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Tom Clancy's HAWX

Screw up, and you'll be flying a cargo of rubber dog shit out of Hong Kong

Ho hum, another near-future combat title named - but not directly influenced by - Mr Tom Clancy. Or so the thought went until I clapped eyes on this particularly tasty screenshot. Granted, it's probably not in-game, but the ones that are are not far below the quality shown here.

Look at the detail! Obviously the F-16 making a beeline for the heavens is incredibly accurate - that much is usually a given in flight games. Where games like this generally come apart is in the stuff on ground.

Clouds and sky are a piece of coding piss comparatively, but the town planning aspect has always consisted of bland little boxes arranged in neat grids, the thinking presumably being that while you're cracking around at 700 miles per hour you're not likely to notice any detail.

There's an intricately designed sports stadium down there which looks an awful lot like Paris' Stade de France. You can even clearly make out practice grounds surrounding it. The fine web of roads criss-crossing the city, the urban sprawl and the mountains in the background only heighten the realism.

Forward-thinking
As is typical in a Clancy game, the action takes place a few years in the future, in 2012. It's a fashionable tale of private military companies inching the world closer to war; your role is to take to the skies and splash some suckers. It's not yet clear how close to traditional PC flight sim territory this will veer, but there will be over 50 real-life military planes to pilot and a variety of hi-tec weaponry to bring to bear.

Ubisoft has sprinkled the game with acronyms, but these are mostly ridiculous-sounding and obviously not what they were aiming for. There's HAWX, High Altitude Warfare (the X must have been added to stop it sounding like 'whore') and there's also ERS, which is 'Enhanced Reality System'. Snappy, eh?

ERS covers things like incoming missile evasion, radar and weapons control. Plus it allows you to issue commands to your squadron in similar manner to those given by the Cross-Com system in GRAW.

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