Forget what you know about online gaming. For the majority of us the subject of mutiplayer usually conjures up frantic images of run and gunning, crude insults and getting ones head blown off. I am speaking generally as for many folk the typical FPS is the holy grail of gaming. It does seem however that which each new incarnation the die hard fans will complain that the latest is inferior to the last and I am not surprised that the business of ranking up every year is something of a chore.
Bring in Starhawk and what is it that is different. I will still endure frantic shootouts and have my virtual head removed from a couple of clicks away but...
Aside from the hell for leather Free For All deathmatches. The thing that separates Starhawk from every other online multiplayer is the selfish co-operation system it uses. This needs a little explanation;
Each player has the same ability to build structures and vehicles as they see fit. You want to snipe - Build a watchtower. You need to get from A to B - Build a Sidewinder (speederbike). This all adds to a sense of co-operative mayhem and a kind of organised chaos. Each team member is contributing to the cause in there own way. So my Sidewinder corral is accessible for every player on my team to access and spawn a Sidewinder of their own, like wise for the Watchtower, there is a sniper rifle ready and waiting for any team-mate who climbs the ladder.
The greatest success is when you get together on the headsets and plan and plot your strategy as the battle unfolds. Tell your mates you have build an outpost on the farside of the map for sneaky troop deployment or they may not see it to take advantage.
The battles; There is no need to go hell for leather all guns blazing, unless you want to, each battle lasts for 45 minutes - YES 45 minutes, less if there is a score limit but even with a limit we are talking a good 20 - 25 mins plus.
This massive amount of time allows players to try a number of tactics and gauge the battlefield as it develops. Snipers can truly camp out and enjoy the hunt (This camping is addressed cleverly by way of a bright lazer beam emitting from the scope if a player aims for more than a few seconds, notifying enemies and making the sniper hit and run with grater frequency). Players receive XP for building and destroying structures so the great architects and military officianardos can indulge themselves in base building and strategy if the firefight is not going their way.
All of this coupled with jawdropping scenery, huge maps, transforming mechs and an epic score all amounts to something very special and a real treasure of gaming. Starhawk is here to stay and the community online is still going strong with lists of matches filled with players.
A note on the single player - It is a flat tutorial. Great to be included as as a tutorial it is really good but take it with a pinch of salt. If it were not for the campaign many would not bother with this game so it is needed but the heart and soul of Starhawk is online.