Brazilian Dogfight: HAWX Demo

Looks like it really might be time to dust-off that joystick Alec was getting all whimsical about: Ubisoft’s fancy-flyin’ aerial combat game is almost upon us (the full game is out on March 13th), and the PC demo has crash-landed its way onto servers across the world. No simulation here, it’s arcade-tastic, obviously, but this two-level demo allows you to fly with “assist” on and off, allowing you to fly with computer guidance, or with just your own reflexes. And it all comes with some Clancy-tastic military undertones: private military companies are taking the skies to play out Top Gun fantasies over the world’s near-future hotspots. The 1.24gb demo is here. Tell us exactly what you think in the comments below. (Minimum and recommended specs for demo after the jump – plus dogfighting action!)

Minimum Configuration :

* CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.0 GHz/ AMD Athlon XP 2000+ or higher
* Operating System: Windows XP (with Service Pack 3) or Windows Vista (with Service Pack 1)
* RAM: 1 GB Windows XP / 2 GB Windows Vista
* DVD-ROM: DVD-ROM speed 4x, dual-layer drive
* Drive Space: 1.5 GB
* Graphics Card: 128 MB DirectX compliant, Shader 2.0 enabled video card
* Sound Card: DirectX 9.0 compliant sound card
* DirectX Version: DirectX 9.0 or 10.0 libraries (included on disc)

Recommended & Preferred Configuration:

* CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 6320 / AMD Athlon X2 4000+ or higher
* Operating System: Windows XP (with Service Pack 3) or Windows Vista (with Service Pack 1)
* RAM: 2 GB
* DVD-ROM: DVD-ROM speed 4x, dual-layer drive
* Drive Space: 1.5 GB
* Graphics Card: 256 MB DirectX 10.0 compliant video card or DirectX 9.0 compliant card with Shader Model 3.0 or higher (see supported list)
* Sound Card: DirectX 9.0 compliant sound card
* DirectX Version: DirectX 9.0 or 10.0 libraries (included on disc)
* Peripherals: Xbox 360 Controller for Windows


  1. l1ddl3monkey says:

    I played this demo on a friends PS3 recently. Sorry – it’s not for me. It’s like Top Gun with less subtlety. Also I am totally unable to play any Clancy titles without the “America: F*** Yeah!” song going round and round and round in my head (having said that, I love a bit of R6:Vegas but don’t understand why a game that prides itself on accuracy/realism would allow THAT allegedly Brit accent to be used in game… “Got the blighter”???? No one in the UK has spoken like that since 1950).

  2. Thirith says:

    Is anyone else reminded of Strike Commander?

    And does that name make anyone else pine for the good old days of Origin – We Create Worlds?


  3. Schmung says:

    Tried the 360 demo when that came out and my opinions not changed since then. The horrid assist off camera just breaks it TBH. Otherwise potentially entertaining.

  4. Dude says:

    Strike Commander was awesome, good mix between arcade and pseudo sim. And it was looking as well at the time, it still does in my head (still remember the half naked girl in of the tent of the base camp… :) )

  5. Mind Elemental says:

    Mmm, Strike Commander. I remember that from my childhood, though I never got past the third or fourth operation… a properly arcadey remake would be awesome.

  6. aldo says:

    Strike commander was the dogs nadgers. Still remember that mission where you had to destroy a skyscraper in San Francisco….

  7. ilurker says:

    I was interested in this game at first, but was pretty but off by the lack of 360 gamepad support. The default scheme for all the buttons on the generic layout didn’t even cover essential functions like brake and accelerate, which led to a frustrating few moments of the training instructor yelling at me every four or five seconds while I fiddled around trying to find a function which wasn’t even bound.

    Just another lazy port.

  8. JKjoker says:

    It looks like an ok missile shooting simulator but its nowhere near my favorite flying sim Freespace 2 so meh and it might be just me but the sound of what i asume is a missile lock warning is incredible ANNOYING! and it seems to be playing during most of the game

  9. Nick says:

    Ubisoft in lazy port shocker?

  10. Live-Dimension says:

    There is “brake and accelerate” – W + S…

    Graphics – great.
    But I’d rather play Total Air War anyday over this… and I am.

  11. Katsumoto says:

    The fact there are commands for “brake” and “accelerate” put me off this. Then I tried it anyway, and I think it’s a bit pap. Doesn’t feel anything like flying to me, the assist mode seems pointless and… I can’t hear anything anyone is saying to me over the noise of the engine and you can’t have subtitles on. Heh. I may just be going deaf, though.

    To be honest, a game with planes with no throttle control and no take offs will never work in my book!

  12. Klumhru says:

    HAW.. can’t be bothered.

    @Live-Dimension (OT)
    I’ve been having probs getting TAW running on vista. You got any helpful links for that?

  13. UncleLou says:

    I was interested in this game at first, but was pretty but off by the lack of 360 gamepad support.

    What do you mean? It works perfectly fine. Detected my 360 pad as it should, showed me the correct button prompts, and whatnot.

    Just another lazy port.

