Release Date: November 2006
One of the more interesting titles coming to the PS3 is the sequel to Warhawk, a simplistic air combat title made for the original PS1. This was probably one of the games I most looked forward to at E3 2005, and at E3 2006, Sony finally showcased an early playable build. The game will consist of 60% air combat and 40% ground combat, and although the demo did not show land combat, it should make an appearance in the final version.
If you are new to Warhawk, a Warhawk is a plane/helicopter combination, reminiscent of a Harrier used by military branches around the world. This allows for easy takeoff and control of the plane. With the helicopter functions, you can land on platforms to take on land combat, but while in the air, it controls like any other arcade flight game. One planned feature is that when landing and going into land battles, you can simply call your co-pilot at any landing zone to get back into the Warhawk to resume air-to-air or air-to-ground battles.
Even in the absence of the land combat portion, Warhawk had a pretty fun multiplayer mode. Utilizing the new controller's motion sensors to move the plane was entertaining, especially while watching others swing around the controller wildly as they got used to the sensitive controls. (It's actually a lot more difficult than it seems.) I flew through tunnels, arches, and just did as many moves as I could to avoid getting shot down by another player.
The playable build had not implemented crash animations yet, so it was quite odd to see the vessel bounce off a hill and remain unscathed. Crash animations will be employed in the final release, although the title will allow for "some" minor bumps without catastrophic results. The main point here is to fly the Warhawk, and in this way, you are able to do so without the pesky annoyances of walls.
Another component of the game is the ability to upgrade your Warhawk with better weapons and items. The aircraft we flew was very stripped-down and had very basic weaponry, so we were unable to see the list of nine or more weapons that may be available. One weapon that was really interesting was the bug zapper, perhaps the only weapon that really stood out because the rest were similar to other weapons found in other games. It basically shot out an arc of electricity to disable the enemy plane, which would usually destroy it and introduce it to gravity. You can also charge up the zapper so it can provide a more powerful effect against larger targets.
In Warhawk, you're not restricted to following episodic levels, so you are free to roam the entire world via air, but you can't land just anywhere. For instance, you can't touch down at landing zones that are currently occupied by enemy forces, so this is one way in which locations are "locked." You can select missions as you encounter them, so that gives you a certain level of control over what you want to do, but go too deep into enemy territory, and you might find yourself in a difficult situation facing enemies that you can't handle.
Warhawk is still in the early stages of development, so it's difficult to tell how the rest of the game will shape up. From what we've seen, the multiplayer mode is enjoyable and the gameplay looks promising. It'll be interesting to see how the land combat portion adds to the experience, but at this point, Warhawk has the potential to be an entertaining action/flight title for the PS3.
Ricardo Chimal also contributed to this preview.
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