A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents needs to know that while the language is generally mild, you may hear the 's' word and 'bastard' now and then. Targets like tanks and planes are shot constantly. But there is little blood, primarily firing of bombs and missiles and watching fire-filled explosions, usually from a distance. When you crash, team members call you 'down', not dead.
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What's it about?
The Tom Clancy moniker is one of the most recognizable in video games today, so much so that UbiSoft has already created dozens of games based on Clancy's various works. Now comes TOM CLANCY'S H.A.W.X., a dramatic air combat offering set in the not-too-distant future in which you retire from the armed forces to join an elite squadron of mercenary pilots. Your goal is to save your clients' oil rigs and the like – until you find your employer might be the bad guy.
H.A.W.X. can be controlled with either the 360 controller, or (much better) a flight stick attachment. Your left stick controls altitude, your left and right button the yaw, the right trigger -- the speed, and the X button, your homing missiles. You can brake to about 1,000 mph with your left trigger and lock on targets using the Y button. Missions, which escalate in complexity, take between a half hour and an hour to play through. You can play online as well.
Is it any good?
Once you're in the air, flying over any city is wonderfully impressive because the developers used satellite imagery to create these worlds. As you choose carefully from 50 sleek aircraft (including the stealthy F-117 Nighthawk), you move through a generally compelling story, 19 levels worth. While the online play is somewhat exciting, it's not really a step forward as far as uniqueness is concerned. Still, you can cooperatively play all the single player missions over Xbox Live.
The primary challenge with H.A.W.X. is trying to pilot the plane with the 360's controller -- without crashing. You may find targeting challegning because your crosshairs are colored gray and can get lost in the colors of the sky above and terrain below. For newbies, there should have been a step-by-step tutorial that's more intensive than the tutorial given in the first level. While what's present is O.K. for core gamers (who'll wish the planes had more nuance), anyone who is trying to pilot for the first time may be daunted.
Talk to your kids about ...
Parents can talk about whether or not you want to be a fighter pilot. In the future if you had the choice, would you leave the armed forces to fly rogue missions around the world? Or would you simply be happy to work for your country? Also, there are 50 planes in H.A.W.X. Which is your favorite? Why?
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