http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G-W7R5iDCE (this is a random youtube example and I take no credit for the video) http://www.playhawken.com/ This is a FPS mech combat game. Competing right alongside MWO this is a much more fast pace individual skill focused game than any PC mech title I can remember. Both Mech Warrior Online and Hawken have now gone to open beta. But both also allow you to spend money on the game at this time. (Similar to the tribes beta) So while hawken is not a final product, I feel it’s alright to review something that is ok with taking your money at this time. First major question you might have: Is it pay to win? Simple answer: No, it’s play to win. More so than any other free to play micro transaction game. Unlike MWo where you can buy a far superior mech for up to $30, this game allows you to buy all mech and components with points earned in game. Mechs will probably take you upwards of ten hours of play to unlock, but there are always free trial mechs if you get bored of the recruit mech. Arguably, they start you with a mech that is better than most. The only downside is that it looks like a microwave on legs. If you opt to buy a mech, it will cost your around $5, around the same price as a gun in planeside 2. The best part is, that weapons (so far) are unlocked by playing, not paying. --------------------------------------------- Now that we have that out of the way let’s talk about actual gameplay. This is where I get excited. There is huge room for pilot skill to determine the outcome. There is no overpowered single strategy in this game. I consistently see skilled pilots able to leave the scoreboard in awe using a different mech each time. How you move is what makes the game what it is. As a mech walks around, the cockpit jostles with your movement. You can hear and feel each footstep, and when I fire my weapons I can sense the vibrations rattling my chassis. And the satisfying sounds of gears turning let you really feel immersed in mech gameplay. You have a limited and self-resupplying fuel supply that lets you dash side to side, jump and glide or dash forward. This dash mechanic is what makes hawken the fast paced game of skill that it is. Most primary weapons are meant to do little damage and fire rapidly, while secondary weapons pack a huge punch and require a cool down time. It’s a result of the intentional balancing that your primary weapon will not be enough to take an opponent down by itself. Unfortunately, you will need a gaming rig updated in the past few years to run this at its highest quality. A common complaint I hear is that there is little combat feedback. And that it’s hard to tell if you are hitting a target. I personally don’t feel this is the case. There have been some cosmetic changes since the closed beta, so maybe I have not run into those problems because I didn’t have the chance to play this game then. If you watch the video I linked to at the top you can clearly see hit indications both on the enemy health bar and around the aiming reticle. Combat feedback is an interesting challenge from a developer’s perspective. But arguably this game takes the more realistic approach. The sound quality is so high that you can hear echoes in tunnels, but that does not mean that you will hear the sound of your bullets hitting a mech from a distance, while inside the mech you currently pilot. For what it is, an extremely good looking free to play game with more than just looks backing it up, this is well worth your time to install and give a test drive.