Tom Clancy games have seen us doing a number of different things over the years. We’ve sneaked around as Sam Fisher, infiltrated urban environments in the Middle East in Ghost Recon and had shoot-outs in casinos in Rainbow Six Vegas. HAWX takes the franchise into the skies as you pull some serious Gs for a company called Artemis in 2014. Of course, during the game it turns out Artemis have greedy plans of their own so you and some of your wingmen turn the tables on them and end up fighting the company that used to pay you big bucks.
This being a console release, don’t expect a flight sim. You won’t be taking off or landing in this game which, for me, is a shame. There’s nothing more satisfying in a flight game than lining up with an aircraft carrier’s runway and not ditching your multi-million aircraft into Davey Jones’s Locker.
After each mission briefing you’re plunged straight into the action as you attack ground and air targets in a pre-emptive strike, or to defend targets on the ground, be it strategic buildings, or your own men having a gunfight with other troops. Of course, this is the future so you’re not flying about in a bi-plane. Jet fighters are the weapon of choice and you’ve got a number of snazzy flashing lights on your HUD to give you the edge.
From a distance you can lock onto enemies and send a missile to greet them with the press of a button, and when you’re in range you can fire your cannons at another reticle which shows where your enemy will be by the time your bullets get there. There’s also a new-fangled widget called ERS. When trying to circle behind an enemy to get a lock-on, this will give you a blue tunnel to fly through which will always get you where you need to be. You can also use this as well as a limited supply of flares to avoid rockets coming towards you.
Visually everything runs at a great pace and, at least when at a high altitude, the ground looks fantastic. As usual, it’s only when you’re skimming the ground you’ll notice some dodgy textures and flat buildings.
The single player campaign will last you about ten hours and you can also jump into co-op games on Xbox Live. There’s also multiplayer dogfights but these usually end up with yourself and a bogey just turning circles round each other until someone finally gets bored, leaves the stalemate and then gets a rocket up their behind. Thankfully, you gain XP points whenever you play in single or multiplayer and these add up to unlock new load-outs and planes to fly.
If you liked Ace Combat you’ll also like this. My problem lies in the fact that most of your enemies are dots on the horizon. Yes, there’s a close-up of your target in the corner but everything still feels a little too detached for me. There’s little depth here and what it ultimately comes down to is an arcade-style game with a Tom Clancy novel-style plot.
It’s good, but I’d only get this if you really like flying. Tom Clancy’s HAWX gets a good 6 out of 10.