Starhawk Campaign Hands-On: Wild Wild West

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Starhawk Campaign Hands-On: Wild Wild West

Though legions of bloodthirsty PSN warriors have plunged into Starhawk’s multiplayer beta, the single-player campaign has remained stubbornly cloaked in shadow. Until now: At a media event in New York City this week, Lightbox Interactive finally gave a peek under that cloak, showcasing a series of frantic battles and lush cinematic sequences from the game’s story-driven campaign. As Emmett Graves, an interstellar mercenary infected by a priceless but mutagenic resource dubbed “Rift energy,” you’ll use the game’s dramatic Build and Battle combat system to call down turrets, walls, vehicles and structures from outer space. Your objective is to defend the frontier town of White Sands from marauding Outcast invaders — including your Rift-possessed outlaw brother Logan.


Starhawk’s Western-tinged story is told through lavishly illustrated cut-scenes that weave in and out of the gameplay, seamlessly connecting the action sequences and, better still, cutting between-mission load times to the bone. I sampled several minutes of the campaign and was pleased to discover a fast-paced yet strategic sandbox shooter that grants the player an unusually wide array of options. In one mission, Emmett’s partner Cutter directed me to commandeer a nearby tank in order to flush out several nearby mortar emplacements that threatened the town of White Sand. I demurred, preferring to remain on-foot and rely on my trusty laser-guided rocket launcher to peg the enemy vehicles from a distance. It was a somewhat foolish decision but I appreciated having a choice.

I wish I could detail everything I saw (hint: I saw an awful lot), but Lightbox Interactive is understandably sensitive about spoilers. Suffice it to say that the game’s campaign appears to be a meaty experience, serving up far more than a weak-kneed warm-up for the obligatory multiplayer modes. I spoke with Lightbox Interactive President Dylan Jobe to try and pry out details in advance of the game’s May 8th launch. And this is just the beginning — Jobe has even more to say in his interview on the latest PlayStation Blogcast. Read on and leave your questions in the comments!

PlayStation.Blog: Lightbox Interactive has been fairly secretive about Starhawk’s single-player campaign. What sparks Emmett Graves’ quest?
Dylan Jobe, President, Lightbox Interactive: It doesn’t start out as a quest for Emmett — it starts off as a job. Emmett is a Rift energy salvager, and he’s good at what he does. He and his partner Cutter go into the frontier, find claims that are under attack by the Outcast, and defend them.

But it just so happens that Emmett’s latest job is back on Dust, in his hometown of White Sands. And because Emmett and his brother Logan went separate ways many years ago – Logan to the Outcast, Emmett staying with humanity — Emmett takes the job in order to bring his outlaw brother to justice. The whole single-player game is about Emmett confronting his brother and protecting his hometown.

PSB: Starhawk’s Western themes seem to extend beyond the art direction – they’re much deeper than I expected.
DJ: The Western theme influenced not only the things you’d expect, like the visuals. It influenced the music composition, the structure of the narrative, the open vastness of the frontier, the expansion and building, the Gold Rush…even the intimate story between Emmett and his brother Logan. The Western themes seeped into all aspects of the game.

PSB: Starhawk’s campaign battles give the player an unusual amount of freedom. Have shooters become too cut-and-dried?
DJ: First and foremost, we want this game to be unique. The shooter genre is packed with mega-juggernaut great games, but shooters are also due for a twist. In most single-player shooters, you play a linear experience: event, event, event, set piece, event, event, event, set piece. With Starhawk, we wanted to give the player a combat challenge: Here’s what’s going to attack you, here’s when it’s going to attack you, and here are the tools you can use. Now play it however you want!

This approach is easier said than done because it introduces a lot of bugs during the design process, but it’s exciting because different players will stumble across many different strategies for success. You might love flying the Hawks and want to use them as many scenarios as possible, and that’s perfectly fine.

Starhawk for PS3

PSB: The co-op mode seems to push that sandbox philosophy as far as it will go. How does it work?
DJ: Co-op teams up you with up to three other players, and you’re defending a Rift claim. The system will randomize the encounters – say a wave of snipers or waves of different vehicles – and force you to adapt using the Build and Battle tools. Co-op is a fun way to play the game, but it also helps you learn how to defend your base in multiplayer, with the random encounters helping to simulate the randomness of humans you’ll fight online.

PSB: When I went hands-on with the campaign, I found myself battling enemies I never saw in the multiplayer mode – we’re talking radically different stuff here. I know you’re being tight-lipped, but what can you tell us?
DJ: In some respects, they’re similar to unit types you might find in an RTS game. You’ll encounter swarm-type characters, big brutes….they all have a different texture and impact the combat in different ways. I can’t go into a ton of detail, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the single-player, because you’ll find a ton of enemies and encounters you won’t find in multiplayer.

