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Platform: PlayStation 3
Genre: Flight Action
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Incogito
ETA: November 17, 2006

 

 

 

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Warhawk

Hands-on

 

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Warhawk was high on my list of games to get my hands on at this year’s E3.  The original game was one of my favorite early PS1 titles, and all the screenshots leading up to E3 simply looked awesome.  Then, sadly, the demo of the game’s new motion-sensitive control scheme at the Sony press conference made the game’s controls look jerky and clumsy.  I was happy to see Warhawk was available for demo at the show as I had to try the controls for myself (if only to see if there was a option to opt-out of the motion-based control scheme) and, after a short wait in line, I was able to spend some time playing through the demo levels.  All-in-all, I spent about 45 minutes hands-on with the game in three play sessions.  My impressions are below.

 

First, the graphics:  the game wasn’t the most polished of the demos on-hand, but Warhawk looks great for an early build.  The textures aren’t amazingly realistic and the game doesn’t look as good as it did in the early concept builds, but the action is smooth and fast no matter how many enemies are on-screen (and this often means dozens upon dozens).  The ship itself is well-designed and gorgeously rendered.  Given how amazing some of the other demos at the show looked, I can’t imagine Incognito won’t get the environments whipped into shape by launch.

 

The controls have, obviously, been a huge focus of the Warhawk discussion.  Nintendo fanboys could be heard whining about how Sony had stolen idea of motion-sensitive controls from Nintendo.  To that accusation, I throw out a big “who cares?”  The real question I had for the new PS3 controller was “does it work?” (the same question I had for the revolutionary new Wii controllers coincidently).  In the case of Warhawk, the answer is a clear “yes.”

 

Much like using the Wii controller for the sports titles, flying the aircraft in Warhawk with the tilt-sensitive controller was simple and intuitive.  Seconds into the demo, I was zipping through 

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canyons and assaulting various enemies with ease.  The controllers at the show were set on pretty low sensitivity, so it was necessary to really tilt the controller to get the ship to go where it was needed, but the final game should ship with the ability to adjust the sensitivity.

 

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Switching from flight mode to hover mode was a one-button process, so it was simple to go from hanging in the air taking out guns on an airship to zooming through canyons while dog fighting a whole fleet of enemies.   As nervous as I was about the concept after the Sony press conference, I am just as confident after some hands-on with the game that the control scheme will work wonderfully.

 

The demo was short and sweet, so I can’t make many predictions about the final game.  I’ll go out on the limb and say that if it is a launch title, Warhawk will be one of the best games available.  If it isn’t available at or near the launch, hopefully Incognito will spend the time polishing the game’s graphics and controls to perfection and getting the game’s playtime up to way longer than the original, which could be finished in just a few hours.

 

Danny Webb

(June 13, 2006)