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GAME PREVIEW: Revamped `Warhawk' returns

"Warhawk." Format: PlayStation 3. Style: Multiplayer action (up to 32-player via PlayStation Network). Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment. Developer: Incognito. Release: Fall.

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There have been plenty of rumors flying around about "Warhawk" ever since its debut last May at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Sony is putting some of them to rest now; "Warhawk" has been announced as an exclusively online multiplayer game. Absolutely no single-player campaign will be included.

What Sony still hasn't decided on, however, is if the game will be released in retail stores or if it will only be available exclusively via download from the PlayStation Store. Either way, we got some good hands-on time with the latest iteration of the highly anticipated PlayStation 3 title.

The one multiplayer mode we played took place in a bombed-out city with plenty of room for driving and flying vehicles. Players can fully customize the look of their character for competition online. More than 20 weapons are available to choose from, including machine guns, rocket launchers and flamethrowers. Additionally, players can man several different kinds of turrets placed in strategic locations to get a leg up on other soldiers or even against a tank.

Ground and air vehicles are spread around the bases, ripe for the taking. Those looking for a speedy ride can jump in a jeep with buddy riding in the back handling turret duties. Others hungry for sheer firepower may go for the tank. To take to the skies, soldiers can choose from two aircraft, the warhawk or nemesis. While in the air, players can unleash homing missiles, electric blasts, remote controlled missiles and even try some sneaky cloaked maneuvers. The PlayStation 3's motion-sensing controls are optional on all vehicle types, so you can turn it off for jeeps or on for planes, for example. Both control options work relatively smoothly, and transitioning in and out of vehicles is seamless.

The final game will include 25 maps and standard multiplayer modes such as team deathmatch, capture the flag and territories. A unique mode called Zone encourages players to control more of the map to earn more resources.

Soldiers will be rewarded for their skills. Loads of achievable rewards, badges, medals, ribbons and rankings will help let the world know about your mad skills. And just because "Warhawk" is multiplayer exclusive doesn't mean you can't share a match on the same PS3 with a friend. All he or she has to do is hit the start button with an extra controller any time during the middle of a match and the screen will immediately split to accommodate both of you.

"Warhawk's" lack of single-player may be a disappointment to some fans of the original PlayStation game, but hopefully the focus on multiplayer will help the game be the best that it can be. We'll definitely keep an eye on this one as it progresses.

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