HAWX stands for High Altitude Warfare – Experimental, which basically gives the player licence to take to the skies in state-of-the-art military airplanes for some high octane aerial dogfights, which in reality are probably more Top Gun than Tom Clancy. Playing as ace flyboy Major David Crenshaw, following a spell around the US Mexico border, you’re quickly tapped up by Artemis Global Security, where you take up a position as a mercenary pilot. However, after an altercation with the US military, Crenshaw foregoes the blood money in favour of a return to his patriotic roots, defending the skies against the enemies of the Uncle Sam.
If this all sounds a little too political for your tastes, fear not, as Crenshaw’s allegiances are merely a by-the-way, and the game’s real strength is in the quality of the combat, whether you’re defending ground forces (including the Ghost Recon team) from assault, or taking out enemy planes in the skies. The graphics are reasonably good, with the planes rendered in minute detail, although the ground scenery does get a little blocky if you get too close (i.e. crash). The controls are simple enough to get the hang of, even for rookie pilots, with the Enhanced Reality System making even the toughest of assignments extremely manageable: basically, the game throws a series of air-gates in front of you and if you fly through them, it allows you to achieve your goal, whether that be catching up with a particularly tricky enemy fighter or shaking a missile that’s locked onto your tail. While it’s not likely to have you missing much sleep, and it does tend to get a bit samey after prolonged exposure, Tom Clancy’s HAWX is an enjoyable arcade-style aerial combat game that’s great fun to pick up and play in relatively short spells.