Hawken Preview (PC)

Online multiplayer games are commonplace on PC, with beta’s for the latest titles coming and going week by week. Online multiplayer mech combat games though, few and far between. Hawken is as ambitious as the genre gets, running on Unreal Engine and capturing an interesting mixture of shooter gameplay and tactical decisions.

Each mech is equipped with a variety of weaponry, the lack of ammo making the experience stand out next to other online shooters. Instead weapons will overheat, requiring a small wait before they can be used again, giving matches a tactical ebb and flow. When seen in conjunction with the slow movements of the mechs, it really does feel like no Online game you've played before.

The environments are vast enough to allow your mech to manoeuvre around effectively.

It takes a fair number of matches to adjust to this new style of shooter, especially if you are coming from one of the more frantic games on the market. You always feel in control though, surprising considering how often mech sections in other games can feel completely on-rails. After the initial difficultly spike the mechs seem to become much more nimble as you master the control system, allowing you to expand your potential tactical choices to no end. Hawken is unique in so many ways, even at this stage of release.

The game is still in beta, and so of course there are a few technical niggles that can impact the enjoyment. Graphically, the title holds up well in bigger matches, the framerate infrequently becoming an issue. The design is interesting, with the three main classes of mech give distinct design quirks to make it easier to distinguish between them.

The areas you battle in are a blend of futuristic metallic textures and city style buildings. That said, the stages seen in the beta fail to capture much of the potential the environments you fight in have, it would be great if the final game took a more exciting direction once complete.

You control your Mech with a detailed cockpit view.

There are obvious games to compare to Hawken currently on the market, but the fact the game is an online only shooter means that this must be original enough to stand up to more 'complete' experiences. Of what we played, the game is shaping up nicely, with the unique mech control making for a tactical pace of gameplay.

There is still work to be done, but the potential for a worthwhile online experience is definitely there, especially for players who are craving a fully-fleshed out mech game. Hawken is in open beta right now and the full game should be released before the end of 2013.

Most Anticipated Feature: Seeing how people adjust to the controls and showcase just how deadly the mechs can be.

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