Tom Clancy has got to be tired of his name being thrown around so much by Ubisoft. Ever since they acquired the license name, it’s been everything from Tom Clancy’s Laundry Cleaning to Tom Clancy’s Breadmaking. The latest in the series of name exploitation is Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X, which as you may expect only has an X in it because the developers think it’ll sell better.
HAWX’s basic premise is extremely simple. Much like the Ace Combat series of games, it puts you in an airplane and lets you attack a series of different targets in a way that is more exciting than it sounds. You essentially dogfight with airplanes until you can lock onto them with joint-strike missiles that can then take them right out of the sky.
This is exactly where HAWX shines – it demonstrates a level of competency in air fights that few other games ever have. The ability to turn off the “assistance” system and turn the plane on a dime is incredibly enticing. During the most extreme dogfights, you’ll have to flip the plane around 180 degrees all the while dodging two or three missiles. If that sounds exciting, that’s because it is as exciting as it sounds.
The missiles and the machine guns on the plane all work competently and add to the experience greatly. While you’ll be spending most of your time waiting for that steady beeping noise that indicates a successful missile lock-on. The machine guns are practically useless, as they are far too challenging to actually be of use in a fight.
The plane variety is incredible and you’ll be flying things you probably have never heard of before in environments that are exciting and new – like places in Brazil that only people like myself who have actually been there have ever heard of.
The story is about a PMC, otherwise known as a private military corporation. Like most PMC tales, this one is geared towards making you think that PMCs are basically guns for hire with no conscience whatsoever. The story is also presented to you in-between the story missions.
Let me be clear about the story – it is throwaway at best. You won’t care about a word they are saying because the gameplay will be more than enough to be interesting and fun. Furthermore, considering that companies like Blackwater are by and large being talked about less and less, the story is also less like a “ripped from today’s headlines” story and more of a “ripped from the headlines of yesterday” story.
The planes themselves are lovingly crafted to show off just how much effort Ubisoft put into making them and keeping them true to their original models. In the air, their design is incredibly nice and the amount of detail that went into crafting the engine parts and the special parts of the wings is particularly great.
On the textures side of the equation, on the ground, you’re not going to get too much detail. The ground itself looks quasi-lo-res, and rightfully so, as you’ll be spending very little time looking at it. The other vehicles that you fly beside and fight also look great. The good part about the graphics on the ground level is the fact that they include three dimensional buildings that you can actually crash into, unlike most simulators that just flatten buildings into the landscape, hoping you won’t notice.
Ultimately, HAWX is a game that is worth your money if you’re into the whole air-simulation thing. I had never played a combat game quite like this, and it’s fun for a week-long rental as opposed to buying the game. The multiplayer is a little too difficult thanks in part to people who play ridiculous amounts of the game. Overall, it’s worth your time if it’s interested you even a small amount.