It's not every day that a game takes two genres and mashes them up, like zombie survival horror and romantic comedy. Sci -fi westerns is one of those rare genres, and except for games like Borderlands, you really don't see a whole lot of gunslingers out in the 'Verse. Enter Starhawk, a game that not only does a good job with this unique theme, but offers up a combination of game genres in a package that's fun to play. Sadly though, its single player story is nowhere near the caliber of its multiplayer.
Starhawk is set in the far future, where humanity now travels the stars with the help of Rift energy, a dangerous but valuable substance that can turn you into a mindless mutant if you're not careful. You play as a mercenary named Emmett, who travels the galaxy helping Rift miners defend their claims against the Rift-warped mutants. Emmett takes a job that brings him home to the mining colony of White Sands, which is under attack by a mutant known as the Outlaw. Turns out the Outlaw's a bit smarter than the average mutant, and has been organizing raiding parties against White Sands, aiming to destroy their mining operations before they can reach an important mining quota.
Starhawk is a third person shooter mixed in with tower defense elements and moments of arcade-style flight simulation. Throughout the missions, you'll be airdropping in various structures like bunkers, turrets and vehicle depots to defend White Sands, or flying around engaging in some aerial or ground combat with massive transforming mechs called Hawks. While the mix of game genres may at first seem weird or daunting, Starhawk does a good job with streamlined and simple controls. If you've played any other third-person shooters before you'll be able to pick the controls up fairly easily, and when it comes to building structures, you can summon them with the push of a few buttons.
However, while Starhawk's mechanics are sound, the story that accompanies them comes across as generic sci-fi b-movie fare. There's a fair amount of mediocre voice acting and exaggerated dialogue from the characters you meet, and Emmett himself comes across as a stereotypical gruff anti-hero. What big reveals or plot twists are in the story there can be seen a mile away, and most often missions revolve around similar objectives of defending an area against waves of enemies for a set amount of time. The single player is an extended tutorial for Starhawk's multiplayer component, which is a far more enjoyable an experience.