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K-Hawk: Survival Instinct

Developer: Similis | Publisher: JoWood Entertainment
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 12/10/02 | Genre: Action

K-Hawk is a stealth-oriented game similar to Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell, and it drops you into the combat boots of the title character, Kitty Hawk. Ms. Hawk is clearly not your stereotypical soldier, and you'll probably end up like I did by regarding her as a Lara Croft clone with a dye job. Don't get me wrong; she is much easier on the eyes than most, but she isn't particularly well-dressed for a stealth mission. While you wouldn't think so at first glance, Hawk is a well-trained operative who can rise to the occasion whatever it might be.

I should mention that K-Hawk is a budget game meaning that you should be able to pick it up for around 20 bucks. If you go into the game expecting the kind of spit-and-polish that you would find in some of the better known titles, you'll be sorely disappointed. The graphics are dated, the sound isn't terribly impressive, and at times the gameplay tosses out some oddities. Once you get into the game though, it isn't a terrible experience.

The key to this game is stealth and remaining undetected, so you can infiltrate into the enemy base and find out what diabolical scheme they are cooking up today. (Personally, I think it is pretty hard to overlook Kitty, but that might just be me.) To your life a bit easier and less bullet-riddled, you are armed with your handy dandy scanner. Be sure to familiarize yourself with it quickly, as it will end up being your best friend and the only lifeline that you have. It maps out enemy units as well and provides you with a guide to their probable line of sight and how far away they can hear you. In an effort to help keep your focus on remaining undetected, you can't use the scanner when you draw your weapon. You'll have to pay attention to what you are doing, because it is very easy to inadvertently break cover and have a bunch of well-armed guards gunning for you. Combat doesn't work all that well in the game either. There were times when I was certain that I had popped someone in the head only to have them not realize that they should have fallen over dead. A couple of times I had to keep "convincing" people that they were corpses. You can also outrun your pursuit sometimes, which I felt was a glitch. It seemed especially odd when you return to the same spot and find that the guards have returned to their assigned patrol routes. Good grief, there's a hot babe trying to escape and you aren't going to try to chase her down to get her number? Get real!

Unfortunately, guns and rifles are the only weapons available. I would have loved to be able to be able to take out some of the guards with a rap on the head or with a masterfully-placed knife blade. At least you can use a sniper sight to drop some enemies from afar, but as I mentioned earlier that's not always a sure kill. Don't expect to be able to make it very far by dashing in and blasting everything that moves. It won't work. You don't have the Quake-style of combat nor should you in this type of game. Remember, you might be hot, but you are also extremely sneaky.

What's the bottom line? If you've played some of the bigger stealth titles, you probably won't enjoy K-Hawk too much. It has its good points (two of which come readily to mind) and its weak spots. It is hard enough to border on frustrating, but progress comes quickly enough to keep you from totally walking away from the game. There isn't much replay value, so you'll probably play through it once and consign it away to some corner of your desk. As it stands, K-Hawk is above average, and it would have proven much better with a bit more polish. Did I mention that the babe is pretty hot?

By Greg Meadors - 04/25/03
ESRB Details: Blood and Gore, Violence
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Screenshots for K-Hawk: Survival Instinct

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