By Wayne Webb
Star Hawk is another game that is really two or more games masquerading as one. It’s a first person shooter, strategy, tower defense and a flying game all rolled into one. While there are moments of brilliance in each of these sections, the resulting mélange of styles serves none of them that well and the total game suffers for this.
The excellent presentation does make up for this though to some extent. The comic book-style characters and cut scenes are reminiscent of the Infamous series of games, another one where the style and presentation elevated the gameplay. There is a real sense of story and depth to the world, with a pre-packaged reality about rift energy and an ongoing good vs. evil dynamic that requires little explanation. Add in the steel guitar western epic music that sounds like it’s been lifted from the Firefly soundtrack and it becomes a game that is lovely to listen to and watch even when the game play grates.
There are plenty of great things about the game; the weapons, the constant action and the pacing are all fast and furious. However there are also issues with each style. Sometimes the weapons are ineffective or erratic in the heat of battle and inconsistency can annoy in a hail of bullets and explosions. Hard out action and Tower Defense don’t always go together that well, and this is no exception as you have to build and deploy defenses as well as offences and the balance between the two is not always clear. In the air when piloting your mech for the flying scenes, you quickly find that your maneuverability is limited, and yet your enemies seem to move, dodge and do things you can’t with ease. In this kind of game having no free form 360 or looping ability (you have to double tap to flip back) is unforgiveable when it appears your enemies’ can. Likewise the strategy elements are not quite up to speed, the AI soldiers and Hawks can be very skilled, but the overall storyline is forgiving and pushes you down a path regardless of how you decide to play.
I liked the game in pieces; it has strong elements and a great style. When you jump suddenly from planet bound to space craft sections with little explanation and unexpectedly change game styles as well, it gets jarring. Also the save points are too far apart and when you come back to the game after taking a break the replay sections to get back to where you left it are irritatingly long.
Pros: Excellent presentation, western theme, music and sound, loads of action.
Cons: Confusing styles, flight control issues, story jumps around too much, infrequent save points.
3 Shacks Out Of 5