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The first Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X released just on around a year and a half a go, and jetted forth as Ubisoft’s first attempt at entering the air combat genre in this generation.

When we reviewed the first H.A.W.X, we thought it wasn’t bad at all, awarding it a solid 8.0/10, noting that it wasn’t for flight sim buffs, but rather gamers who were looking for a little bit of high-altitude excitement.

Hit the jump to find out if HAWX 2 soars above the clouds, or if it should just taxi itself back into the hangar.

Splinter Ghost: Double Rainbox – Six

HAWX 2 is set in Tom Clancy’s world of not-too-distant futuristic warfare, with the overall appeal of his universe focused on cutting edge technology and modern tactics.

In HAWX 2, you take the roles of different pilots from different parts of the world such as the USA, Russia, UK etc in a fashion not too dissimilar from what Infinity Ward originally did with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The story revolves around a few different plots of terrorism and military power that all come together into one big situation of optimal FUBAR-ness.

Ubisoft has started creating something special as far as their games are concerned, in that they are starting to create crossovers between their different games that exist in the Tom Clancy universe. This means that throughout the game you will deal and assist with member of Ghost Recon, as well as agents that work in the same lines as Sam Fisher.

Besides the neat idea of crossing the games over, the rest of the story falls very flat on its face. Throughout the cutscenes of the game, you will see pretty much every military war story cliche in existance as well as a lot of ideas stolen straight out of the Call of Duty “OMG I just died in a nuclear bomb” guidebook. It’s all very underwhelming for the most part, and can even feel a little boring sometimes as you realise that you haven’t really paid attention to anything that was told to you.

Tom Clancy’s name may be on the box, but his mind is no longer creating the world and it really does show.

Playing With Your Joystick

Gameplay in HAWX has not really changed much since the first game (as far as the flight combat missions go), with the exception of the new ability to take-off and land. It adds an extra dynamic to the game which was missing from the first and also changes up the way that some missions play out. I did however feel like the assistance modes needed some tuning since the first game, and the assisted approach mechanic was almost nowhere to be seen in the game.

There is however, an interesting addition that serves to break up the air missions and it comes in the form of missions that take place in UAV’s as well as AC130 gunships. Some missions will have you marking locations and assisting an agent who for all intents and purposes may as well have been a Russian version of Sam Fisher. You float around above in a UAV and mark targets, buildings and sometimes provide fire support and scouting.

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There are also missions that will feel very familiar to those of you who have played a little game called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, as you helm the guns of an AC130 gunship and provide support for Ghost Recon units.

I did like their inclusion, as it helped pass along the feeling that your job is a part of something bigger in the Tom Clancy universe.

What I did get very frustrated with, were the controls and especially their layout. The left thumbstick is dedicated to the pitch and roll of the place (up, down and rolling) while the left and right trigger have been assigned to accelerating and breaking. My big issue is that the yaw (that steers the plane horizontally) is assigned to the left and right bumpers, while the ability to look around has been given to the right thumbstick.

Throughout the entire game you will barely ever make use of the right thumbstick, all the while tying your fingers in knots and giving you hand cramps as you attempt to use one finger to accelerate with the right trigger, another to adjust the yaw slightly on the right bumper and another to hit face buttons and make use of your weapons. All the while, the right analog stick sits there doing absolutely nothing, which makes no sense and is only more annoying once you realise that the developers did not see it fit to allow the player to customise their controls in any way.

I was also surprised to see the developers making some very amateur mistakes to be quite frank. In missions, I often found that my wingmen were doing nothing more than making the scene looks busy, rather than actually helping me to take out the massive enemy force. Even worse, is that I started to realise that in many cases, the A.I ignored pretty much everyone and only targeted me as if I was the only plane in the sky.

The controls as well as this had a pretty large effect on my gameplay experience, and led to a lot of missions being a lot more frustrating than they needed to be and ruining the experience at times.

It’s A Dog Eat Dog World

One saving grace for HAWX 2 is that, just like the first game, you can play campaign in co-operative mode, which means that your wingmen are less likely to be completely useless and working together can be a whole lot of fun.

There are also multiplayer modes that allow for players to take each other on in huge air battles. I had no trouble finding a game, and the online felt pretty smooth and free of lag.

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Eye In The Sky

HAWX 2 is a pretty good looking game as far as flight combat games go, and thanks to the GeoEye technology that is used, the locations in the game are realistic and true to real life, including a mission that takes place over Cape Town, which I can personally vouch for as completely accurate and even includes the recently built World Cup stadium. The HUD can get overbearing at times though, as I would often find myself staring at a screen full of green blocks, plane call-signs/model-names and pretty much nothing else.

The soundtrack tries its best to sound as epic as possible and does its job pretty well over most of the game and voice acting ranges between some decent work and a Russian general that sounds more South African than Russian, so it’s pretty up and down.

Conclusion

Tom Clancy’s HAWX 2 doesn’t feel like a major improvement over the first game, merely the same type of game with a few extras here and there. The game feels like it could have been much more, and is let down by frustrating controls and A.I as well.

Scoring:

Gameplay: 8.0

Frustrating controls at times as well as the lack of customisation options. Has its fun moments though.

Presentation: 8.0

Good looking scenery, jets look good too. HUD can be a little too much.

Sound: 7.5

Decent soundtrack and effects, voice acting is a little hit and miss.

Value: 7.0

A couple of hours for the campaign will be better spent playing co-operatively if possible. Multiplayer adds more value, but I don’t see it having great longevity.

Overall: 7.7 (not an average)

Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X 2 is a decent flight combat experience, it definitely has its fun moments but suffers from some frustrating moments and is wrapped up in a pretty terrible story.

[Reviewed on Xbox 360]

Last Updated: September 13, 2010

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X 2
Summary
7.7

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since '08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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