With the recent purchase of Hawken by Reloaded, I feel that I should throw my two cents into the mix. I've been playing Hawken since last march, and it is by far one fo my favourite games that I have ever played. I've spent about $50 on it over the course of a year and felt that I got every dollar's worth out of it. It is by no means perfect, and has several flaws in it that range from annoyances to game breakingly bad. So do I reccomend Hawken as a game to spend your time and money on? Read on and find out.
First off, Hawken looks FANTASTIC, with good (but not the best) optimization and physx support. Hawken just looks awesome! Simple as that.
Hawken is a class based game, which means that there are 18 mechs that have specific roles within their team. Meaning that there is an optimal way to play each and every mech, which means that you won't be able to dive into a conflict head on and be a monstrous killing machine in every mech. A Tech (the medic class) should not be a frontline assault mech in the same way a Brawler (a fat, heavy, burst damage mech) should not be a sniper. It is important to either pick a mech that suits your preffered playstyle and learn different playstyles according to the mech you're playing.
Yet another thing that I like about Hawken is that there is no such thing as 'lonewolfing'. It is impossible to try and play Hawken like you would play CoD or a similar FPS game because you cannot kill more than one mech by yourself. You are not fighting squishy humans that can be killed with one shot to the head by a pistol, you are fighting 20 meter tall bipedal war machines. Mechs do not die very easy, and therefore it is nigh on impossible to kill 2 mechs at once, much less an entire team. Hakwen is a game where you NEED to stick with your team and communicate with them in order to be the most effective you can be.
The amount of weapons for Hawken is also gratifying. Each mech has a permanent secondary weapon and with a primary, alternate and 'prestige' weapon unlocked with in game currency or real money. one thing that is very important to mention is that with the exception of a select few mechs, ALL PRIMARY WEAPONS ARE VIABLE ON ANY MECH. Just beacuse a weapon is called a 'Presitge Weapon', it doesn't mean that it is a flat out upgrade. Almost all weapons on all mechs are viable, it just depends on adjusting your play style to fit with the weapons you're using.
Hawken's controls are also unique. One of the things that every player should learn how to do early is on dodge. You can do a dodge side to side by pressing shift and the side movement keys. While it may not seem like much, dodging is probably the single most important thing you can learn in Hawken. It can be used for dodging missiles, hiding behind cover, getting into and out of combat and even for movement. Once you learn Hawken's movement controls, you will never forget them.
HOWEVER, Hawken is by no mean a perfect game, and there are several issues that need to be adressed. The first, and biggest, of which is the enormous skill gap that players WILL encounter in beyond mid level games. Once you reach a certain MMR (Typically around 2100-2200), the number of games you will be able to join will be few and far between, and when you are able to join you will rarely enter matches with people of your skill level. I'm currently sitting at 2200 MMR and I either end up playing with relatively new players who I can murder with ease, or with the "Super Leet" players who have been playing since alpha/early beta that can kick my ♥♥♥ in seven different ways. There are not enough middle ranking players in Hawken right now, so there is no kind of playing field for mid-high ranking players within the community ATM. It makes it rather frustrating to play PvP, but the alternative mode isn't a good alternative.
The AI game mode, where you and a team fight against AI controlled bots is often overlooked by the majority of the community. It's a good way to learn how to play with new mechs and weapons... or at least it would be if the AI wasn't so f**king cheap and atrouciously designed! The bot desgin in Hawken is some of the worst I've ever seen, with perfect aim, higher damage output and key input reading being the main issues. The bots can and will dodge shots that they shouldn't even SEE, shoot you around corners due to the fact that they have NO LATENCY WHATSOEVER and do higher amounts of damage to you than you could hope to do to them from ridiculous ranges. While the AI mode isn't Hawken's most popular mode, it is still in the game and desperately needs to be fixed.
The third issue which I feel is hurting Hawken's potential is the sheer number of cheaters, hackers, and aimbotters that are flooding the community. I can bearly play a match without seeing at least one or two players who are clearly aimbotting or wallhacking. Even if I'm playing as a mech that can turn invisible, I still get sniped by players halfway across the map with full auto weapons. I hear tell that there are plans to put an anti-cheat system into Hawken soon, but until then I don't feel that PvP is worth my time due to the rampant cheaters, limited server selection and limited number of people of my skill level to play against.
My fourth complaint is the awkward viewing. As anyone who has played Hawken before can tell you, there is a turn cap, so you can't do a 720 degree spin with one flick of the wrist. In fact, in my experience it feels almost like negative mouse acceleration, due to the fact that you need to set your sensitivity just right in order to avoid overshooting, which can be a pain in the ***. It's something that I find irritating, but not game breaking. If you can get used to the turn cap, you'll be just fine.
Lastly, are Hawken's maps. Some are great, like facility, frontline, werckage and uptown, and others are crappy (I'm looking at you bazaar. You too bunker). Most of them are well desgined and fun to play on, and map knowledge is definetely an important skill to learn in Hawken. But the way the maps are built leaves a lot to be desired. It is very easy to get stuck in a wall if you dodge into it, the debris on the ground is annoying since it gets in the way of your shots and there are some maps that you can break (Not saying which ones though), and climb on top of the ceiling box to shoot people from. These issues are incredibly annoying and can ruin a good match.
So in summary, here are the pros and cons of Hawken in its current state.
-Large variety of mechs/weapons
-Unique and fun movement mechanics (easy to learn, hard to master)
-Encourages team based play
-Giant robots shooting other giant robots!
-HUGE player skill gap
-Broken map design (clipping into walls, leaving the map boundaries, etc.)
-Hackers and cheaters everywhere
-Awkward turn cap
Do I reccomend you play Hawken? YES, absolutely! It could be a lot better than it is in its current state, but I have faith that Reloaded will take good care of Hawken.