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Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. Preview
developer: Ubisoft Bucharest
PIV 2000, 1GB RAM, 7GB HDD, 128MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Mar 03, 09 (released)
|» All About Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. on ActionTrip|
We don't see many air combat games on the market these days and I honestly don't know if anybody's still actually into those classic flight sim. games. The famed Ace Combat series is okay. I've played the latest installment -- Ace Combat 6 -- and I must say it has all the essentials of a decent arcadish-flavored flight game. According to some fans, however, the series could use brightening up and the same thing can be said about the genre as well. Hopefully, the diligent folks at Ubisoft are going to add some spark to what is otherwise a somewhat decaying genre.
The recently announced aerial combat game Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. is currently in development for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. Apart from being the first air combat game to utilize the Tom Clancy universe, it also has a few neat ingredients that could deliver an exciting experience for players.
The game is set in the year 2010, putting players into a world that has become increasingly dependant on PMCs (Private Military Companies). As the PMCs continue to gain power, the entire world stands on the brink of a massive conflict. Eventually, these PMCs have gathered enough strength to launch attack the US. As expected, you'll be getting into the boots of a pilot (duh!), who gets a chance to try out the new, incredibly powerful and technologically enhanced jet fighters to counter this new threat.
One of the main features of HAWX is the ERS - Enhanced Reality System, if you will. The system is one of the key aspects of the gameplay, because it makes way for stuff like aircraft interception trajectories, incoming missile detection, anti-crash system, damage assessment, weapons trajectory control and the tactical map. So, basically, it lends a hand during flight. Another important factor is using the ERS to issue orders to the squadron and other units (we have to see how that works). Ubisoft made it clear that this particular system is as important to HAWX as the Cross-Com system is to Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter.
At any rate, the reportedly very handy assistance mode provides "a level of comfort" to gamers who aren't all that versed with aircraft maneuvering. Using assistance is there to literarily save your skin in case you get into serious trouble. It also limits the movement of your plane to prevent it from stalling (God knows I need that many times in Ace Combat). Of course, it is also said that even those who have had some experience with air combat games should often resort to using this particular mode. For example, when you're flying above dense urban areas, it will be very difficult making out specific targets on the ground. The ERS comes in will make this maneuver a whole lot easier. The best part is that switching the assistance on and off will be very intuitive and easy to pull off during gameplay. You may not want to keep the assistance on at all times, even if you are a rookie pilot. Quite simple, when you turn it off, you'll be able to accomplish a variety of cool-looking dogfighting maneuvers. Sure it's more risky that way, but ultimately, well worth the effort.
As for the multiplayer, Ubisoft says the game will feature a huge campaign that can be experienced with the seamless jump in/jump out functionality. There's a PVP mode in there as well, allowing players to challenge each other in "intense dog-fighting sessions and find out who's the top gun." Players that emerge victorious are given experience points and cash to unlock additional weapons.
We're not entirely sure how Ubisoft means to make the distinction between a serious flight sim and more of an arcade-style air combat game. It's obvious that in that sense, the ERS plays a key role. According to the developers, the system is fairly straightforward, but we are curious if it's going to be enough to keep players occupied. Also, we found that accenting the plot certainly pays off for an aerial combat game and titles like Ace Combat 6 are good example for that.
On the positive side of things, the game looks very nice even at this early stage (judging from the screens, at least). Unlike Ace Combat 6, HAWX will give you a chance to fly over photo-realistic depictions of real-life locations, which were recreated using "the best commercial satellite data on the civilian market." (Swanky.) Similarly, there's going to be 50 different realistic-looking aircrafts to choose from.
If all goes well, the genre of air combat games could finally see decent revival with Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
Gameplay are promising and so are the visuals.
The assistance mode may not turn out to be as intuitive as they say and could easily backfire, instead adding a much needed boost of creativity to the genre.
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