The developers of the upcoming Tom Clancy aerial-combat title H.A.W.X. have taken great pains to ensure that their virtual landscapes are correct - enlisting the same $100 million satellite that powers Google Earth.
Sure, you might not ever actually notice the cities and vistas beneath you as you're hurtling along at barely-subsonic speeds with a bogey on your six, but that doesn't mean that Ubisoft's Romania-based development studio doesn't want to be accurate.
The GeoEye Ikonos satellite is a $100 million beauty, so powerful that it can see objects as small as 16 inches from its vantage point 423 miles above the Earth. The Washington, D.C. company supplies data to Google, making it one of the key players in Google Earth's uncanny ability to zoom in directly on your house.
H.A.W.X. takes that data and integrates it with the developers' 3-D elevation tech to create photorealistic - and accurate - terrain maps that gamers will fly past at hundreds of miles per hour: "The whole point is to give the gamer a real sense of authenticity," Mark Brender, GeoEye's Veep of communications and marketing, told Venture Beat. "It does a much better job than a cartoon map of immersing the player in the experience."
Not quite sure what he means by "cartoon map," but let's give Brender the benefit of the doubt and wave up at the sky - GeoEye just might be watching you.