shallow sake of calling in a vehicle won’t help you or your team all that much. The player is rewarded for using his or her intelligence to make informed and strategic decisions and change the flow of the gameplay. Starhawk supports 32 player matches, but size barely matters. There is also split-screen and co-op featured within the game, but the multiplayer is the holy grail of the Starhawk experience.
While Starhawk does have its faults (particularly in the single player campaign), the multiplayer is deep, fun, decisive, and completely innovative. I don’t think I’ve had a much better multiplayer experience in a long time. Starhawk has redefined the third-person shooter genre with intelligent strategy. I credit it with nothing less than successfully shoving itself back into the world of multiplayer gaming. It is arguably the best multiplayer experience the PlayStation 3 has to offer so far in 2012.