The Clancy war machine finally lets us get our wings in a flap
Mr Clancy and his friends at games maker Ubisoft are nothing if not industrious.
With several successful game franchises already under their collective belt – including Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six – recent months have seen the release of not one but two brand new Clancy-based titles. Endwar went down the strategy route, but Hawx takes the action to the skies in a heat haze of jet fuel and missile burn.
The game puts the player into the cockpit of around 50 state-of-the-art licensed aircraft, flying missions over 3D recreations of satellite-mapped cities and locations. Don’t expect Hawx to provide you with anything approaching the realism or authenticity of a flight simulation (see our Black Shark review for that).
This is pure arcade combat fun and any technical accuracy you’ll encounter is barely even skin deep.
Like many Clancy titles, Hawx is set in a fictional near-future, which provides the opportunity for some vaguely controversial political 'what if' themes to be played out. After your first mission, for instance, you and your soon-to-be-decommissioned squadron of US Navy top guns resort to signing up with a 'private military company', Artemis Global Security, in order to avoid the dole queue.
From this point on, you find yourself acting as air support on a variety of missions, usually involving outsourced military support for Artemis’s rich clients; defending a Middle Eastern oil field from attack, for example. There are a couple of interesting twists in the otherwise flimsy tale that ties missions together, but basically it’s all just an excuse for a giddy slice of intense aerial combat.
Visceral and thrilling though it frequently was, Hawx fell some way short of delivering a fully-rounded or fulfilling experience. Controls and wingman commands were pretty basic (especially for those used to full-on flight sims), and missions got a little samey after a while. Similarly, graphics and presentation looked pretty impressive at first, but fly too close to the buildings and landmarks below and you’ll soon notice that detail is – pardon the pun – pretty thin on the ground.
Despite all that, Hawx is actually one of the better games of its kind, largely by dint of the fact that there aren’t very many combat flight titles available for the PC.
PEGI age rating: 12+
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Hawx is one of the better games of its kind
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