Game review on Xbox One
David Hull / Sun 17th Jul 2016
318 views / 1 bite
OVERVIEW Hawken, a free to play mech-based first person shooter, loads up on consoles after its initial life on the PC.
STORYLINE Another game that chooses to focus on its gameplay instead of it's narrative. There is a brief opening sequence depicting a crumbling world with mech pilots blowing up the remains of our beautiful planet, but this isn't presented to the player in any interactive form.
Let's get to the pointy end of this stick; mechs. Starting your career with a default mech, you are encouraged to dive straight in and wreak as much havoc as you can manage. From lightweights that can fly around the map at top speed to heavy duty models that trudge around with maximum firepower, each mech feels very personable. Your mech can be modified in the garage, tinkered with to look a little more "you" and generally become your unique to your play style. Including the rewards, purchasable comsetics and increasing options in the level up system that maxes at 30, there's a plethora of options to play with.They also have incredible control. All models use fuel to account for your thrusters which can be used to fly up or boost forward.
Between this and basic motion and fighting, everything is simple. There are no overly complex button combinations, instead tactics play a stronger role when engaging in combat. Co-operative play is also present with you and four friends taking on waves of enemy mechs or engaging in mock battles with a team of enemy bots. Good training before attempting the competitive game modes.Speaking of which, common candidates are present with Team and regular Deathmatch. Some unique game modes include Siege that has you collecting energy units to revitalise your teams, and Battleship and Missile Assault being a variation on Control Zone gametypes.The game is Free to Play which does mean that money for the game comes from buying skins and cosmetics with your real world money. Given the cost of the game is free, and you don't even need to buy these extras to have fun, it's entirely warranted and never punishes you for not paying.
GRAPHICS Unfortunately, console gaming is still rough when it comes to PC ports. So far I have yet to have an flawless experience, with disconnects and game crashes. The frame rate also drops far too often, resulting in combat that feels more chaotic than it needs to be, purely because the frame rate dips and rises so frequently.Visually, the game is a bit weird. Interiors of the mechs resemble the extreme, horrific close ups in Spongebob Squarepants, and the rest of the world suffers from blurry textures and texture pop in.
AUDIO The mechs, their weapons and abilities, enemies, everything sounds as mechanical and loaded with gears. The whir of your machine gun, the sounds of explosions being detonated around your mech are exciting and add that extra level of interactivity. Sound helps you to analyse your situation and status. Warning sirens inside your cockpit whining as you're attempting to thruster out of the way of explosives whilst also taking bullet fire is tense, but enjoyable.
VERDICT Hawken is a mech-tonne of light hearted fun, but consoles clearly weren't its original home. The chance to experience it is appreciated but there are some clear inconsistencies with the core framework. That said the gameplay and feel of the combat is well executed and frankly, for the potential total cost of nothing, it's hard to complain.