Tom Clancy-a-thon part 2 – Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X.
Price £20 Publisher Ubisoft Developer Ubisoft Romania
More Hot Shots than Top Gun
With a missile on my tail in the skies above Rio de Janeiro, I execute a perfect manoeuvre. Ramming on my airbrakes, I loop in the air, come face-to-face with my adversary and fire a missile right up his jet nozzle. As glittering shards of plane fall about me, my phone rings. It’s someone called Iceman and he says I can be his wingman anytime. Weird.
Unfortunately, jaw-dropping moments like the one described above are irritatingly few and far between in Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. They do happen, but they’re about as regular as a constipated tramp after a massive Imodium overdose. And when flying 10,000 feet above the air at 1,000 kilometres per hour becomes boring, you know something’s up.
H.A.W.X. is set in that near-future fictional place where everyone’s a gruff-voiced, ultra-serious man. A place where nothing bad ever happens on US soil and triumphant, jingoistic music plays constantly. Yes, we’re in the realm of ClancyLand, a place just as fantastical as Middle Earth or Lapland.
All is not well in ClancyLand, however. There’s a problem with these wars of tomorrow, in that everything is so technically advanced there’s little for meagre humans to do. This is all very well for supporting the covert ops of Splinter Cell, but in H.A.W.X. it means you’re thrust into an ‘enhanced reality system’, which pinpoints every target with floating icons. It’s designed to make the taxing business of flying a plane easier, but in reality it just relegates your piloting skill to steering and pulling the trigger. It’s a bit like being an inner-city bus driver.
Later in the game, this “enhanced reality system” is removed, leaving you to flail wildly around the sky like a one-winged pigeon. It feels slightly more like you’re engaging with the game, but the ridiculously inept camera, which insists on locking on your next target, makes it next to impossible to control.
The problems with the game don’t end there – Tom Clancy and company seem to have no sense of scale. The sat-mapped ground looks good from a distance, but once you get closer it becomes apparent that your plane is the size of a small village.
Multiplayer is also a let down. Dave and I went head-to-head, but spent most of our time lining up our jets to get a decent shot at each other. When we finally got a missile on target it seemed to be down to pot luck rather than actual skill. It’s probably better with more players, but you’ve got to be extremely dedictated to get that far…
There’s definitely room in the market for a GRID-style flight sim: one that mixes adrenaline-fuelled arcardey thrills with just enough technical expertise to keep the hardcore happy. H.A.W.X. isn’t it. Our advice: dig out After Burner and Desert Strike instead. They may be ancient, but they’re more fun than H.A.W.X.
+ Occasionally thrilling…
- …but mostly boring
- Weird scale
- ClancyLand (TM)
The gaming equivalent of Flight 1549: starts well then mercilessly plops into the Hudson River of bad flight sims
Needs: 2GHz CPU, 1GB RAM, 256MB SM3.0 card
Wants: 2.6GHz CPU, 2GB RAM, 512MB SM4.0 card
PCF’s Tom Clancy-a-thon concludes with details of BorX, a near-future epic in development at HenriSoft
on Monday, April 20th, 2009 at 3:01 pm under PC Format Archive.
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