Hawken Preview
Hawken Box Art
System: PC
Dev: Adhesive Games
Pub: Meteor Entertainment
Release: Q4 2012
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p
When A Tank Isn't A Tank
by Shelby Reiches

Mechwarrior 2 was the first game I ever played against someone over an Internet connection. Back then, modems required a phone line, so we'd had a second phone line installed at home so my dad and I could both plug in, fire up NetMech, and take to mech vs. mech battles for household supremacy. As the younger generation, and a far more experienced gamer, I won nine times out of ten, but I was always jealous of the setup he used for the game: a Thrustmaster Flight Control System paired with a Weapons Control System Mark II. So many switches and buttons on that throttle that it was almost fetishistic!

Hawken Screenshot

Almost a decade later, I would receive Steel Battalion as a Chanukah gift, which I loved in equal measure for the game itself and its absurdly complex controller (though, when you boiled it down, you were really only using a couple of sticks, the buttons on them, and the pedals most of the time). Hawken continues this tradition of controller fetishism with its MEK-FU joystick. It's a dual-stick behemoth, which can separate into three segments (at least one of the sticks can be used independently, for games that don't demand such an intense setup). The center contains a full, if miniature, keyboard for messaging, along with a small readout that lists the player's call sign and short messages. There's a multitude of metal switches that are mostly for immersion and buttons for both explicit and programmable functions.


It's a bit strange, then, that Hawken is simply not that complex as a game. That isn't an indictment; it's just a statement of fact. Hawken is, for all intents and purposes, a mech-themed first-person shooter. It certainly goes further than that, as these metallic behemoths are not as agile as the mecha of Armored Core or Shogo: Mobile Armor Division. They have a definite sense of weight and a deliberate form of movement. Jumping, even with the attached jets, is a laborious procedure, and dashing cannot be stopped on a dime, as the thrusters take a split second to power down.

Hawken Screenshot

Their weapons are appropriately satisfying to fire, too, since they are many times stronger than what one would ever expect to see a humanoid holding, much less shooting. Dual wielding is, after all, simply a matter of having a second weapon strapped to one's other arm (or, in this case, composing one's second arm). The most common and basic combination of weaponry appeared to be that of a powerful chain gun on one side with a multi-rocket launcher on the other, but this is malleable, with characters able to pick both a basic frame and specific weapons for their avatar.

Hawken Screenshot

Under such an onslaught, even beefy mechs are going to go down quickly. Those of Hawken are no exception, though they are able to withstand a good few shots before collapsing and exploding in a shower of debris. Further, if one can escape to safety, it's possible to repair oneself with the built-in repair bots. It takes a long time to reach full health—somewhere in the neighborhood of forty-five seconds to a minute—but it removes the necessity for health power-ups, maintaining a focus on pure combat strategy.

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