Birds of play

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The list of decent PlayStation 3 games grew a little bit longer this week with the release of Warhawk (by Incognito Entertainment, distributed by Sony Computer Entertainment), a slick third-person shooter that is also the subject of an interesting distribution experiment: The game can be purchased as an online download for $39.99, in addition to being available in stores for the regular PS3 game price of $59.99 (for the extra Jackson, you get a Bluetooth headset and some "additional video content" on the disc). It's a pretty ingenious pricing scheme—it does away with the $10 price premium on "next generation" games that began when the Xbox 360 was released in November 2005, while the simultaneous retail release helps remove the stigma of slightness surrounding downloadable games on consoles.Digital-rights management issues that are way too complicated to explain easily (click here for further details) may make the disc version a better buy for people who share their PS3 with housemates, and if you don't own a Bluetooth headset (or are tired of the hassle of sharing one with your cell phone and your PS3), the retail version is a good buy if you have any interest whatsoever in online multiplayer games on the PS3.

As for Warhawk itself, it's a very entertaining multiplayer-only fragfest that plays like a looser, more action/less strategy version of the beloved Battlefield games. All your standard shooter game types are present (deathmatch, capture the flag, etc.), all of them made more fun than usual by the ultraentertaining use of combat vehicles (jets and tanks in particular). If you're a PS3 owner with some hours to kill over the long weekend, it's definitely worth checking out (but don't come crying to us if it sucks up a lot more of your time than you thought it would...).

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