Ubisoft released the downloadable PC demo for Tom Clancy’s Hawx today, and I made sure to download it and get it installed.  If you haven’t heard about it, let me get you acquainted by way of a trailer!

While this is still only a demo, it’s really exciting.  Air combat is an area where video games have always done well in, no matter which generation we are in.  We had Starfox, Starfox 64, Ace Combat 1-6, Crimson Skies, and a host of less memorable ones.  With this in mind, it’s a little hard to understand why these games don’t come out all that often.  Well, this one makes up for the wait with some awesome graphics and flat out awesome controls!

The demo only has a single mission and a tutorial level.  You can unlock 5 jets and it gives you a good feel for how the rest of the game would flow.  What’s really cool are the maneuvers you can pull off in this game; all those physics defying moves you see in the trailer are real, and you learn how to do them in the first level! 

I shall give my pro/con list here:

  • Pro: Is multi-platform, so you can play on any current gen system (including PC’s)
  • Pro: The controls are smooth and intuitive, allowing you to really get lost in how your jet moves
  • Pro: The “Enhanced Reality System” is frakking awesome!  When engaged, it projects a series of “gates” ahead of you for you to go through (kind of like Forza) to get behind an enemy, avoid a missile, or line up for a ground attack.
  • Pro: You have a choice between “Assisted Mode” (fixed view behind the plane with the HUD visible), and “Expert Mode” (free roaming chase plane view with only a few objective markers).  Both are gorgeous.
  • Pro: The graphics are awesome!  In Expert Mode, the chase plane view really gets you lost in the sensation of flight.
  • Con: The chase plane view can be hard to control.  I flew straight into a mountain side because the view refused to flip around and show what was in front of me.
  • Con: This is a demo and so is not a full package.  Mine was missing sound for whatever reason.  Hard to handle the voice control with no sound.
  • Pro:  Oh yeah!  It has voice control!!
  • Pro/Con: This is Tom Clancy here.  It’s going to be a long, drawn out, politically complex story line.
  • Pro/Con: This is Tom Clancy’s game.  It may or may not be bundled with that horrible Physx driver system that will bog down the beefiest of systems with bloated programming.
  • CON!!!!!  Not all jets are available to all players.  If you got a Ubisoft VIP pass, you get a special Saab Draken.  If you pre-order from GameStop, you get an F-22.  Went to BestBuy?  You get a F/A-18 HARV.  In this day of player rankings, points, and awards, this is NOT how to do things.  The best pilot on Live! should not be at a disadvantage simply because he didn’t buy his copy from such-and-such retailer.
  • Con: To get the demo, you have to register for File Planet (which is why I did not post the link to the actual site).

A game can still be ruined by horrid level design and long, winding story lines.  It’s hard to say exactly how this game will play from start to finish.  Crimson Skies was an excellent story and we really lucked out with that.  Hopefully this will be the same.  I’m certainly rooting for it, ’cause it’s a beautiful game to play (even without sound).

About The Author

Co-founder of Stolendroids.com and Executive Producer for Stolendroids Podcast. Also resident 'tech-head' and de-facto leader of the group.

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  • zohner

    This looks like it has a lot of potential. I’m excited to see how good it ends up being once it’s released.

  • Dr Squishy

    I played the demo on the Xbox 360. I loved the game right up to the point where the camera switched to a truly terrible view (likely the chase camera Zuke mentioned). Once this happened the game ceased to be fun. The great part about flight games is that you get to pretend that you actually are Maverick (say what you will about Cruise but Top Gun still holds up and kicks ass), not somebody watching him. No one wants to be Merlin. I’ve been meaning to try the demo out again to see if it was just my own ineptitude that forced me into that camera view. Hopefully there is a way to switch views in the 360 demo.

    I think this game is going to be added to my list of “When it hits $30 used I might pick it up”. Clancy games have been hit or miss, so we’ll have to see.

  • To switch views, you double tap the left or right trigger. The tutorial forces you into expert mode at one point and won’t let you back into assisted mode to learn some of the more advanced moves (like, get ready for it, Power Breaking!). It also gives you a much more cinematic view of the action IMHO. It can get quite annoying if you aren’t used to it though.

  • Dr Squishy

    It was during the tutorial mode that I couldn’t get out of the view. That caused me to crash several times.