War Hawk (Atari 8-bit)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  Wurtzly (1072)
Written on  :  May 03, 2014
Platform  :  Atari 8-bit
Rating  :  3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars
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Angry button smashing at its most frantic

The Good

The graphics is a bit simpler than the other versions. It displays the basic hardware resources of the 8-bit Atari systems, like player/missile objects, colorful rasterbar and flashing effects, horizontal scrolling, and such. This makes it look archaic, but it works smoothly. The backdrop, albeit a little boring, is more detailed than the moving objects and has some minimal parallax effect going on some of the tiles. It is arguable whether the game looks good or not, but it's reasonably well crafted.

For the music, Rob Hubbard did wonders once again! The title tune is rushing, grinding, crying, panicking like there will be no tomorrow left, some of the percussion sounds like laser shots and explosions. It's lighter and shorter than the C64 original, but it's also easier on the ears. There is no music during gameplay this time and for the better, because on C64 the priorities between music and sound effects were pretty badly determined. The constant shots, crashes, and explosions make busy enough aural stimulation here.

A typical round of play may go like this. At the start of each level there is a battle call that sounds like loud deep humming of a motorbike powered by rage.

Some enemies even turn towards you and attack from the side, and/or leave missiles. It's hard to hit anything, so you keep angrily punching the fire button all the time to stand a chance. Sometimes destructible background objects adsorb your fire, and there are also waves of indestructible objects (meteors or mines?) to dodge. Given are only one life and lengthy health bar. At the end of each level, instead of a massive boss, you are facing a whole bunch of space trash that is gravitating towards you from all sides, and you have to maneuver appropriately to be able to shoot them.

If you survive long enough, a power-up starts to appear at later levels. Certain enemy ships leave it behind when they explode. It looks like a short ladder and it moves. Be careful not to destroy it. When you pick it up, your speed and firing rate increases like insane! You become Rambo, an unstoppable force, the most lethal weapon around! Everything should fear you... until the power-up expires, and you become the punching bag of the galaxy again.

And then, sooner or later, YOU DIE! It is inevitable, as there is no end to this game. The health bar drops to zero, your ship explodes, and all of the sudden, the constant noise and movement turns into a deep dark silence. But the destruction of your vessel doesn't sound like an explosion, it's more like the sound of your brain being sucked out of your skull and disintegrating. And you are left there empty and powerless in the void...

The Bad

Reading it up thus far you might have figured out that it's mindless and muscle brained. Not to mention repetitive. 10 levels of the same old enemy formations, and backgrounds composed of the same old space and tiles background, then loops to level one. All that changes is that the enemies get faster and the tiles are in different color combinations on each level. Not a very thoughtful design.

You finger or your arm will probably hurt after playing, and your joystick might wear down (unless you have autofire).

The Bottom Line

A primitive budget space shooter that doesn't keep you for long. But while it does, it serves very frantic action, adrenaline, and stress relief.