The rough guide to Warhawk

Warhawk is a game every PS3 gamer should buy this September. It's a one-trick pony, for sure, being effectively an online-only game (think classic PS2 mash Twisted Metal: Black Online). But Warhawk 's one trick is so entertaining, so appealing, so much chaotic fun, that it puts to shame even the bigger names on the release schedule.

In fact, having played a near finished version for several days (after blasting through the recent beta, too) we have to say we're more excited about Warhawk's breakneck multipayer exploding into the public domain than we are about Halo 3's less dynamic multiplayer action. Halo 3 will be fantastic, yes. But, like the aforementioned Twisted Metal, we can see Warhawk 's unashamedly shallow but gripping appeal outlasting even Bungie's epic blaster in our affections.

But you might be unfamiliar with Warhawk. It's certainly not a game that's too easy to tie down, gameplay-wise, from mere first-looks or early-doors playtests. And, yet, it's an extremely simple game at heart. So here we present a run down of the game's many aspects, ranging from the onfoot experience of your average soldier to the cloud-carving beauty on display from the cockpit of Warhawk 's jetcraft.

Foot soldier
Sit rep: Players start the majority of matches as a common grunt, equipped with nothing but a popcap pistol and brace of grenades. From such humble beginnings, though, can grow mighty pains in the ass for the opposition - and the soldier is nippy enough to escape from danger except in the most barren of terrain.

Job one: First port of call for any soldier is grabbing a vehicle. Any vehicle. It's easy to get left behind and lost in some of the bigger, more deserted areas, and pounding around without transport leaves the ordinary man on the ground incredibly vulnerable. Even scooting around in an unarmed jeep is preferable, as drivers will regularly come across stockades of useful weapons.

Best offense: The flamethrower weapon is a cure-all for every sticky situation involving enemy soldiers - a heavy swoop of flame and rivals go down screaming. It's the vital armament for both assaulting enemy command posts on foot and stealing flags, and also for repelling an opposition's invasion. Brilliantly, the flamethrower is almost as effective against tanks, though its short range requires getting into spitting distance from the tank's flank.

Warning: While it's possible to escape the attention of pilots overhead (being, after all, just a speck on the ground) it's a lot harder to shake off mobilized enemies on the ground. Tanks sweep soldiers aside without effort, or blast them from distance. And the jeep's onboard machine guns cuts through ground troops with ease. Abandoning the safety (and respawning vehicles) of a base on foot is a bad idea.

Most useless award: Sniper rifles are standard issue for all modern shooters, but Warhawk 's exciting vehicle combat means there's rarely a vulnerable foot soldier to take out. Campers who set up to snipe the enemy from a stationary position are leaving themselves wide open to instant death. The need to constantly be on the move cancels out any potential for long-range killing.

Golden moment: It's David versus Goliath, man against machine, but even the most injured of soldiers can take down the infinitely more lethal Warhawk jets, thanks to the shoulder-mounted rocket launcher. Watching a missile streak home and smash a jet from the sky is an awesome sight - especially if the pilot is taken by surprise thanks to the soldier's near-invisible presence far below on the ground.

Ben Richardson is a former Staff Writer for Official PlayStation 2 magazine and a former Content Editor of GamesRadar+. In the years since Ben left GR, he has worked as a columnist, communications officer, charity coach, and podcast host – but we still look back to his news stories from time to time, they are a window into a different era of video games.