Warhawk is the first killer game for the PS3

I spent a sizable portion of the labor day weekend loafing on my new couch playing Warhawk, which was released exclusively for the PlayStation 3 last week. Despite a few rough edges in the menus and the server browser, I can say with confidence that this is the first must-have game for the PS3.

At first glance, Warhawk doesn't sound like anything particularly new or special. It's a multiplayer-only third-person shooter with vehicles. Like just about every other multiplayer FPS/3PS, it has a variety of game types including deathmatch, capture the flag, "zones" (which is a lot like onslaught in Unreal Tournament 2004), etc. What makes Warhawk special is how beautifully these now-commonplace game elements are combined to provide one hell of a kickass experience. Think Halo but with better vehicles, prettier graphics, more thrilling combat, and absolutely amazing sound effects in THX-certified surround sound.

It's hard to describe the sheer awesomeness of the gameplay without actually showing it to someone firsthand. There's something viscerally thrilling about it. Imagine diving into a dense aerial dogfight, blowing someone out of the sky, and dodging several enemy missiles as you realize you're out of ammo. You swoop in for an emergency landing and jump out of your aircraft just as it's blown to bits by enemy fire. While your opponent circles around for a strafing run, you leap into a nearby anti-aircraft cannon and pepper the sky with flak. The enemy plane bursts into flames and explodes, shrapnel whistling past your ears, missing you by mere feet. The body of the dead pilot smacks into a hillside and slides down the hill. Another enemy aircraft rockets overhead. You take aim...

See what I mean? I'm not making this up, either. That shit actually happened. I love this game.