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Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. Review
developer: Ubisoft Bucharest
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Mar 03, 09 (released)
|» All About Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. on ActionTrip|
Publishers continue to shape the industry to appease mainstream gaming audiences. It's not just that, of course. Somewhere along the line, people just got tired of genres like P&C adventures, flight sim games, etc. Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. is the first air combat game we've seen in a long time. Unlike classic flight sim games, H.A.W.X. focuses on action and not so much on realistic flight physics, tedious flying mechanics and so on.
The game portrays a not-so-distant future, where PMCs (Private Military Companies) continue to gain power. You start off as a pilot, recruited by an influential PMC called Artemis. The world is on the brink of a huge conflict, as Artemis pushes things too far and musters enough strength to launch a full-scale invasion on the United States. This isn't quite the destiny you imagined for yourself and the HAWX squadron. Things heat up from here on and each battle could easily turn the tide of war.
There's something incredibly compelling about Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. and that becomes evident from the very beginning. The most important thing is that it's easy to control planes. The game introduces an impressive variety of modern-day aircraft, each with a unique set of weapons on board and specific flight capabilities. Several factors need to be taken into account before you head out on a mission. During the single-player campaign, the game usually offers a plane best-suited for the upcoming mission. At any time, however, players can make their own choice about which bird to take up into the blue skies. In this case, it's important to consider the aircraft's features such as firepower, speed, armor and handling. You can compare this to the presence of enemy forces or, if you will, the percentage of ground units, flying units and air defenses on the map. Personally, when it comes to planes, I narrowed the choice down to a few favorites - Eurofighter Typhoon, SU-27 Flanker and the F-22 Raptor, of course.
Okay, gamers who appreciated titles like Ace Combat 6 are bound to be interested in this one. Still, H.A.W.X. is somewhat different. It introduces the ERS (Enhances Reality System) and the so-called Assistance Mode. Hardcore flight enthusiasts might object to these additions, because true pilots may not require any assistance during dogfights. Mind you, these features were designed to be fun, so it's basically a good idea to give them a try regardless of your piloting skills. The ERS, for example, offers aircraft interception trajectories, as well as the best and safest route to well-concealed ground targets. The system is very straightforward and we found it to be a great addition to the gameplay.
The main campaign does have certain restrictions. There is a mission specifically designed around the game's ERS mode. While this can be exciting, especially during low-altitude dogfights and flybys, the game simply won't allow you to survive if you switch the ERS off. It just becomes too difficult, as your aircraft is overwhelmed by intense AA fire. Wingmen also do diddly squat to help out. Although such restrictions occurred only in one mission, not having a choice to perform tasks without the EPS was a bit frustrating.
On a general note, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. is a relatively short single-player experience, with 19 missions to go through. That may sound like a lot, but it really doesn't take too long to finish the entire campaign in Normal mode. Still, each mission puts you into a variety of intense battle situations and we came to appreciate Ubisoft's effort to make each task feel unique - different battle situations, diverse targets, unexpected events and so on.
8.3 Very Good
Maps look sweet, cool and exciting single-player missions, a wide selection of planes, altogether quite fun;
Short-ish single-player, wingmen not very helpful.