Tom Clancy's HAWX review

  • Multi-layered missions
  • Well-placed checkpoints
  • Suitable for novices or veterans
  • Third-person view may be disorienting
  • Getting blown to bits while admiring the scenery
  • Having a risky move not pay off

One of the hardest missions is Operation Iron Arrow. In it, the enemy has placed a number of jamming stations on the ground in Chicago, which scramble your ERS, but by staying within a certain radius of an AWAC the signal remains clear. Of course, this is more difficult than it sounds when you have to protect the AWAC from enemy aircraft as well as destroy the jamming stations it finds.

These kinds of multi-layer missions where either a slight restriction is placed on where you can fly, or you’re faced with a difficult choice whether to pursue enemies or stay put and protect an ally are the ones that work best.

Others are more straightforward dogfights, but even these manage to look and feel epic in scope, or carry a kick in the teeth right at the end just when you think it’s all over. Operation Glass Hammer is probably the best example of this, with Rio under attack from all angles from fighters, landing craft, tanks and CAS planes, followed by the appearance of some Ace pilots, who prove pretty adept at dodging your missiles until you’re willing to switch Assistance off and try some more advanced aerial moves to take them by surprise.

Even the climax of the first mission, Operation Adder, is pretty testing thanks to the introduction of a few bombers who end your flight career prematurely if just one of them gets through your defences and drops its entire payload on an oil refinery you’re supposed to be protecting.

If all these missions sound a bit taxing and exacting, the checkpoints are superbly spaced and positioned right before the main action begins, so you’ll never get stuck for too long or have to fly looking at scenery for ten minutes. It’s such a simple thing to get right, but you’d be surprised at how games such as Blazing Angels managed to cock up its checkpoint saves and suck the fun out of the game like a deflated Zeppelin.

The online co-op and Team Deathmatch multiplayer mode look to add a whole new dimension to the single-player missions. Now, instead of issuing simple attack or defend commands to two AI wingmen, you can bark more detailed orders over your headset at up to three team-mates and even engage in a little friendly competition to see who can rack up the most kills. Imagine the difference the wingman command system will make to, say, Operation Torchlight; three players could cover the different flight paths the enemy squadrons take, while the remaining player could stay with Air Force One at all times and mop up anything that gets through. If you’re thinking about playing co-op, or even four-on-four Team Deathmatch for that matter, it won’t be half as much fun or as rewarding if you don’t have a headset.

HAWX is exactly what you want from a flight combat game. It’s instantly accessible without pandering to thickies, it leaves it up to the player whether they want to use a more advanced control scheme (but cleverly incorporates the two), and the missions are varied and exciting. Ubisoft Bucharest has obviously learned one hell of a lot from the underwhelming, period dullathon Blazing Angels, making HAWX leaner, meaner and more addictive. It’s our current flight combat game of choice.

Mar 4, 2009

More Info

Release date: Mar 03 2009 - PS3
Mar 17 2009 - PC
Mar 03 2009 - Xbox 360 (US)
Mar 06 2009 - PS3, Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: PS3, PC, Xbox 360
Genre: Flight
Published by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Ubisoft Bucharest , Ubisoft Romania
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Alcohol Reference, Violence, Mild Language
PEGI Rating:


  • grumpybatter - March 10, 2009 12:13 a.m.

    Looks like UBI is posting their own stuff cause Mig-29 for the Sega Genisis consule would rock this on.
  • chester_spartan - March 6, 2009 6:01 p.m.

    I really wish we would have goten another ghost recon but enh this will do............for now
  • erreip199 - March 6, 2009 3:22 p.m.

    A flying combat game that works that isnt star fox?! wow really looking forward to this game!
  • Cwf2008 - March 6, 2009 3:52 a.m.

    Hmm an 8 eh? Well now im just about ready to get it then
  • DEC4D3 - March 17, 2009 12:20 p.m.

    Great Review! Might pick this up but according to the gamesradar review of Ace Combat 6 it is better.. In Australia Ace Combat is still 109 bucks :O.
  • Spybreak8 - March 13, 2009 7:09 p.m.

    I enjoyed the demo, I just don't like the two contrasting views. You're plane is so small when you're in unassisted mode. Good review.
  • samownzsnake - March 10, 2009 8:56 p.m.

    cant w8 for PC release! (dunt have 360 or PS3, sadly)
  • grumpybatter - March 10, 2009 12:10 a.m.

    Rent it First this game seems cartoonish and overly simple not as much a flt. sim. as an arcade shooter. the ground effect is flat although pics look good in stills there is no sense of motion relative to the ground, the "throttle" is on/off climbing at Mach 1.5 yeilds about 100ft/min, If you like flying point to point no airfields(landing/taking off) no idea your about to hit the groung till afterwards enjoy 60$ wasted definitly is the last "new in box" I will ever purchase.
  • Skykid - March 9, 2009 9:17 p.m.

    I'm an Ace Combat & Heatseeker vet myself, so I speak for anyone like me when I say that HAWX is da bomb! @jar-head: AMEN! Thats what I like to hear! P.S. Heatseeker is a modern flight game with good graphics, if ya feel like playing it. :))
  • sprog - March 8, 2009 8:45 p.m.

    As an Ace Combat vet I'll definitely be getting this, nice to have a new IP other than slow arse WWII planes.
  • noobeater - March 8, 2009 5:48 p.m.

    well i remember the original star wars rogue squadron on n64 aint played another flying game since but this review may have just made my mind up =)
  • MagnumPi - March 6, 2009 1:05 a.m.

    I usually hate flying-type games but this is an exception. So great.
  • jar-head - March 5, 2009 11:42 p.m.

    HAWX is the future of PMC, like black water Corp. These pilots get paid hundreds of thousands per mission sake, and is ALMOST ready to launch into the world, we just need more pilots, American mercs who work for patriotic reasons, and some cash....whos ready for the future of warfare?

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