Lasting First Impressions of Hawken
Developed by Adhesive Games
» War. War never changes. With an over saturation of FPS games pouring in every year since the COD revolution, it is very difficult finding titles in this genre that stand out, that are willing to try something different. Adhesive Games and Meteor Entertainment have accomplished something that I did not think was possible with this genre: Excite me. Enter Hawken, the free-to-play first person shooter to join the battlefield. You might be asking what makes this title stand out from the others? Well in this case, you aren’t jumping into the eyes of a generic grizzled soldier. You are taking the reigns in the cock pit of a hulking robot. Yes…it is as cool as it sounds
To reiterate, Hawken is a first person online shooter that is completely free to play (with the option of purchasing in-game currency to enhance your mech or gain a slight edge in terms of money gain or experience boosts, nothing game breaking). Sign up, download the client, and you gain instant access into the exciting online battles. There is no single player campaign, aside from the very short tutorial, therefore, this is meant to be played by multiple players online. Everyone begins with the same type of mech, with very minor tweaks capable to be adjusted at the start. As the player delves deeper into the four different online modes, expect to gain points into beefing up weapons, decreasing repair time, increasing dodge speeds, and many more. It is extremely accessible, especially for anyone that has played a FPS game.
The beauty and appeal of Hawken though, is from the robots themselves. Don’t expect over the top high speed mech action like Zone of the Enders, or gigantic robots the size of sky scrapers like in most robot related cartoons. These are smaller, heavy, gritty, powerful machines that require finesse and strategy to dominate on the field. The sounds of metal contracting and expanding as assault rifles cool off from over heating, or the echoes that bounce around the cyber punk battlefields as mechs are heard in the distance engaging the enemy, is enough to immerse you into the world of Hawken. Immersion is too light of a word to describe the visceral sensation of piloting one of these robots, or evading enemy fire as you deplete the last of your fuel reserves to find the perfect cover to repair your machine. Graphics are impressive and beautiful in the gritty dystopian future type of art style used for the levels and robots. Adhesive Games have definitely outdone themselves in this aspect.
The controls for Hawken are effective and simple while still being efficient in combat. The mechs can dash at the cost of fuel, jump and hover to reach higher points on the map or to brace oneself from the impact of falling too high, and control a primary and secondary weapon that are customizable in the game’s garage section. When the bullets and missiles are raining down, it is also possible to take cover to summon a small repair drone at the cost of loosing access to the map or being able to move. It makes taking on other robots and trying to stay alive as long as possible an exhilarating experience. As players gain money from matches that last roughly 15 minutes each, they are able to unlock multiple classes of robots that range from smaller and more maneuverable, to bulky battle tanks that sacrifice speed for armor and fire power. It all feels extremely balanced so far since a majority of the challenge will come from the pilot who is controlling the mech that just launched a volley of hellfire missiles in your direction.
For an hour’s worth of time, I was able to try out two of the four different modes available to play. The first two modes accessible are the standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch that pit players and their mech against a free for all of other players, or working in squads to get as many points as possible against the enemy team. The free for all deathmatch is definitely nerve wrecking having robots from all directions trying to destroy each other while team deathmatch is CRUCIAL to stick in groups to take down enemies. I found from the one match I played, the enemy was vastly superior to my team just for the simple fact that they would rush us in groups instead of going in alone. The other two unique modes that I have not had a chance to try out are Missile Assault which has the team capture and defend three missile stations to inflict damage onto an enemy base, and Siege which involves collecting energy to have a giant battleship fly and attack the opposing team’s base. Right now the game is in its beta stages, so hopefully more levels or modes might be implemented as time goes on, but for what they have so far, it is all very impressive for a free game.
As players play matches, they gain in game currency as well as experience points that level up the classes of mechs they own. Buying and equipping new skills will give players an edge on the field. If one thing I will thank COD for doing is revolutionizing this type of mechanic for online play as it gives players a sense of achievement or goal to unlock new equipment and weapons. My one minor complaint is that it can take some time to invest without actively buying in-game currency to purchase new robot classes or weapons. Luckily, because of how simple and fun the game is, it’s definitely not a total chore in this aspect.
Sweat, blood, and steel…
Adhesive Games, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.