A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
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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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3
- Subjects: Hobbies: building
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
Thinking & Reasoning: decision-making, strategy
- Price: $59.99
- 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
Themes & Topics
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