Starhawk Game Poster Image


Uneven shooter blends tower defense tactics and fast action.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Starhawk wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

Positive messages

This game sensationalizes violence, though of a sort clearly not of this world and impossible to emulate. Its story about two brothers on opposite ends of a war lightly explores the potential conflict between moral duty and family loyalty.

Positive role models

The game's hero is a good man, but uses violence to solve most of his problems. He's black, which is worth noting only because non-customizable, non-Caucasian protagonists remain a rarity in mainstream games.   

Ease of play

Controls should prove simple and intuitive, especially for people familiar with third-person shooters and tower defense games. The campaign isn’t particularly challenging, and multiple difficulty modes ensure that players of all skill levels are accommodated. However, online play may prove frustrating for rookies, who will likely find themselves up against veteran players who have mastered the skills necessary to expertly pilot the game's more powerful vehicles.


Players fire a variety of weapons -- pistols, rifles, rocket launchers -- at both human and semi-human enemies. Some attacks, such as quick knife slashes, briefly show a small amount of blood, and characters frequently call out in pain. Players can also board and control vehicles and emplace weapons capable of causing damage.

Not applicable

Light profanity, including the words "s--t" and "bitch" are heard in voiced dialogue throughout the game.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Starhawk is an action game that combines elements of shooters and tower defense strategy games. Players will spend much of their time in third-person combat and helming powerful vehicles, killing humanoid enemies by the dozen amid shouts and moderate blood effects, as well as devising defensive tactics. The game's hero is a good man, but he uses violence as a cure-all and isn't a particularly positive role model. Parents should also be aware that this game supports voice chat-enabled multiplayer.

What's it about?

The PlayStation 3-exclusive STARHAWK is a sci-fi themed shooter with a Western bent. Players take the role of a man who protects interplanetary frontiersmen harvesting valuable \"rift\" energy from the Outcast -- human miners exposed to excessive amounts of the stuff. Problem is, the Outcast's leader is his brother, which complicates things. Action isn’t limited simply to shooting bad guys with guns. Players must also strategically place a variety of defensive structures -- walls, turrets, bunkers -- which are instantly dropped from orbit. This gives the game a bit of a tower defense twist that may appeal to fans of strategy games. Then there are the Starhawk mechs, powerful robots that players can use to march over land and zoom through the sky. The quick campaign serves mostly to acquaint players with all of the options and strategies at their disposal. Most players are apt to spend the majority of their time online, going up against up to 32 other players in epic frays set on massive maps.

Is it any good?


There are plenty of good ideas tucked away in Starhawk, but they tend to get in each other’s way. The interesting story, focused on a conflict between brothers, shows promise, but its telling is relegated to lackluster drawings that pop up between missions. Plus, campaign levels are uninspired and consist mostly of players being ordered around a map to defend and attack various locations and targets.  

The game fares better online, but still fails to soar. Building and defending bases is a lot of fun, and the game's vehicles are a blast to pilot. However, success depends on two things: coordinated team efforts (which are tricky in public matches with up to 32 players) and whether you have any decent pilots on your side. Matches often feel frustratingly lopsided, especially if one side has a couple of skilled pilots and the other has none. Starhawk is likely to work up a small, rabid following of dedicated players, but most casual shooter fans are likely to leave in frustration.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about violence in media. How can you be sure that your kids have a healthy perspective on the violence that appears in the media they consume? Ask them to describe how they feel after playing a violent game.

  • Families can also discuss online safety. What would you do if you encountered an online predator or bully?

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 3
Subjects:Hobbies: building
Skills:Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
Thinking & Reasoning: decision-making, strategy
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date:May 8, 2012
Genre:Third-person shooter
Topics:Space and aliens
ESRB rating:T for Blood, Language, Violence

This review of Starhawk was written by

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 17 years old Written bySAM_626_95 May 29, 2012

CSM star rating way off!

