GC 2008: Tom Clancy's HAWX Preview
Written Sunday, September 21, 2008 By Dan WebbView author's profile
HAWX is the newest franchise in the Ubisoft catalogue to get the Tom Clancy name tagged on to it. Unlike any title under the Clancy name, HAWX takes the combat to the skies as you take control of a series of jet aircrafts and get involved in a number of military related objectives and missions. The console market isn’t really blessed with many dog fight games such as HAWX, the exception being the generally well received Ace Combat 6 and it’s generally safe to say it’s a niche audience.
Let me set the scene ... You’re stationed in the Middle East and your objective is to protect an important industrial estate from the impending waves of enemy artillery and jets planes that are approaching fast. At first the action is slow and it’s a good job as well, as it took us a while to get to grips with the controls. The first few minutes definitely felt like a chore and any sort of sense of direction was a distant dream, but after a few minutes though, you adjust and start to wonder what the problem was in the first place. Using your left and right trigger to control your rudders, and combined with the tilting of the analogue sticks, moving your jet isn’t too much of a chore. It’s more a matter of practice than anything because after ten minutes, it’s more instinctive and you’re worrying more about the combat.
The combat is ridiculously simple allowing you to change weapons with one button and fire with the other. In order to lock on to a target, you simply need to be close enough to them and keep them relatively close to your cross hair for a few seconds until the reticule goes solid red. When it does, a tap of the fire button will unleash one of your homing missiles on to your foes. A couple of direct hits and they’ll be eating sand in a matter of minutes. Other than the usual missiles, we got to use the canons and each were easy enough to use as we took down vehicles ranging from tanks to heavily armoured jets.
Of course, you’re not going to be in for an easy ride all the time, the level we experienced (level 2) was quite early on in the game and the action was even quite fast and hectic for such an early stage. When a foe locks on to you while you go about your business, there are a few ways to escape it; you can drop flares (you have a limited amount though) or my favourite, you can perform a loop and watch the missile fly off in to the distance as you turn upside down. Pretty simple, but a necessity as you are not entirely invulnerable yourself, taking only a few missiles before it’s you that is nestled in the sand.
HAWX offers the players many perspectives to play the game from, ranging from being in the cockpit to the possibly the more traditional and easier third person perspective. Being in the third person perspective allows you to really take in the crisp visuals that are on offer. The surrounding environments are really impressive, as well as the jets themselves and add a great level of realism to the title. Moving across 3 major US cities as well as the Middle East, we hope that HAWX can take the fancy visuals to a new level when they are finally fully unveiled.
There is definitely the Tom Clancy tactical aspect in the title which ranges from how you go about your objectives to what order you take them down in, and this sort of tactical aspect is a necessity if HAWX is going to be a decent tribute to the Tom Clancy name. In good traditional sense with the Tom Clancy name comes plenty of genuine military technology, featuring about 50 different jets in the final version of the title, 5 of which were on show at the Games Convention.
HAWX also features many game modes that will be able to get you and your friends playing together with 4 player co-op with drop in/drop out features and even a one-on-one dogfight mode where you must wipe your opponent out are amongst the final game modes.
All in all, HAWX looks to be shaping up to be a great tactical, action orientated flight combat title and definitely has what it takes to make Ace Combat take a back seat in this genre. Chances are it won’t appeal to every gamer out there, but it is a hell of a lot of fun and if you can look past the first few minutes of your experience as you get to grips with the controls, we’re sure you could get hours of fun out of the title... especially with the 4 player co-op. We’re hoping that Ubisoft can take the title from strength to strength from here on out, but initial signs are positive.
HAWX is set for an early 2009 release on the Xbox 360, PS3 and for Windows.