On Wednesday, I was lucky enough to nip down to Sony HQ. I spent an hour playing the first couple of missions in the Starhawk single player campaign. Will the solo experience match the excellent multi player that many of you have already sampled in the beta?
The game begins with an introduction to the heroes, Emmett Graves and Sydney Cutter, and teases the back story of Emmett’s brother. There also appears to have been a woman in Emmett’s life before he had his little accident and went all glowy. The tale begins as Emmett walks back into her life, ten years since they last spoke.
All of the cut scenes are utterly gorgeous and look like an animated graphic novel rather than CGI – you can see a couple of brief glimpses of these in the singe player trailer. Although the art style resembles a comic, the scenes are fully animated and work superbly within the context of the game.
The animations also tell of the Union who send out prospectors to wild and uncharted planets of the Frontier to fend for themselves and also of the Reavers, who are colonists who have been mutated by Rift energy.
Sorry, I meant Outcast not Reavers. Sod it, who are they trying to kid, it’s Firefly, right down to the ‘Cowboys in space’ theme and the excellent twangy guitar music that strikes up in the quieter moments. There is another quality Starhawk shares with Firefly – it’s brilliant.
The mission begins with Emmett following a local sheriff to an outpost so it’s time to saddle up a Sidewinder speeder bike (fans of coincidences: there is a speeder bike in Star Wars called Starhawk) and put the peddle to the metal and your jaw to the floor. The build I played was still in development but the differences between the first reveal last year and even the multi player beta from a few months back are noticeable.
The bike is fast and so is the frame rate, which is silky smooth. The draw distances are impressive and the graphics are gorgeous – and we are talking Uncharted-style ‘stop on top of a mountain and just admire the view’ gorgeous, not just ‘quite nice’. I could have spent all my time just zooming about on the bike, racing across the sandy plains with a huge planet in the sky.
The map for the first level is large, it took me about a minute at top speed to reach the first outpost and then at least another minute of zooming through rock formations to reach the Outcast base.
The second mission finds Cutter and Emmett in space, defending a huge platform. Here you learn the basics of Starhawk control and, once again, it looks superb. There are a few humorous touches as well, a small cut scene shows two of the workers discussing whether Emmett is an Outcast and later on, when I tired to take the Starhawk inside the building, a polite but haughty computer told me I should consider removing the mech before entering.
Actually, that is something we have not seen in the multi player – you can go inside buildings on the space stations and that means battles will rage inside, outside and in space.
You have probably played the beta so there is little point me going over old ground but there is one thing I will say: that this feels and plays like a single player game, not something that has been cobbled together from bits of the multi player.
It is a full blown solo experience and I would happily pay full price for just the single player campaign, also having the fantastic multi player makes Starhawk one of 2012’s essential purchases.