I agree with everything common sense says except star rating. This is the best multi player exclusive ps3 has to offer. Its not just about aimless shooting its vehicular base building conflict. IGN 9.0/10
What other families should know
Too much violence
Safety and privacy concerns
Teen, 14 years old Written byBlendercat May 11, 2012

Confusing, but great

This is a very good game. The game, at least online, teaches you about basic strategy and... well, that's it. The campaign is little more than a teacher for the real deal, the online. Beware, as here there are ruthless people playing only to win. The majority however, is gamers looking for a good time. You can create your own servers, which allows you to change available structures in 'loadouts.' For example, the 'Ground Pounder' loadout is geared towards vehicular combat, with repair stations, supply bunkers, and no aerial vehicles. You can also turn off voice chat, I believe, and set the time and player limit. This allows you to start with smaller matches before going to 16-on-16. You can also filter results in the server list. Overall, this game seems challenging, but with practice, it becomes a great experience. CONTENT: Some knife kills can get a bit graphic, such as slitting a target's throat or jumping onto their back and stabbing them. Blood spurts from a successful knife strike, and it splatters the screen when hit. Language is minimal, but there is quite a bit of violence.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 15 years old Written bymrdude05 September 17, 2012

a teen's review

Star hawk is a fast paced action shooter that combines tactics and sci-fi action. In starhawk you play as gunman Emmet Graves,you are hired to protect energy mining sights from monsters known as outcasts. the outcasts are people who were overexposed to the energy being mined and they became mutated and distorted. In the campaign you return to your home-world of Dust after you were hired to protect their energy mining operation. without revealing too many spoilers, you protect the mining sights and the shipments of energy until the outcasts destroy the ship that was suppose to receive the energy that had been mined.The towns people try to retaliate against the outcasts for destroying the ship but it ends badly and Emmet must step in to save the day. The campaign is short and not very fulfilling, Emmet is a shallow person who only seems to care about the paycheck for 80% of the game and the supporting characters are not very dynamic.However, the game does have a very original theme. It is not a clone of any game on the market today, it is a sci-fi western, not a space marine game like so many others. Story mode is not the focus of the game, it is just meant to be a tutorial for multiplayer. Starhawk focuses on competitive online multiplayer game play. There are four game modes all but one is team based. there is Team Death Match (two teams try to kill as many as the enemy as possible within a time limit), capture the flag (two teams try to capture the enemy flag while defending their own), zones (two teams struggle to capture as much territory as possible within a time limit), and Death Match (a dogfight where players try to shoot down as many enemy aircraft as possible withing the time limit). There is also co-op mode in which up to four players defend a energy collector form waves of outcasts. co-op can be played online but it is much more fun split screen. as with any multiplayer game you need to be cautious of using voice chat. unless you are talking to people you know, i recommend muting everyone. players can also make or join clans (teams) or parties (temporary teams), this helps if you know the people in the clan or party but is unless unless you can communicate with them. One thing that makes starhawk unique is the build and battle system. you can build a wide variety of structures to aide you in battle. a few examples are turrets (they shot any enemy in range), AA guns (they shoot at enemy aircraft), bunkers (give weapons and re-fill ammo), shields (protect players from incoming enemy fire), and various vehicle spawners. all structures require energy to build and you can get energy by killing enemies or finding energy barrels scattered throughout the map. the game also focus heavily on vehicular game play. there are four different vehicles a hawk (a plane/mech), a razorback (a jeep with a mounted machine gun in back), a sidewinder (a hovering motorcycle like vehicle),and an ox tank (a heavy tank/artillery gun) each vehicle can be purchased with energy from its respective spawner. the visuals give this game a gritty western feel. the character models for the outcasts could be a little scary to younger audiences because of their zombie like appearance. depending on how they are damaged, players will release small amounts of blood. if a player is killed by an enemy knife, shotgun, or pistol they will release a small cloud of blood that does not stick to the ground or the walls. Only the outcasts bleed and it is unrealistic and white in color. Over all starhawk is a good game but it is not for people under the ages of 12.
What other families should know
Too much violence