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Two stylish wargames take aerial combat into the future.

The futuristic Micro soft Windows XP/Vista, 2.0 Ghz processor, 1GB system RAM, DVD ROM HAWX ($30, requires player, 3D video card with 128MB video memory, Ubisoft, looks and plays much like a console dogfighting game, similar to the Ace Combat series. The player’s alter ego in the game is a retired U.S. Air Force pilot who starts flying for a private defense firm. Once the player’s character joins Artemis, a fictional mercenary firm, he’s dumped into conflicts around the world.

Action is the name of the game in HAWX, so it’s no surprise to see arcade-style flight models here. They all can turn on a dime and hardly bleed any speed. Pilots don’t suffer from blackout or redout effects, and aircraft can carry dozens more missiles and bombs than a Boeing B-52. But HAWX draws inspiration from real life in several ways. First, there are more than 50 licensed aircraft in the game. You can fly almost any fighter or attack plane from the Vought A-7 Corsair II to the Boeing F-22 Rap tor. Second, it features cockpit aids that are somewhat believable extrapolations of current technology, e.g. the use of fly-by-wire avionics systems to help maintain aircraft stability amid maneuvering. Ultimately, HAWX isn’t the first place to go for realism or history, but it offers plenty of dogfighting.

Endwar ($30, requires Microsoft Windows XP/Vista, 2.0 Ghz dual processor, 1GB system RAM, DVD ROM drive, 3D video card with 256MB video memory, Ubisoft) is a real-time strategy game that, like HAWX, looks at future conflict. Players serve as commanders, directing troops via mouse and keyboard. The action is standard as real-time strategy games go, featuring nicely illustrated combat. Endwar doesn’t offer as interesting a single-player experience, but like HAWX lets you hook up to the Internet, where you’ll find ample opportunities to extend the action.

Both games feature plenty of aviation elements and entertainment value, and both offer support for voice commands. Players can talk to the game through a mike and control it via a limited vocabulary. They’re not the first to include such a user interface, but Endwar may be one of the first real-time strategy games to integrate it. That feature boosts the immersion factor in both games and fits well with their futuristic themes.


Originally published in the January 2010 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here