Emmett Graves is a gun control mercenary travelling from planet to planet in order to rid the colonies of ‘Scabs’, a race of mutants who are out to kill all humans for reasons unknown. Given that this is a shooter/tower defence/Transformers rip-off, surely you shouldn’t be looking for a storyline that makes sense, right?
This really is one of the worst aspects of the game. The characters are beautifully designed and animated, but the appalling script, flat voice acting and uninteresting back story will see you skipping through a lot of this as it adds nothing to the gaming experience.
It is not all bad though. The cut scenes (presented comic book style) are extremely aesthetically pleasing, meaning the decision to skip or watch is sometimes a struggle. Keep in mind that the single player game can be completed in just five short hours so you may as well endure a few beautifully crafted cut scenes. (Turning the sound off is always a great option to get through it without destroying the controller.)
The game drops Emmett straight into the action with four tutorials in a row that are unable to be skipped, even after demonstrating your ability to shoot a gun, ride a space motorcycle and drop tower defence turrets from space to obliterate enemies without having to do much beyond that.
After defending several camps from the Scab invasion, Emmett is taken into deep space to board a ‘Hawk’, a metal suit that can transform into a fighter jet and then into a mech which can walk on land and gun enemies down with ease. The gameplay is so basic (and the enemies go down so quickly) that the single player rarely feels like a challenge.
Each level provides a pre-set loadout tailored to what is needed to complete it. This can feel a little insulting. Encouraging you to customise your Hawk could have added another layer of interest to the game.
The good news is that the online aspect of the game stands out as one of the best parts of Starhawk. Lightbox Interactive has crafted an experience with so much detail and finesse that this game can easily live on as a multiplayer portal. After finishing the campaign and entering the multiplayer universe, those endless tutorials finally feel like they are paying off. You have free reign of your arsenal as you fight it out in a large open world with a seemingly endless amount of other players. It truly is an outstanding multiplayer experience.
Fans of tower defence and third person shooters will find something here. Stunning visuals will keep your eyes busy but lack of choice and a short campaign loaded with too many tutorials let the game down in a way that cannot be redeemed by the multiplayer component.