Tom Clancy calls in air support

We had all heard that Ubisoft had wanted to try something new with their insanely successful Tom Clancy franchise but I had figured that they meant they were going to just design a new FPS with different gameplay mechanics. But no, they went all out and instead of just another shooter they’re bringing us Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X for the PS3 and the 360. H.A.W.X stands for high-altitude warfare with the ‘X’ being added to make the acronym actually sound like a real world that pertains to flying. It’s an air combat sim that will place players in jets in the near future when private military companies have basically taken over the world’s armies.

The game’s claim to fame, and the reason they say you’ll want to play it more than any other flight sim, is the Enhanced Reality System (ERS), which supposedly will help any novice pilot turn into a pro. It kind of sounds like training wheels to me as it offers an anti-crash system, a damage control system and weapons trajectory control plus many other features that appear to take control from the pilot. You can switch the assistance benefits on and off though. While off it, you’ll be able to pull off advanced dogfighting maneuvers and get stunning third-person views. Kind of cool that there is actually a benefit to taking off the computer aid.

Of course if you’ve played any recent air combat game you know that the multiplayer is where it’s at. Multiplayer dogfights are some of the most fun you can have online and it doesn’t look like H.A.W.X will disappoint as it offers 16-player dogfights in 50 of the world’s most famous aircrafts, as well as being able to fight over realistic modern landscapes that have endured years of post-war trauma. Not only that but the campaign mode will have four player online co-op that will allow players to jump in and out at any time, which is a nice feature that isn’t offered in any other games like this. It all sounds like a lot of fun and if it lives up to the usual high standards of the Tom Clancy games, it could be one of the best dog fighting experiences out there. The only thing that really worries me is the whole ERS thing. I’ll have to learn a bit more about how that works before proclaiming it anything but a dressed up help system. The game is scheduled for a Fall 2008 release.

[See also: Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X gallery]