If I was to sum Hardware Online Arena up in four words I think that would be about right. Video games are becoming more and more complex, with so many options and menus that getting the game started can sometimes feel like an accomplishment. When I first played HOA I was like where is the rest of the game, as HOA only features a handful of vehicles and arenas to choose from. And believe it or not, the complete absence of more or less everything one would expect from a PS2 game is HOA greatest strength. No dancing bears or juggling monkeys. Only pure, solid and addictive gameplay.
If you haven’t already figured it out, Hardware Online Arena is an online game for the PS2. No, this is not a game which supports online play, when I said online game that is what I meant. There is a training mode that lets you practice offline against the computer but that is all it is, a training mode. HOA is all about the online play, so if you’re not able to go online with your PS2 then you are probably better off with spending your money on some other game with a stronger offline support.
The game plays much like Twisted Metal. You drive around on 5 different themed arenas in jeeps and tanks hunting down your opponents. You can play a Deathmach or King of the Hill against 15 other players, or on teams (Red Vs Blue), with 8 players on each team. The game also supports headset, which is always a handy feature when you need to tell someone how much you love them. The basic concept of HOA couldn’t be easier but gameplay wise HOA is much deeper. Just driving straight and controlling your gun at the same time can be quite the challenge, but very satisfying once you get the hang of it. It is possible to turn on easy control so you automatically fire in the direction you are driving, but for me that was really never an option.
Also learning what each weapon and power-up do, and where you find them will give a great advantage in battle. What I like most about HOA is how the vehicles behave, especially the Jeeps. Driving around the arenas is great fun, with spectacular jumps and explosions sending your Jeep sky-high. Driving your Jeep is a very dynamic experience to say the least, so be prepared for flips and rolls that will make Destruction Derby seem like a stroll in the park. There really isn’t much more I can say about HOA other than encouraging everybody with a networks adapter to get a copy. This game has already been out for awhile so you won’t have to pay full price either.