    It really isn’t. Runs like shit from a shovel with lots of options, looks tremendous, has extra Dx10 support. I don’t know what else you expect from a port.

  14. UncleLou says:

    Forgot to mention: it even has a picture of the 360 pad with the control layout in the options.

  15. Anon says:

    Using a combination of keyboard + joystick, it wasn’t all that bad, even though setting the controls is a pain in the ass as you have to swap between two menus.

    Set keyboard controls here! Set joystick controls here! Just slap it all in one page and let me do the jigsaw.

    As for the demo, play the tutorial is you want to be annoyed. The assistance off thingy has me confused. It gives me an odd camera and I can’t seem to make barrel-rolls, turning it more into an assist-[i]on[/i] if anything. Plus I can’t get my plane straight enough to get a decent bead for my gun. Not that it matters as you’ll have a zillion missiles anyway.

    The actual mission is super arcadey. Plenty of shit flying, driving and floating to waste missiles on and provided you fly assistance-on(?), use your gun. It looks pretty and played fluid and that geo-eye stuff looks neat from a distance. Up close, not so much, but what’s to expect?

    I’m a little confused as to why anyone would want to invade rio and do amphibious landings, but hey, it’s Clancy. I’m sure there’s a perfectly good pseudo-political explanation for it.

  16. aldo says:

    Is it anything like the Ace Combat games? I had a rip-off of those called Heatseeker on the Wii; it was fairly gubbins, but still fun. Would be interested in a low brain-cells plane explody-porn game.

  17. UncleLou says:

    Oh, and a tip: select “expert” controls for the assistance-off mode. It turned a rather confusing mess in a pretty air-combat ballet for me. In “expert”, the controls are the same as from the cockpit perspective, while the “normal” controls introduce a simplified, relative to the camera control mode which didn’t work for me at all.

  18. Theoban says:

    I think we’re all missing the point here. HAWX is a terrible acronym.

  19. UncleLou says:

    Is it anything like the Ace Combat games?

    It is an AC clone with (optional) external camera mode. If it had said “Ace Combat” in the menu, I wouldn’t have been surprised. :)

  20. Matt says:

    My demo crashes as soon as I try and apply a newly created profile, anyone hit this issue?

  21. Kitt Basch says:

    I quite like Ace Combat, and I actually quite liked Hawkies when I played it at the Eurogamer Expo, but I dislike it now.

    I think the difference is the assist off thingie. It seems like a good idea at first, because how else can you show off all your fancy moves, but the wide angle camera handbrake turns are just confusing instead of being crazybatshit awesome.

    The zoomy tunnel auto-pilot thingie is a good idea though.

  22. Anon says:

    Don’t see how they could confuse “normal” with “stupid”.

    Depends on your reference frame I suppose.

  23. phuzz says:

    Played the demo on the 360, on a nice big telly and it looked dead nice.
    As for fun, well, I think after a few hours I’d have got bored of the, find enemy, switch to handbrake mode, do improbable turns while shooting wildly, rinse, repeat.

    plus, hiding tanks in between skyscrapers is just cheating surely?

  24. bansama says:

    Well going right against the grain here, I actually enjoyed the demo. But my hate for Ubisoft’s current business practices means that I just can’t bring myself to buy this, no matter how much I enjoyed it — and I usually hate this sort of game.

  25. l1ddl3monkey says:

    @Theoban: Of course the game has a stupid name. It’s Clancy (yes I know Ubisoft actually own his name now; the irony of a hardened right wing US war hawk and armchair general selling his name to the French elicited a chuckle from me).

    Here’s one of my fave toys: the TOM CLANCY PLOT GENERATOR

    link to

  26. Felipe says:

    Sorry, why is there a “Brazilian” in the title? I don’t get it…

  27. Plopsworth says:

    Because it’s an aerial battle defending Rio de Janeiro in the demo?

  28. Felipe says:

    Well, that’s a pretty good explanation!
    Although I can think of no plausible reason in the world why there would ever be a dogfight in the skies of Rio… Did we win the World Cup finals in Buenos Aires against the Argentinians or something? :-)

  29. DK says:

    The utterly ridiculous assist-off camera angle breaks the game entirely. “You want to use your plane to it’s full potential? Only if you look sideways at your plane (without seeing your actual target) from 200 meters away.”
    Did they even PLAY this thing before shipping it off?
    Not to mention horrible port issues, from crippled menus to completely crippled menus.

  30. unclelou says:

    Did they even PLAY this thing before shipping it off?

    But … it plays perfectly fine. I really can’t see what problem people have with it. Not to mention that you don’t need to use it, except in the tutorial mission.

  31. Wacky says:

    I thought it was rather good,it was a lot of fun which imo should be the main focus for any game,even though I had to use the keyboard exclusively because they mouse controls are way too sensitive.

    I’m definately picking this up,lots of fun to be had,and I thank God it’s not trying to be something that it’s not (a flight sim)

  32. frags says:

    It doesn’t feel like you are piloting a fighter at all. Game looks great. That’s about the only positive thing that I can say about it.

