May 12, 2013
It's no secret that I'm a die-hard mech loving fanatic. Mech suits will always stir my nethers and make me feel like a million bucks when I get to play as a giant steel biped with armaments that make a gunship jealous.
I've been following Hawken for four long years, and it's finally in open beta as of January; while this isn't breaking news, it certainly is something that I consider important. Free-to-play, to boot.
Hawken brings a lot of realism and beauty to the antiquated mech gaming genre. It's a first person shooter, sure, but your mech FEELS heavy as fuck. Stopping and starting movement feels laborious, and you need to plan how all of this goes down prior to just ramming into battle. Getting in and out quick is made a simple task if you choose to use your thrusters, which allow you to sort of hover and slide around at the expense of being able to shoot and a fairly short burn rechargeable fuel tank.
There are three main body types for your mech: A, B, and C. Each is customizable for looks and main skill (cooldown weapons, increase damage, increase defense); A is the fastest, C is the slowest and most heavily armored, and B is the happy medium.
Other than that, the weapons just feel right; they fit the gameplay and the slow chug of your warmachine so well that I'm not remotely upset that you can only lug two weapons into battle (one for each arm). Of course, this game is not that simple: the issue of ammo is swapped with the danger of overheating. Continous firing is penalized with a complete downtime for firing for about three seconds, which still does nothing but add more realism to this game.
Now there are the two things that REALLY separate this game from other mech games: look and feel of the cockpit and the maps. In the cockpit, you can see dials and warning statuses that you actually USE. Honestly, this whole feature makes this game sexy as hell and crazy immersive because you feel like you're there in the cockpit, pressing the buttons that hurl volleys of projectiles at whatever enemy comes your way.
The environments are nothing shy of absolutely beautiful and well mapped for unique conflicts and a good amount of strategy. Map variety is absolutely unprecedented in a mech game, including some wide-open maps with minimal cover, insanely detailed urban environments, and post-apocalyptic shanty-towns that scream "RUN A FUCKING MECH THROUGH HERE AND FUCK SHIT UP". Maps bottleneck in a natural way, provide cover without being clunky, and always have more than one route to invade an area being defended.
There are four existing gametypes, all of them multiplayer. Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, Siege, and Missle Assault. While the first two explain themselves, Missile Assault and Siege aren't necessarily commonplace for a game. Siege is an objective driven game mode, where each team has a massive battlebarge overhead that gets launched when the team gathers enough energy. The barge creeps towards the enemy base, but can be destroyed, which sets the objectives back to phase one, which was gathering more energy. Missile Assault is a point capture-and-hold sort of game mode. If you've played anything from the Battlefield series, then you know how to play this.
Well, this game costs money when you want to start doing upgrades on looks, or to unlock more technical aspects of the game that you simply can't wait to use to kick ass even harder. But all things in this game are unlockable with the points you earn from winning or just killing other players, meaning that you don't need to pay to play.
Look, if you like mechs and first person shooters, this game is completely up your alley. It's realistic, gorgeous, and smooth, and I'd recommend the living hell out of it to anyone who's looking for something new to play.