Nowadays, it's rare to come across an online shooter with some originality instead of just another generic, modern-military, 'shooty, bang, bang' game. Luckily, developer Adhesive Games has broken the mould with Hawken and tried something a bit new.
Hawken is a multi-player shooter, but in Mechs: giant bipedal machines with guns and missile launchers all over them. You start with a basic Mech with basic weaponry and as you play more, you will unlock credits that can be used to buy better Mechs and level up your existing Mech, which slightly enhances its performance.
The different Mechs all require different play styles to use. For instance, one Mech has a minigun and rocket launcher, but the minigun isn't very good for passed short range. Another has a 'sub-machine cannon' with is low damage but has a higher rate of fire, a longer range and doesn't overheat as easily. Finally, one has two missile launchers, but is more-or-less useless at close range (unless you want to kill yourself) and very easy to miss with; it's high powered and deadly, but only if you know how to use it. Mechs are also heavily armoured and can repair themselves, so it's common for players to suddenly flee in the middle of combat.
The game is difficult for a new player to enjoy. There is no match making, which means you can't select servers with less experienced players. This is a big problem as newbies will find themselves going against high level players as soon as they get into the game, who will all be armed with missile launchers, sniper weapons and all sorts of high powered weaponry that you cannot access. This results in you getting killed quickly and often.
I certainly found this annoying at first, but after a few matches I started learning the ropes and getting to grips with some tactics and soon I was up to around 10 kills per match, which are 5-per team in a 15-minute round. I was happy with that considering this is a new type of game for me, although I also managed to pick up an award for 'most deaths per round', which is probably not something I should be proud of.....
Once I had the ropes of the game and could play up to a good standard (finally!), I started to pick up a few more hints and tips by watching how other players react in combat. My conclusion was that being in the air gives you an advantage, more mobility, better aim, and it's harder for your opponents to hit you. The other trick I picked up was that dashing left/right is the best thing to do in a fight; dodge a missile, surprise your enemy, or quickly jump round corners. Another trick not many people seem to know is that if you try to dash backwards, you spin round. This is pretty useful when someone surprise attacks you from behind because turning round in the Mech takes forever. Hopefully, these hints will help you stay alive longer than the average noob when you start your first few games.
Hawken is still in beta, but even at this stage it is still a good game once you get into it. However, learning how to play is quite difficult and it will likely take most players an hour or two to get passed the 'constantly dying' stage and become a credit to the team. I honestly wasn't expecting much of Hawken at first, but was pleasantly surprised and am eagerly awaiting the retail release. When that day comes, I'll see you on the battlefield, soldier!