The plot is set somewhere in between the events of Ghost Recon 2 and EndWar, though they have little influence. Swayed by the big-bucks of lavish security firm Artemis you quickly wave your goodbyes to the tight-fisted US government and take to the skies as a hired gun. Naturally, you soon discover that being a highly-paid military machine isn't all it's cracked up to be, especially when you're employed by a creepy megalomaniac.
There are 19 missions in HAWX's campaign, each playable on three different difficulty settings. A co-operative mode also allows up to four players to tackle the missions online.
Surprisingly well told story.Going into HAWX, we forgot about the mega-bucks Tom Clancy franchise and expected no story at all. What we found was a pleasantly engrossing tale of military units and shareholders. It's complete fantasy but, like a £0.99 paperback, is totally addictive. The story unfolds through a series of mission briefings and realtime updates. The way HAWX changes the objectives while you're playing keeps you engrossed and the pace flowing. Unfortunately, your team mates have a habit of repeating the same phrases from time to time, but this is a minor niggle.
At times HAWX will make you feel like Tom Cruise in Top Gun. It's so satisfying getting a missile lock at just the right time and subsequently watching your enemies' aircraft burn. As the game is not a sim, the controls and weaponry are quite easy to get to grips with. A new mechanic called the "Enhanced Reality System" draws an optimised flight path on the screen, allowing you to get in and behind the opponent for an easy kill. By somewhat stripping down the difficulty, Ubisoft have created a game that allows you to focus on the action as opposed to keeping your plane in the air. That's not to say that aircraft purists won't get a kick out of HAWX, the harder difficulties provide more than enough of a challenge.
For every bit of progress you make in HAWX, the game rewards you. Like CoD4 you earn XP for every kill you make. These are added up at the end of a mission and your "rank" is updated accordingly. With every rank you go through there are new planes and weapons to be unlocked so it's worth doing. You can also increase your rank quicker by completing certain challenges. These range from tasks such as destroying 6 ground units with one bomb. There are 40-levels in total, which should take you 20-hours or so to complete, depending on your ability.
The co-op mode in HAWX takes the single-player campaign and improves it. You can quickly jump into a four-player match from the start screen, all of which are slightly tweaked versions of the missions found in the campaign. Depending on how many players are in the game results in a different number of enemies to deal with. The increased number of units will take teamwork and communication to defeat and thus it becomes a really satisfying way to play the game.
Despite being an arcade-style military shooter, HAWX rarely packs the kind of adrenaline rush you'd associate with this type of game. Sure, some of the missions can become rather intense but, you never find yourself speeding from target to target, letting rip when you reach them before jetting off to the next objective. It's quite a laid-back, slow game, with much of your time spent holding the R2 button and waiting until you're close enough to get a lock onto the next target. The game fails to create a sense of urgency, despite its high-tempo music and countdown objectives.
From high altitudes, HAWX looks amazing. The game uses satellite imagery to create the canvas for the land below. This looks awesome... until you get close to it. At low altitude, the ground just looks rough. The developer's have tried to offset the flat looking ground by incorporating some polygonal buildings and shrubbery. These don't really help matters due to their simplistic nature. We also found the plane models to be a little bland. While we're a long-way away from being Air Force experts, we found the aircrafts lacked any real detail, a shame given the games proud number of licenses.
After the first few missions, you begin to wonder what kind of variations will be incorporated into HAWX's core-structure. Sadly there are very little. Of the 19-missions, most task you protecting a particular element, be they the president's aircraft or ground forces. It's fine the first couple of times you repeat an objective but, as you close into the latter stages of the game you'll be feeling a little burnt out on the formula.
HAWX has some slight technical issues which occur irrespective of the on-screen action. Numerous times throughout the campaign we found our screen freezing and the sound glitching into an awful squeal. The loading times are also relatively long, despite a 5GB install.
HAWX includes a YouTube Video Upload feature, as demonstrated here:
Tom Clancy's HAWX should provide military zealots with more than enough content to justify a purchase. For everyone else, HAWX is a competent arcade shooter which treads a thin line between fun and repetitive.
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