    Yes the assist off camera is rubbish(which you probably never have to use after the tutorial).

  33. Real Horrorshow says:

    Meh. Kinda cool. Not $50 cool, though.

  34. Corbeaubm says:

    I’m in love with HAWX after playing the demo. Ubisoft finally figured out that the single most important factor in a dogfight isn’t your location on some data grid, it’s your relation to the enemy. This game requires very different thinking from the typical flight sim model, but is like a breath of fresh air once you grasp it. After playing around a bit with assist-off, I felt pained going back to assist-on again.

    Not that love is without its frustrations. There is a learning curve, particularly for using the “expert” control mode that gives you standard stick control while in assist-off rather than the move-in-the-direction-that-I-press mode that it normally shifts to. The game itself doesn’t seem particularly deep once you’ve mastered assist-off either. Plus I’m not a fan of the theme – glorification of modern-day violence just doesn’t appeal to me.

    Still, a breath of fresh air. Now I have to figure out if I’m willing to overcome my “boycott Ubisoft” stance that I took after they chose to release the Prince of Persia downloadable content for consoles only (has RPS blogged about that yet?).

  35. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    I actually really liked the tutorial from the weird assist camera. Not much was happening, and braking and turning on a dime to ambush drones was ridiculously fun, combined with the beautiful graphics. However, when I actually needed to be making good moves in the real mission, the assist camera didn’t help at all.

    I was using mouse and keyboard and didn’t reconfigure the controls, so that didn’t help. If they had gone full out and used WASD for accelerate/yaw left/brake/yaw right I think I could’ve done better.

    Uninstalled it after one playthrough. Not my cup of tea.

  36. Blather Blob says:

    I wish Gamer’s Hell didn’t wrap single-file installers up in zip files. It gets more and more annoying as the demos get more and more huge.

  37. Nando says:

    Demo is finally out on Steam. Should make it easier to download. Just started the processs.
    How does this game compare to Strike Commander? Used to love that one.
    Anyway, it should be good to finally play some aerial combat over my home city. I’ll probably try to throw some missiles on that long bridge I used to cross every day on my way to the university. :)

  38. Mohamed says:

    i have played the PC demo, and i don’t like what I have seen,the consoles gaming is downgrading the complexity of the games and deliver more shallow playing games, same thing TC End WAR, these games are for children. the both was not entertaining and very easy

  39. bansama says:

    Still, a breath of fresh air. Now I have to figure out if I’m willing to overcome my “boycott Ubisoft” stance that I took after they chose to release the Prince of Persia downloadable content for consoles only (has RPS blogged about that yet?).

    That’s pretty much why I won’t be buying it. I don’t think RPS did cover the POP thing, but I’ve made my thoughts on the business reasons scandal known.

  40. Sunjammer says:

    Ace Combat, Westerner edition. Now with bullshit camera arcade minigame mode you don’t need.

  41. Fire_Storm says:

    Anyone else getting a bug where you just fire missiles at random? Most annoying…

  42. Nando says:

    Definitely nothing like old Strike Commander. Such disappointment.

    Moving your view after flashing yellow squares and then pressing space bar to shoot unlimited homing missiles at them gets boring really really fast.

    First they dumb down RTSs with End War, and now Combat Flight Sims. They could change the name Tom Clancy for something like Simple Game for Kids.

    And worst of all, when the guy says in the radio “Mission accomplished, return to base!”, I actually thought to myself “Oh good. Now I can actually try to land the plane on that nice looking airport runway”, but Nooo, there comes the End of Mission window with the Ok button to take me back to the main screen.

    The only good thing about this game was the out of ordinary brazilian scenario. Too bad we can’t even interact with it.

    I just remembered now my good times playing games like Strike Commander where I could only finish the mission after succesfully landing the plane back on my base. Sometimes I would even press the eject button to get back safely and easier with the penalty of having to pay some million dollars for the lost plane. That was cool.

  43. blind_stone says:

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned Falcon 4.0, best combat flight sim ever.

  44. Scandalon says:

    So…just played the demo. All the whining is funny, if nothing else because you’ve got it backwards – the “Assist” actually refers to the computer limiting maneuvers, with the standard behind-the-plane/in-the-cockpit views the default for that, whilst the weird outside from the side, but maybe from the front, view is with assist OFF! Weird, a bit disorienting, but actually cool in that it makes it easier to/forces you to visualize where everything is in relation to your craft. (When it isn’t confusing you, that is.)

    It was pretty, and fun. (Long term? Worth $50? Probably not for me.) While I agree that a re-done Strike Commander with new tech would be welcome, and Falcon 4 was the bees knees for sims, complaining this isn’t those is like complaining that Sins of a Solar Empire isn’t Star Control 3…

    Playing with a keyboard sure hurt my wrists though.

  45. Soundy says:

    So they didnt bother to do a combo between keyboard and joystick…. kinda stupid if you ask me. So now i have to have 11tybillion buttons all prgrammed into my joystick, well thats just awesome.