These are unusual times. I’ve found a PS3 game to play and we’ve got a proper game that’s being digitally distributed. ‘Proper’ meaning not a touched up classic and not a £5 twin-stick shooter. It’s something new to console gaming and I really like it – Sony’s taken what could easily have been the next Shadowrun and done it right, making what’s probably my favourite PS3 game yet.
The Warhawk concept has been reinvented as a multiplayer-only Battlefield clone which, to be fair, is the game you want to copy if you’re making a multiplayer war game. And like Battlefield, it suffers from fairly average infantry and ground combat mechanics that are entirely forgiveable in light of some superlative aerial combat. While limiting yourself to the dogfight servers means missing out on certain dimensions of the gameplay, it’s the best way to guarantee a good game without the risk of being left behind without even a wheeled vehicle to carry you into the fray.
I inevitably gravitated towards flying the titular aircraft with sticks (I make no secret of my dislike of the ‘waggle’ fad), a setup which gives one stick to traditional flight and the other to the necessary aerobatics that make dodging and weaving between rock formations quick and intuitive. It never fails to be exciting when you have 16 wingmen flying with you towards the inevitable chaos of missiles and flak that await in the middle.
Warhawk isn’t particularly fully-featured and seems to have constant issues with connections and stats which should really be ironed out by now, but Sony has gone about it in the right way by making it £20 (or £40 on disc with a Bluetooth headset). To make the Shadowrun comparison again, that was also light on content but sold at retail for £50, and look how that turned out.
If this is a way to sidestep crippling development costs while still giving us proper next-gen games, I’m all for it. Of course I still want my big budget BioShocks and blockbusting Halos, but we can’t afford to spend £50 on every game that comes along.