Hawken a great free-to-play online FPS
There are a ton of online FPS games out there, and Hawken – currently free and still in Beta for now – is standing out among them for its graphics, gameplay, and cool environments. It is free to play, but you can pay for credits that will help you progress faster and customize your rig. While it is a lot of fun and very addictive, it has its problems. The unique thing about Hawken is that rather than using human characters you are piloting mechs, which are sort of like walking tanks. There are a wide variety of mechs available from ones geared towards sharpshooting and sniping to repair and heavy firepower. The look of the vehicles themselves is remarkably realistic – your beginner mech looks a bit like the cab of a Mack truck with legs, complete with windshield wiper. You can change the look of your mech if you like, but that will cost you in the real world. The “plot” is that you are fighting on a dystopian world that looks like a cross between Children of Men and Bladerunner (with less neon). The worlds are very cool and dynamic, with multiple levels, choke points, and open areas to keep things interesting as well as environmental features that really capture your eye. Even the view of the cockpit controls is extremely detailed and helpful. When you play Hawken, you’ll find that you’ll die quickly. Your health is drained pretty quickly by enemy fire, and it’s hard to find places to hide and recover. You’ll also find out that the leveling-up process is quick but relatively ineffectual. Each level-up earns you a point to use towards increasing armor, fire rate, and so on. You won’t find much noticeable improvement without upgrading your weapons, defenses and so on. Real improvements such as better weapons and other improvements require currency. You earn Hawken credits by playing which can be used toward those upgrades, but again this is very slow. Of course you can buy credits and bypass the whole process. While this is free-to-play, it is definitely pay-to-win, at least early on. At least that it isn’t so limited for those who don’t want to pay that it isn’t still fun. There are four different modes of play, including classics like Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, as well as Missile Assault (control missile silos to bombard the opponent’s base) and the too-complicated-to-explain Siege. As you play you’ll be rated, and each available game is rated as well so you won’t have to join games with those significantly higher than you are. While overall the game is remarkably polished for being in Beta, it does hang and crash on my system on occasion. However the action is excellent, and downright frantic at times. One thing I like about Hawken is that while there is a lot of shooting and blowing things up, it’s all robots doing the dirty work. If you’re concerned about your kids viewing or playing “M” rated games due to violence and bloodshed, this will ease your fears a bit. There’s lots of sparks and flying parts, but no blood or “headshots”.