The Tom Clancy branch of video games takes yet another unusual turn, now encompassing the much underutilised - console wise - flight sim genre.
Well, calling HAWX a “sim” is a bit of a stretch really. Those of you with a semblance of knowledge of the ridiculously complex flight simulators on the PC platform can be soothed with the knowledge that the controls for HAWX slot quite perfectly on a mere control pad. There’s no need for expansive joysticks here.
This being a Tom Clancy title, you can be guaranteed two things. Firstly, incredibly high production values as proven by the slick introductions for each of your 19 full scale missions which has that unnerving feel of almost mimicking future Sky News bulletins.
Second, there’s a bit of story behind all these flight based killing. As David Crenshaw, you start the game as a hot shot US fighter pilot. But, with a hefty salary offered for talented pilots by the Artemis Global Security network, it doesn’t take long before the big bucks act as a huge part in leaving your country behind.
The tale offered certainly has its attraction due to its many twists and the bravado-packed radio chatter. But, the lack of scripted scenes that added so much soul to GRAW 2 culminates in the feel that there is something lacking here. Chances are you won’t even feel the vaguest hint of connection with your character.
Once in the sky - you don’t have to contend with any take-off or landing - things aren’t too tricky to get to grips with. The game does a good job of introducing the control system as the missions progress, though considering the game is only 19 missions long, a training mission may have been a better starting point.
The left analogue stick controls your direction in which your fighter points, the shoulder buttons control acceleration and braking, with the face buttons firing weapons and flicking between targets.
Things get a touch more complex later on as you get the chance to turn off a large chunk of help and try out some snazzy moves. A double tap of either trigger button will see the camera zoom right out, and allow you to perform much tighter turns and the kind of moves you won’t have seen since Top Gun.
At certain moments, a stab of the X button initiates a path in which to follow to either avoid and oncoming missile, or to make sure you’re perfectly lined up to shoot down another bogey. On the one hand, it’s quite healthy to have such a futuristic offering available to you. But, it does make things a little too easy, even when things start to get truly hectic.
Unfortunately, this excitement doesn’t quite detract from the small pool of mission objectives the game offers up. Though things can (and usually do) change mid-mission, this is your bog standard set of protect, blow up, and “get there quick” aims we’ve all seen a thousand times before.
Equally, though the game offers a wide range of hefty jets to choose from, and various payloads, it always offers up the most blatant choice as the “recommended option”. Which kind of defeats the object of choice, when the best way to complete the mission is made all too blatantly obvious.
Admittedly the graphics are quite pretty in the air, though things do dip in quality once you get closer to ground. And the addition of jump in co-op modes, allowing online gamers to hop into your game at will is certainly a healthy addition to raise the excitement levels a touch. But that still doesn’t detract from the feeling that HAWX should really be much more.
HAWX has more than enough to offer a quite exciting shooter whilst the 19 missions last. Turn off the assists in the latter missions and things can get truly hectic. And the graphics are top notch.
But, there’s certainly something missing. You can’t get any real connection with your character, and the mission objectives undoubtedly lack any true inspiration. Well worth a try, but it definitely won’t be for everyone.