So often I find myself starting these impressions thingymajigs with a confession. Today’s confession is that I’m not very good at flight sims. I’m not using that in the broad sense of ‘anything that has you flying a plane.’ I’m using it in the sense of trying to simulate what flying is, down to which knob gets turns at which point, otherwise you go headfirst into the nearest bit of dirt, with accompanying explosions. What I am good at, however, is the arcade flying games, like Ace Combat, and.. well, I’ve not played many other’s like Ace Combat. So when I played Hawx (screw those bloody dots and that silly capitalisation. I’ll do it for the post title, but no more), I was rather pleased that it was like Ace Combat, but, well, more fun.
What Hawx does really, really well is make you feel like that guy off Top Gun without feeling uncomfortable about your sexuality. You can pull off ludicrously dangerous stall manouvers to dodge missiles, when you could have just as easily hit your computer until it gave you a path to avoid it. Its got a pretty unique feature(gimmick); in the future, pilots will have super advanced computers that tell them how to fly, how to intercept, and how to dodge missiles. The only problem is the computer is so clever it stops you doing really, really stupid stuff like stalling to dodge a missile. So you have assist-on mode, which has you sat either in the plane or just behind it, with a full HUD and all those pretty things. And you also have assist-off mode, which sits you somewhere in the sky about a kilometer away from your plane, which allows you to do some really stupid stuff.
It’s a good thing I spent so much time in GTA IV in the cinematic camera mode. Learning to steer something from a perspective that isn’t really aligned to what you’re steering is a skill that I think is pretty essential to Hawx. I’ve heard a lot of grumbling since the demo went live on the consoles about how unintuitive the camera is in assist-off mode, but I’ve found myself spending most of my time in that exact mode, for that exact reason. I like to watch something cinematic, and while I don’t get the control that would be ideal, I do get to watch myself do some stupid, brilliant shit. Getting tailed by a enemy bogey (teehee)? Hit the brakes, spin your plane around in the stall, get a lock, and grin as he turns from a nuisance to an explosion.
So that’s how I see Hawx. I think it’s going to alienate a lot of people. It’s going to be the Marmite of arcade flight sims. Except for the fact that Marmite is disgusting, and this is fun. You can download the demo here.