The Tom Clancy series of games seems absolutely endless as they take on many forms from third person action shooters, stealth action, RTS and now the series has taken to the skies with H.A.W.X. This air combat title sees you take a different perspective during the Ghost Recon and End War time period as you are the air cover for the Ghost Recon team and also provide your air skills to defending American soil from a full blown military strike. The plot is quite silly and doesn’t really make much sense when you look more into it, but that lack of plot is forgiven thanks to some brilliant game play especially when in the mode Assistance OFF, which allows you to go a bit crazy with your flying skills.
The plot first starts off in the year 2014; you are a skilled former U.S. Air Force Pilot by the name of David Crenshaw who is now a part of an elite unit called H.A.W.X. (High Altitude Warfare eXperimental squadron) which provides fire support for the Ghost team on the ground in Mexico. Shortly after your first mission in Mexico the Air Force decides to put an end to the H.A.W.X. programme thus putting Crenshaw out of the job. His skills are immediately recognised, however, and he is recruited to the PMC Artemis who apply his skills to carrying out a number of missions protecting and attacking numerous bases and enemies. All goes a bit sour and Artemis and the U.S. government have a falling out over a conflict in Brazil (isn’t that always the case?), which then leads to Artemis and its board members going a bit nuts and attacking the U.S. and you re-join the Air Force to defend your homeland.
The plot is really basic and actually doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as you have to question why the writers of the plot thought a PMC would under any real circumstances pledge a full scale military assault on its fellow countrymen. As far as I could tell it wasn’t run by an evil James Bond-like master villain. H.A.W.X. is set in the sky and that’s really where you should stay if you don’t want to spoil the graphical beauty of the land which you can enjoy when you are quite high up. When you get closer to mother Earth I found myself noticing and cringing at the lack of detail on the ground which was quite disappointing considering the generation of gaming we are in. I wasn’t expecting to see little people waving out their windows at me, but I expected more substance to the landscape as I got closer.
The machines are detailed enough for you to look at them admiringly as you spin around and blow the hell out of the guy who’s been following you and trying to get a missile lock. I mentioned the Assistance OFF mode and this is really when the game starts to shine and becomes the most fun. Instead of the usual cockpit or third person type view you may be familiar with from other games of the same genre, when turning Assistance OFF you take on the view of a kind of spectator as any devices within the machine that will ensure your safety whilst flying are switched off and you are given the freedom to spin, dive and flip your way through an army of enemies. This is usually the best way that I can find of losing the missiles when they have locked on and been fired at you without using your flares.
The multiplayer is fairly basic with an online co-op mode in which you can engage in the campaign missions through online and can also take part in death match and team death match games. It’s a fun game with some excellent game play but is let down by a glaringly ridiculous plot that fails to capture even a single iota of my interest. Some of the missions are a bit tough but easy to get the hang of and overall the game is a worthy addition to any collection.
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