Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tom Clancy's HAWX

For the dogfighting fans and those who like aerial combat games I will try to present a few features of this nice combat flying game from Ubisoft, which is available for multiple platforms including PC and XBOX 360. From the start I would like to say the game does not want to be a flight simulator but more like an arcade or action game so do not expect to have all knobs and switches working in the cockpit, or the systems modeled to the last detail. There is no fuel gauge, no advanced instruments, the player does not even have to take off and land his aircraft, every mission is started in mid air. Even so I can bet you will not be bored with it and it promises a lot of fun during either the single player campaign or in multi player mode. 

The action of the game is happening in year 2012, in a world where the rules of warfare have evolved and the governments become dependent on private military companies. The main character is David Crenshaw, member of an elite unit called H.A.W.X ("High Altitude Warfare eXperimental squadron"), — an ex-military elite pilot who was recruited by one of these corporations to work for them as one of their pilots. Crenshaw later returns to the US Air Force together with his team, fighting against its first employer.

Player can choose from 50 different aircraft models which he can use in the missions, all taking place in real locations modeled to the last detail and using high resolution satellite imagery. One of the strongest points of this game is its graphics. As you can see from the images below, the land details and the amount of 3d objects are amazing. Cities like Rio de Janeiro or Los Angeles are modeled to the little bit of detail and all with photorealistic ground textures.

The aircraft models are themselves very detailed outside. There are also a couple of aircrafts that do not exist in real life, but most of them are modeled, in very high detail, after their real world counterparts. Going inside, the cockpit it is rather basic. Every aircraft has a real looking cockpit but which lacks details or avionics. If you fly from inside you will have to use the same hud on each aircraft.

Main reason for the lack of detail in the cockpit is that H.A.W.X. was designed to be played from outside the aircraft, thanks to the ingenious gamepelay mode implemented in this game, called Enhanced Reality System (ERS), which allows you to fly the aircraft, fight and dodge missiles with accuracy from outside the aircraft, giving you the possibility to enjoy the extremly detailed aircraft models. If you like flying from the cockpit, as I do, that is possible as well but only in an automated sort of way, where it is impossible to endanger the aircraft by stalling, but which also can limit you in combat.

Weapons are also fictional, but the nice part is that you have a lot of ammo at the disposal, especially if you play at the lowest difficulty setting. This will come very handy in the missions, which involve a lot of action and a large number of targets, on air, ground or sea. You will have to do a lot of shooting and dodge the threats to complete the missions objectives. Some of the missions require also a degree of tactical planning, but large part of them is quite linear. The different locations guarantee that you will not get bored. The missions are placed all around the globe from US, to Japan or Brazil. You will have to destroy tanks in the desert, escort the Air Force One, destroy an enemy fleet in Tokyo harbor, or destroy SAM sites placed between skyscrapers in Los Angeles.

If you finished the single player campaign, you can enjoy the multiplayer mode of the game. Players can complete campaign missions in co-op or challenge each other in deathmatch. Wining players are awarded with the possibility to unlock new weapons and items.

Overall I consider this a very nice game to play, with continuous action that keeps you very close to the joystick or keyboard for hours and with very cool graphics.