The campaign isn’t based on the multiplayer maps, either. This is a narrative-driven single-player experience, with unique maps and encounters all the way through the game. They range from small battles in the desert to huge space battles around capital ships to defending this huge space train to the epic confrontation with Logan — it’s quite diverse. A journalist I spoke with earlier watched me play two missions, and told me it was like two games worth of content. There are a lot of toys in this toolbox and you’re going to get your 60 bucks worth.

PSB: Rift energy is central to the game’s universe, it’s sort of like “blue gold.” But what is it, exactly?
DJ: There are hints about it, but we don’t want to pull a midichlorian [laughs]. You’ll learn more about the origins of Rift energy if you’re observant. But the important part is, Emmett is a ticking time bomb. He’s been infected by Rift energy and he’s wearing this regulator to buy time. His partner Cutter is trying to keep him from turning in an Outcast, but Emmett knows that some day he will turn. He’s effectively part human, part Outcast…and so he’s something of a dark hero, which is a classic component of Westerns.

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6 Author Replies

  • I’m still waiting for may to approach.

    I have the Limited Edition Twisted Metal. (With Black Ops). Inside had a pre-order code for Starhawk. The Sweet-tooth skin. I can’t confirm to use it until may. Which reads in BOLD.

    This game is worth the wait.

  • @42

    “Killzone 3 SP was Epic!
    Beats the holy crap out of every other shooter released last year. Including Resistance 3 (wasn’t bad and actually fun, but haven’t completed it yet since I’m playing Uncharted 3.)”

    Killzone 3 was an abomination and Sony and GG should be ashamed for releasing it. They went from a 90+ game on Metacritic to mid 80s and turned off the Killzone fans in droves. They changed the characters, the story was stupid, the acting and writing terrible and it had one of the worst, dumbest endings I’ve had the misfortune to experience. I can not believe how badly they messed up the series after almost redeeming it with Killzone 2.

  • Everyone to has his opinion.
    I personally enjoyed every aspect of Killzone 3’s SP.
    Killzone 2 wasn’t bad and as far as I know, Killzone 3 has excellent scores.
    Besides, you can’t base your gaming purchase purely on a score.

    Check Ninja Gaiden 3, on IGN Xbox360 review, they gave it a 3 while the PS Magazine gave it a 8.

    Big difference! Why? Well the Xbox360 version didn’t include Kinect functions while PS version had Move.
    And they were envious and jealous. That simple.

    The IGN review gave for excuse that the story didn’t make sense, and I’m like, when is the last time a Ninja Gaiden game actually made sense? The first thing you fight a dojo Sense master, the next your fighting Heavily armored cyborgs, the next mutant aliens before taking down Giant Living Statues…..
    Back then when it was. Xbox360 exclusive, they had perfect 10 scores regardless of the story.

    So yeah, you can’t base yourself on everything you see on the Internet.

    Especially rumors, huh, who actually pays people to come up with that crap…………
    Rumour Rumour on the wall. Tell the Bu**Sh** to us all!

  • I think this game is going to be awesome. The AI is going to be good because of all the data they got from warhawk. so I have high expectation for this game. I know I won’t be disapointed. But this game isn’t getting a lot of love from the press. definately a sleeper title.

  • I’ll be LMFAO if they start a Rumour about a Disc-Less PS4!

  • “…huge space battles around capital ships…” –Best news I’ve heard all day. What is with the lack of starfighter games in the current generation of consoles? I am so psyched for the diversity of gameplay that Starhawk has to offer.

  • hurry up and post something new. this headline is days old lol.

  • I have so many doubts about the single player campaign considering they haven’t shown it at all. I’m not interested in multiplayer, so I REALLY hope they pull off a great Single Player campaign. If they don’t – if it is just a series of uninspired bot matches like we all suspect it is – than I won’t buy this; flat out. Same reason I skipped on Twisted Metal; the multiplayer focus just isn’t appealing to me, despite the great actioney core of these games. My PS3 is using wifi, and it hasn’t been able to connect to the PSN for weeks now; multiplayer isn’t an option. I’m hopeful for this game’s campaign, but incredibly doubtful – and the “details” revealed here do not paint a very interesting picture.

    The game comes out in a few weeks. Must I wait for the launch date and ensuing media coverage to find out if this game has single player chops?

  • great info :D soon starhawk soon

  • first warhawk now this i cant wait it looks awesome

  • I fear this game is going to be TOO focused on the single player campaign :(

    The beta was ok, its neat and new. But it felt like a dumbed down warhawk with build and slow down the battle thrown in. It really needs more built into it. and about 100 less turrets so people actually play the game.

    Single player is great and all. I’m sure it will be awesome. But without human interaction I just find games boring now.

    Warhawk has forever ruined my opinion and patience for games… for the better!!

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