December 14, 2011, 12:00

2012 Most Anticipated – #12 Starhawk

By Harry Bandell, Contributor

Editor’s Note: We’re now over half way, with this being number twelve of our twenty-five most anticipated games of 2012. After culminating a comprehensive list of the confirmed games for next year, the MediaKick team voted on the games they are most looking forward to for next year, and after processing the results through a methodical algorithm we’re here to bring you the results. Taking a closer look at both what we know so far and why the team are excited for each game, we’ll have an article at midday everyday until Christmas – when we’ll reveal our most anticipated game of 2012. Be sure to check out the previous games so far if you haven’t already – #25, #24, #23, #22, #21, #20, #19, #18, #17, #16, #15, #14, #13.

Back in 2007, the third-person shooter/flight combat game Warhawk (a remake of the 1995 futuristic flight game of the same name) showed people what the PlayStation 3 was capable of from an online multiplayer perspective: bundled with Jabra headsets, reasonably priced and with thirty-two-player match capabilities this launch title was both a huge success and an incredibly well-balanced and addictive experience. It was one of a few games that truly justified the purchase of the console for me, and having once again picked up a copy it still provides me with entertainment value more than most games this generation have.

2012 Most Anticipated   #12 Starhawk

That said, one thing that was really missing from the package was variance. The obvious critique is squared at the game’s lack of a single player component: the multiplayer has various game modes – and plenty of servers are still left for most of them – but the game is solely an online experience (brief tacked-on gameplay tutorial aside). There’s potential in Warhawk for a campaign to be implemented. Potential in the package is something that Rob has noticed too:

“Well Warhawk was fun, but its potential wasn’t completely realised. So the chance to revisit the skies coupled with the additional single player and on foot portions has me sold.”

DLC packs tamely rustled up the gameplay experience, introducing diverse new maps and a few new vehicles that allowed for different ways to attack and defend but Warhawk showed potential in expansiveness: enter the highly anticipated semi-sequel Starhawk. Davs was not a big fan of Warhawk but there’s a few changes to the formula that have piqued his interest:

“I really didn’t get on with Warhawk. I rented it from LoveFilm and tried to enjoy it, after all, I’d heard many great things about it, but it never took. Therefore news of a sequel was something that didn’t initially interest me in the slightest. Upon first sight it immediately peaked though – a beautifully looking game it certainly is, with a gorgeous style to boot. The introduction of the building mechanic is very ambitious but it’s pleasing to see developers trying new things. Having had a go at EGX this year, however, and my mind was made up, this is going to be hell of a shooter, and I for one, cannot wait.”

2012 Most Anticipated   #12 Starhawk

As Davs points out, there is a new building system which plays a big part in the brand new campaign mode. There’s a story to boot that will give a backdrop to the new abilities you’ve been given; the new ‘Build ‘n’ Battle’ system is something fresh for the series and the new abilities it brings that reshape the way you play the game, as you build armouries and the like while in the midst of battle.

One other new feature that has people excited about – aside from the extra Horde-like game mode Outcast – is the addition of transforming Hawks. This certainly sounds like the game’s awesome little number that will be showcased in trailers and the like and the feature has Phil excited:

“Warhawk was a strange game. The hawks were fantastic, but things like the ground combat and indeed the setting kind of held it back from being a stand-out title for me, but the potential was always apparent. Enter Dylan Jobe and co. at Lightbox, with assistance from Sony Santa Monica, and you get an experienced team, one familiar with the franchise having worked on it, throw in the awesome build and battle gameplay element, a more sci-fi setting,a single player and God-damn transforming freaking Hawks, and you what you get? A beastly recipe for success. Bring it on!”

As Phil rightly points out, there’s experience within the development team and they’re working on a project that they are comfortably familiar with now – Incognito fell but Dylan Jobe took most of the team and formed Lightbox Interactive, who have taken over the Warhawk maintenance responsibilities.

2012 Most Anticipated   #12 Starhawk

‘Warhawk in Space!’ is probably enough to sell the game to some people but it’s reassuring to know that a confident experienced team is behind the production of this sequel, because there will be some sceptics. Ryan is not one of them but he is perhaps a little more reserved with his excitement:

“I managed to get some hands on time with Starhawk at EGX this year and, for the most part, it was pretty good. The shooting was solid and the build ‘n’ battle system was fantastic. Having only played a little of its prequel, I can’t really say whether I liked it or not but if what I played is a sign of things to come, chalk up one sale for the guys at Lightbox.”

We’ll see if he keeps his word and picks the game up when it is released next year. It’ll be hard not to, given how the game is looking via the few trailers we’ve seen already – including the opening cinematic. I don’t doubt that Lightbox will find their efforts well received – they are listening to the fans and players to bring up the best game they can, and with the game now firmly in beta they can get a good idea of what needs tweaking in time for release – and I’d say it’s safe to say that the sequel development is in good hands.