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Warhawk may have an impressively dedicated community five years since release, but I'm not sure I have the patience or desire to become part of it. Even the joy of flight isn't enough to overcome what is one of the PS3's most demanding online experiences.
Despite only coming out five years ago, Warhawk has a subtle touch of retro-cool about it. Released before Call of Duty 4 or Killzone 2 (never mind 3), Warhawk stood as the first essential online experience exclusive to the PS3. With no levelling system or perk bonuses, the game can appear to lack depth, however, Warhawk comes from a time when the motivation to play games was not ruled by how many medals you could unlock in an afternoon but by how much fun it was.
Warhawk begins by funnelling you though a number of breezy tutorials which allow you to fire off some rounds at floating targets and the like. It is here that I began to realise how far the shooting genre has come in such a short space of time. The lack of an over the shoulder camera made aiming cumbersome, combine that with the lack of iron sights and precision is almost impossible.
Weapons are strewn throughout the maps meaning all players start on an even playing field with only knowledge and experience being the difference between a good player and a bad one. This gave birth to a throbbing concern I have with Warhawk which stayed with me during my time with the game -- it's just too hard to get good enough to play competitively.
Stepping into the lobby I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of games still being undertaken by the Warhawk community. As the game began I headed directly for the first aircraft that caught my eye. As I darted away leaving the spiraling battle ground behind me, I began to see why so many people still play this -- flight in Warhawk is utterly, utterly perfect.
I am left feeling a little empty by the whole experience.
As I swooped along the deck under the flak cannon rounds, scattering my aggressors with a burst of machine gun fire a feeling of exhilaration came over me. My jubilation lasted only moments as I was targeted by a hostile fighter and was shot down. A quick re-spawn later and I attempted to recreate my elaborate daring-do and perhaps find the swine that shot me down. But I soon discovered that my enemies were too skilled and I slowly lost command of the skies. Sadly, this became a running theme of my experience with Warhawk.
It's frustrating. The overall experience is fantastic, but the number of hours and mental energy to get good is not worth the stress. Without a single player campaign or a more advanced training, there's no easy route to improvement either.
I know, I'm punishing Warhawk for my lack of endeavour. As I get blasted back to the re-spawn point for the hundredth time, it is clear that this ship has sailed. Playing old games for the first time is usually a pleasure. Unfortunately, Warhawk has progressed too far without me, and I can't really be bothered to play five years worth of catch-up.
Warhawk is honest in its intentions and threw me in under no false pretences of statistical progression or beginner's assistance. It represents a time when shooters were much more fun-centric -- camp almost. Warhawk has a jovial sense of being and avoids the rigours of COD-like realism in favour of allowing you to zip about like a mad-man in an aircraft that is far more advanced and intricate than its pilot.
I crave narrative and character development these days, and Warhawk has none of that.
It's not important to me to be good at games, but it is important that I feel like I am progressing at a decent rate, learning as I play. I can honestly say that I am as bad at Warhawk now as I was when I first started playing. I am left feeling a little empty by the whole experience. I imagine in the past I would be drawn into the Warhawk community, maybe even have joined a clan, but I'm happy to walk away from these challenges now.
I crave narrative and character development these days, and Warhawk has none of that. I'm certain the community will survive without me, there's always another whipping boy just around the corner; best of luck to him.
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