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State Of Free-to-play: Hawken

This weekend's highlight is pacey mech FPS Hawken

Welcome back to our semi-regular feature that takes a look at the free-to-play world and highlights something interesting going on for you to get involved in this weekend.

This week our attention is grabbed by giant robots or mechs in the shape of Adhesive Games impressive shooter Hawken.

Hawken combines the pace and excitement for a multiplayer FPS with the epic scale of mech combat into what is a rather stunning free-to-play package. State Of Free-to-play: Hawken

Adhesive Games has built Hawken using the Unreal Engine 3 on top of the Unreal Tournament framework that is bundled free with the UDK as an example for how to use the game engine.

This has proven to be a very smart move as, while Unreal Tournament's brand of fast-paced action has fallen by the wayside in recent times the action adapts very nicely to the new faster style of mech combat that Adhesive Games was aiming for when they came up with the concept for Hawken.

The result is an amazingly fast, free-flowing mech combat game with some pretty damned spectacular visuals.

There's a great range of mechs available for players to suit all kinds of play styles from those that love big guns to fast moving recon mechs and even folks who like to sit back and provide assistance to their teammates in the form of the Engineer mech. State Of Free-to-play: Hawken

As well as a vast array of different mechs to choose from there's also a great array of ways to customise your own mechs from different paint and camouflage schemes to differently-styled armour modules and upgrades to improve things like cooling time or rate of fire. There's even some bonus gear that will allow you to drop a force shield around a specific area for a short time or boost yourself out of a dangerous position.

Adhesive Games have also been employing some interesting ideas in map design with plenty of verticality employed in Hawken's maps. They've also introduced a the odd triangular map which provides another interesting variation in play over the standard square and rectangular maps employed everywhere else.

Hawken isn't a cruel game that forces players into brutal PvP annihilation straight away though. New players are take through a comprehensive VR Training turorial which teaches the basics from moving and shooting to using special abilities and advanced items. It also allows players to earn their very first mech to use in the big bad world.

It is not a free-to-play game that is overly invasive with the microtransactions either and playing the game gives you the best rewards. All mechs can be unlocked simply by playing the game and earning credits but you can short-cut this a bit by buying additional credit yo purchase new mechs and other items. State Of Free-to-play: Hawken

This is probably one of the better aspects of Hawken especially whe measured up against other free-to-play titles. The microtransactions are there if you want them but they aren't thrust right in your face and everything is there to be earned by playing rather than having some content walled off to gamers willing to shell out the cash.

That's all very well and good I hear you say but why try Hawken this weekend? That's simple. This weekend Adhesive Games are offering double-XP to anyone who plays. It's a great way to jump in and actually learn what the game is about and make significant progress.

The Double XP weekend begins today at 7pm GMT(noon PDT) and ends on Monday at 7pm GMT (again that's noon PDT). XP boosts can be bought and used as well and will work on top of the double XP weekend bonus allowing players to earn up to four times the normal XP.

Hawken is not a demanding free-to-play game and I've been playing on an Intel Core2 Duo 1.86 Ghz with 4GB of RAM and a Radeon HD 4550 GPU with 512MB of VRAM running Windows 7 64-bit.