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Warhawk Operation: Fallen Star
Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Incog Inc.
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 32
Genre: Online/ Third Person Shooter/ Shooter

Graphics & Sound:
The guys at Incog Inc. have been really good about keeping people interested in their games. Warhawk Operation: Fallen Star is the latest expansion add-on for the third person shooter and it brings some fresh new content into the fray.

Since Fallen Star is just an add-on, the graphics don't change that much. It uses the same engine as Warhawk, so it shouldn't surprise anyone how good it looks. The new map that came in the expansion, "Tau Crater", is a little smaller than most of the other maps available, but it has plenty of visual flair to remain impressive. The look and feel of the new map takes a while to get used to since the first thing anyone wants to do is explore. There are plenty of places to go and hide and the addition of a jetpack makes all the trees excellent hiding places for snipers. "Tau Crater" has a distinct feel that I described to someone as "What if a Star Destroyer crash landed on the Wookie planet Kashyyk from Star Wars?"

Everything always sounded good in Warhawk and Operation: Fallen Star is no exception either. All of the same sounds are present and enhance the feel of the game with their unique sounds. The new jetpacks, "Icarus Mk.1", sound just like the normal Warhawk jets. The new jetpack dispenser does have an odd sound, but feels at home in the conflict online in Warhawk.

As I said before, Warhawk Operation: Fallen Star brings with it a new map and a new vehicle to use. "Tau Crater" is a small symmetrical map, but more about the vertical space since you can perch upon the giant Chernovan ship that crashed in the middle of the map. The real reason to buy the add-on is for the "Icarus Mk. 1" jetpack. They handle just like a Warhawk, but less nimbly. The jetpacks are available in all of the previous maps and for all game modes, which changes the playing field drastically.

"Capture the Flag" was always tricky on the bigger maps because it was very rare that the host enabled the flag runner to fly a Warhawk. Now with the jetpacks, the flag runner can fly over, pick up the flag, hop in a jeep or tank and take off with little detection. The best part is that if the vehicle comes under heavy fire, just boost out far enough away to find another vehicle or reinforcements. Another useful strategy is to just hover underneath a bridge with a rocket launcher and wait until the right time, but be careful. Since you are mobile, you can be locked onto by enemy rockets as well.

Warhawk Operation: Fallen Star was released just a few weeks after all of the free summer updates that included two new game modes and trophies. The new map is really fun when playing "Hero Mode," which is just like "Juggernaut" in Halo, but with teams. Each team has a hero that has access to all of the weapons and increased health, but the catch is that they have a time limit on how long they can be the hero. The other mode is called "Collection" which functions like multiple CTF. There are many points on the map where tokens appear and the point is to collect as many tokens as you can and bring them back to the base. You can carry up to three tokens and you can pilot any vehicle while carrying them. The last part of the update was the long awaited Trophies. There are 57 trophies in all and 12 of them are tied to each add-on at four trophies each. Some of them are retroactive, most are not. They do a good job with variety making some of the trophies fun, and sometimes humorous, to earn. There is only one platinum trophy for getting ALL of the other trophies which means getting it isn't going to be easy.

Since Warhawk is an online-only shooter, the difficulty is entirely up to the people you play with. It is an easy game to pick up and learn, but really tough to be at the top at the end of round. Each mode has different ways of earning points, but the way I found was easiest was to just run around and capture spawn points and defend them until someone from my team spawns in that area. Not the most interesting way, but one of the most consistent ways to earn points.

The hardest part for most people in Operation: Fallen Star is going to be how to handle the new jetpacks. It is tricky trying to be resourceful when an enemy Warhawk is breathing down your neck and all you have is just a few grenades.

Being really good at Warhawk requires patience and commitment since clan members sometimes have all of the members in the top spots of a match. Just like a PC game, finding a good server is going to be the most difficult thing.

Game Mechanics:
Warhawk Operation: Fallen Star plays just like it has played for a year now. Collect weapons and kill the enemies while occasionally getting into a vehicle to speed up the killing process. With the addition of the jetpacks, the only real difference is how you control them. When you equip a jetpack from a dispenser, you press (Square). Once the jetpack is equipped, you press (R2) to ascend and (L2) to hover in place and maintain altitude. While you are in the air, you move around with the left stick and since there isn't a descend button like on a Warhawk, just letting go of the shoulder buttons will cause gravity to take control once again. For quick escapes, use the boost by double tapping the (R2) button. Everything else has stayed the same as an infantry unit. (R1) shoots the gun while (L1) lobs a grenade. A straightforward control scheme is implemented really well across the entire game, making it very accessible.

If you haven't picked up Warhawk yet, you can buy the game plus all of the add-ons for a bundled price now and I highly recommend it for anyone that enjoys competitive online games. Operation: Fallen Star alone is a great addition to the game and I can't wait to see what they come up with next as long as they keep the ideas fresh and interesting.

-HanChi, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Hanchey

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