Hawk Ride Armor is in MY eyes, one of the best. And it is terribly underused. Again, they give you these walking tanks with their own lifebars and the ability to one shot enemies, you can summon them in stages, any one of them you like- and then the extent of it's usefulness is breaking ice blocks to a heart tank, something that could just as easily have been relegated to a special weapon. That's not good implementation.
When the game hands me something like those Ride Armors, I would expect them to be for something other than item hunting. I would expect the stages to be factored in.
Understandably however, it would have been nearly impossible to adapt the stages to the Ride Armors when there are different types with different abilites. Outside of alternate pathways, they couldnt have adapted one area to all of them.
That's the kind of Ride Armor utilization I like.
Meanwhile, every other X game that has a Ride Armor segment, adapts the stage to it, or at least makes it the most convenient way to traverse the stage. I think only X2 seems to have an X3 like problem with it's ride armor, particularly in the Dino Tank, But then again, at least it gives you some beefier enemies to fight with it, while X3 just has it's tiny little grunts.
It's why I love the Eagle Ride Armor so damn much. It was not only an improvement on what Hawk offered, but it was actually utilized in it's respective segments since it had that indefinite flight. The final stages even utilized the split paths concept, and made a Ride Armorless area, and a bottomless pit area traversable with the Eagle.
And X5 had an entire alternate pathway at the start of the second area of Mattrex's stage based around going THROUGH the lava with the Raiden Armor, as opposed to over it, which would instead net you a miniboss chase and battle.
The armors don't raise X's hit points
They decrease the amount he loses though.
And Heart Tanks DO.
they may not be as RPG as Symphony of the Night or Command Mission, but for the time, they were by the team, considered RPG elements. The idea that you would get more items as you grew stronger. Whether you like it or not, they were there solely to introduce an RPG-like concept into the franchise.