After an impressive series of titles under the Tom Clancy name embroidered with Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell, Ubisoft had a lot of thinking to do and were left to wonder how new ideas can be brought in without just churning out sequel after sequel. After seeing the completely new path Tom Clancy games could be taken down in the form of Endwar, people were optimistic about future titles including H.A.W.X (High-Altitude Warfare Experimental). Based on the squadron for air support of the Ghost Recon team, H.A.W.X takes players on a whirlwind of realistic airfare combat across beautiful scenery. Although some gameplay aspects vary in their quality, H.A.W.X does well to deliver a great air combat title.
For any game where vehicles are the main gameplay element, controls are a massive part of whether the game can be enjoyable and easy to grasp or frustrating and annoying, luckily H.A.W.X. falls into the former and while turning the flight assistance off can please veterens of flight games, turning it on can help any newcomers get a feel of the controls and ease them gently into the experience without making it too easy. H.A.W.X is definitely a game that falls into the category of easy to learn and difficult to master, catering to all levels of players and makes the game much more accessible to a wider audience.
Unfortunately, this causes a problem as in missions when there are a lot of enemies around you. The game requires a various amount of manouveurs which are more limited than realistic airfare due to some stats having certain instabilities as a result of too many daring moves that players might try and be subject to. Oddly enough, the presumptous maneuvers which are needed to make defeating a majority of the enemies possible need to be mastered which means spending a lot of time practicing. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but does serve to confuse some players on what initiative to take: learning the moves repeatedly or trying to complete the objective.
Unremittingly, the rest of your H.A.W.X. squadron are very efficient at destroying enemies and targets which makes it feel like you are part of a very highly trained team rather than the one man army job that many other games set the scene with. The E.R.S. system which displays the map, any incoming threats, weapons and the ability to command your squadron gives you all the tools to become an expert pilot even if you have never experienced a flight game before which is definitely a brilliant part of the game design system in relation to the reality of the storyline as well in all its simplicity: you are part of an elite squad helping to take down major dangerous zones in the region for the Ghost team to explore.
The visuals for H.A.W.X are not overly amazing, but do please the eye in similarity to other Tom Clancy games. The environments look realistic, and are taken from satellite imagery obtained from resource networks. The mapping is intense, and the feeling of flight is definitely heightened as a result of soaring to the sun and immediately down whilst swooping through huge lands with additional motion blur that adds to the overall cinematic gameplay.
Multiplayer in H.A.W.X is essentially very similar to the single-player game. For the first time ever in an Ubisoft flight game, cooperative gameplay jumping to the storymode and taking out enemies seamlessly is an option. There is a lot of potential in PVP mode where players can challenge up to 15 friends in intense sessions. After winning, stats are totalled and winning players are rewarded with experience points and money to unlock more weapons. There is an incredible amount of opportunity for making friends in the sky with access to full environments and intense combat action that results from headset gameplay with just the right amount of chaos. H.A.W.X does multiplayer simple, but it does so on an amazing plane of scope and replayability.
H.A.W.X remains to be the first new Tom Clancy title that Ubisoft has skillfully put out, rather than the current trend of numerous sequels. H.A.W.X delivers just the rush of air combat that any airfare loving war genre person will love to experience, especially if they never sat in a jet themselves. You have to be ready to take the challenge, and head to the skies knowing it will not be easy. Even though the experience will be far from simple, H.A.W.X will take players on intense missions, with friends or without, and still make it seem rambunctiously entertaining.