I’ve always been a big fan of flight simulators, primarily the Ace Combat series, which has been a mainstay in console gaming since the beginning of the Playstation era. While it may be unfair to compare most flight simulators to the Ace Combat series, you almost have to. The H.A.W.X. demo that I played on the floor of E3, from what I experienced, may give Ace Combat a run for its money.
The demo that was available puts you at the helm of an F-22 Raptor in a mission that patrols over Rio de Janeiro. Very little is actually known about the premise of the game itself, but the exhibitors explained that there would be some tie-in with the Splinter Cell games as well as the upcoming Endwar, which is an RTS game that is scheduled to come out for the holiday season.
Graphically, the game is pretty good. I did notice a slight problem with frame rate when switching from one view to another. It’s pretty minor, but can be a little annoying. I was told that since this isn’t anywhere near the final build of the game that these issues would be addressed. I was also somewhat disappointed in the fact that the game was only available with a third person camera view, which was behind the plane itself.
One unique control with the game is that you can switch to a fixed camera view when a missile has been fired at you. It allows you to take a wider perspective of what’s going on and allows you to dodge a missile by seeing where your plane and the missile are in comparison to each other. Truthfully, I didn’t like this part, simply because it seemed that the game was forcing you to use this mode. I tried to dodge a missile in the regular camera view and it just didn’t seem possible. If the game forces you to use this camera angle, which is a double tap of the left trigger, then it could hurt the overall presentation of the game itself.
Dogfighting, however, is something that I enjoyed quite a bit. The battle is more realistic than other flight simulators and also allows you to intercept an enemy by hitting the X button, causing you to follow a highlighted path that will take you to a path behind the enemy you are trying to shoot down. Sometimes it’s easy to do this, while other times a little more difficult. It depends solely on the difficulty of the game and the enemy you are trying to shoot down.