Using Graves' stockpiled Rift Energy you can call down defences from an orbiting ship causing buildings to rain down from the sky, slam into the ground and hastily construct themselves. In essence Starhawk presents a third-person hero with an RTS toolset to fend off his foes. This is essentially the game that EA should have made for Command and Conquer five years ago.
You can pull all manner of neat stuff down from the heavens. Communication towers that provide AI controlled allies to fight your cause, walls that hem the tide of enemy assaults, turrets that safeguard particular areas... And as the warfare escalates then 4x4-harbouring Garages and Hawk platforms will inevitably be required.
Missions generally begin with Graves infiltrating a troublespot on his lonesome, and end with him swooping through the skies in missile-toting mechanical bird, above a map littered with AI-warfare and an RTS base of his own design.
The multiplayer aspect utilises a similarly impressive system, where the 'kill to build and build to kill' ethos rings especially true. Every player can hover a green blueprint over a patch of their team's end of the map, and quickly bring down base-building essentials.
You could, say, block off an access route to your flag with a few walls then upgrade one so it becomes a gate that will only accept your side's traffic. Alternatively, with a little more juice, you could bring down a garage complete with a 4x4 for you and your buddies to take on a flag-cap run. This will then allow other team-mates to purchase vehicles from it with hard-fought rift energy.
It's a great system; essentially a streamlined and third person grandson of the all-too-often forgotten Battlezone remake that was released on the PC way back in 1998.
At the moment, however, it also needs a little tweaking every game should end with colossal bouts between Hawks either stomping around like grumpy robots or careening through the skies, but it's easy enough for a griefer to build a maze of walls instead to fill up a team's building quota (of 16) and deny others the fun stuff.
Buildings can, of course, be demolished but developers Lightbox still have a job on their hands to ensure StarHawk's constantly changing playing field is also a constantly level one.
Despite the addition of single-player, it's clear that multiplayer still rules the roost with the developers desperate to throw in every attributable community and gameplay function they can imagine.
Good moderation, great match-making, clans, leaderboards, tournaments, android phone apps that talk directly to what's happening in the game world... It's clear that Sony would dearly love, and perhaps expect, Starhawk to go supernova.
The game's hero and rather contrived back-story don't entirely convince yet but there's little doubt that the game's systems work well and that when you play with the right people, the multiplayer is even more of a hoot than last time round.
What's more, with a 2012 release date planned, we still have ample time to start a polite letter writing campaign pleading for the DLC to be set on earth, called TerraHawk and have a collection of eighties string puppets as playable characters. And, indeed, time for Sony to get around to turning PSN back on...