Sept 5, 2007
Two E3s ago, when we got our first real look at Warhawk, it was intended to be an earth-shattering launch title for the PS3. Featuring a persistent, constantly ongoing war spread across a fully explorable landscape, it was going to be Grand Theft Auto in a futuristic warzone, with players able to jump into any vehicle, take on missions and fight however they saw fit. Somewhere along the way, though, it was decided that those grandiose visions wouldn't really work. In fact, any sort of single-player mode was scrapped, and Warhawk was turned into what's essentially a slick-looking, futuristic take on Battlefield 1942. And although we'll miss the rich potential we were once promised, we're pretty happy with the results.
Warhawk doesn't really break much new ground (especially not if you've played any of the Battlefield or Tribes games), but as a pure multiplayer experience, it's unrivaled on the PS3. What you've got is basically a huge, detailed playground - five of them, actually, each with five to seven different layouts - for up to 32 players to go nuts in at once. There's all kinds of interesting terrain to explore, and each map is packed to the gills with weapons to shoot, vehicles to drive, bases to capture and devastating turrets to man. Most of the time there's plenty for everyone, so you'll rarely be tempted to, say, frag a teammate in order to get to the nearest plane before he does. Hell, there's even a planes-only Dogfight mode, if that's what you're after.
Be warned, though: Warhawk is multiplayer-only. There are no bots, tutorials or single-player missions to help you learn the ropes. You can start a LAN game by yourself if you just want to explore the massive environments or get the hang of the vehicles, but you won't get any action without other players - and while up to four players can jump in with a split-screen local game, the real fight is online.
Specifically, the real fight is trying to find a server online that isn't full - be ready to start each session with a lot of frustrating rejection messages, unless you want to set up your own game (which is pretty easy, with players able to choose from five different game modes and customize the match settings to their liking). That goes double if you're trying to play on a ranked server, which is necessary if you want to start unlocking new outfits and camo schemes to customize your on-foot avatar and the planes he jumps into. Once you've found a decent game to join, though, the frustration fades away pretty quickly.