Gameloft's HAWX is the iDevice adaptation of Ubisoft's million selling aerial combat shooter. For those unfamiliar with the first iteration of the game, the year is 2014 and global turmoil has lead to governments becoming dependant on private military companies. You play the role of ex-military pilot David Crenshaw, who has now enlisted as a mercenary with the High Altitude Warfare Experimental, or HAWX, squadron.
All 13 missions feature real terrain and landmarks from the world's largest space imaging corporation, Geo-Eye. They range from dog fights to target bombing and even supporting your friendly Ghost Recon forces that are fighting on the ground. Regardless of what mission you're playing, you’ll be going up against loads of planes, tanks, warships and helicopters. Luckily, you've got 25 licensed planes and a plethora of weapon packs to choose from, so you’ll be well up for the resistance. All the planes have been approved by their respective manufacturers and each one features a unique cockpit; if it wasn’t for the 120 plus missile capacity, it would make for one hell of an authentic flight experience.
Only three planes are available from the off, but with each mission you complete and each enemy you destroy you’ll gain experience points to unlock new aircraft and weapon packs, including the F117 nighthawk and the F-35 lightning II. You can control your aircraft using a joystick on the touch screen interface or, at the risk of looking a bit odd on the train, the accelerometer. All the action can be viewed from three camera angels: an exterior view; inside the cockpit; and a third camera that shows both you and your target - handy for spotting incoming missiles. The game also has a free camera that you can control by dragging your finger across the screen, so you can check out your flying machine from all angles.
The HUD is uncluttered, especially so if you're using the accelerometer. Weapons are fired using a button in the bottom right of the screen (dragging it left or right cycles through your artillery) with your health and options featured top right. You also have the ability to deploy flares, which are essential for avoiding particularly aggressive enemy missiles.
HAWX's campaign will last you three to four hours, with each mission lasting betweent ten and 25 minutes - perfect for a quick play session. Game time can be padded out by racking up EXP to unlock all the planes and weapon packs. Additionally, there's local multiplayer supporting up to four players, with game modes such as dogfight deathmatch and team deathmatch. With iPod music-playing functionality included, I imagine that the Top Gun soundtrack is going to see a fair few downloads around the game's early December release date. Based on what I’ve played, HAWX is looking like an incredibly solid entry in the genre.