Tom Clancy`s H.A.W.X. 2
Last year Ubisoft succeeded to expand the Tom Clancy universe in a fun way thanks to H.A.W.X.. This new franchise managed to appeal to die-hard flightsim fans as well as rookies thanks to the accessible though “realistic” gameplay. As history keeps repeating itself and a sequel more or less doesn’t hurt the gaming industry it’s up to you to again stop a new global crisis. Smashing the sound barrier is something we do without remorse.
Just like with all other Tom Clancy games the story is filled with terrorists, plot twists, double agents and dangerous weapons. David Crenshaw, the hero who set things straight in the previous game has become a colonel by now and is in charge of the H.A.W.X. pilots. During a test flight the military base you just left is cowardly attacked by terrorists and of course this event is used eagerly to start dropping some bombs yourself. From one air fighter to the next you try getting terrorists out of their holes. The story plays only a very small role between all the shooting but that didn’t stop Ubisoft from adding fun and interesting cut-scenes for illustration.
Contrary to its predecessor, H.A.W.X. 2 offers more variation, something this genre can certainly use. Next to the traditional flight missions you’ll now also get to explore enemy territory by means of a UAV in order to prepare your attack. Next to that you can fill up while in the air, have to safely land to refill your ammo and get your plane in the air yourself. Of course the game is still all about the great dog fights and with its 20 missions the story mode is about as long as in the previous game.
Nothing has been changed to the foundations but as the game went on sale only a year after the original we hadn’t expected that. You still have to avoid rockets, make sharp manoeuvres in mid-air and shoot down as much vermin as possible. Everything did get an overhaul though. As I said you’ll often have to land depart with your supersonic airplanes. Thanks to the ERS (Enhanced Reality System), that was already present in H.A.W.X., you get help with difficult moves like landing or filling your tank. Also with difficult hostiles you’ll be able to use this aid.
The real action still plays in the Assistance Off where the camera takes on a more global and dynamic image of the surroundings and your jet. This “mode” is available from the start, contrary to in the previous game where you had to intercept other flyers for five missions before you could get going with this. Another interesting thing with this sequel is the long list of rewards and challenges that can be unlocked by reaching mission goals, shooting down hostile planes or succesfully completing difficult manoeuvres. Your reward for all the hard work will go from new planes and decals to better weapons and decoy equipment.
Those that haven’t had enough after the story mode can get going in Survival where you need to survive ten rounds against waves of enemies. In Arcade you get the story mode missions again but with some slight changes to make things more difficult. You’ll for instance get a mission where only machine guns are at your disposal. Last up all sceneries are available in Free Flight where you can do some practise or fly around without any concerns.
All story mode missions are also playable in co-op but the game doesn’t support split-screen. If you’re fed up with AI-controlled hostiles you can go online.
The game doesn’t do great in the graphics department. The planes may look good, but I have a totally different opinion on the sceneries. Once you go below 1000 meters things really look awful. Cities like Tokyo and Capetown look dead which results in even less to do when in Free Flight mode. Once you go higher things look a lot more realistic and better thanks to the satellite images from GeoEye.
Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2 is still a very pleasant game that does justice to the flight genre. The missions offer enough variation to avoid early “cockpit ejects” and the game has enough extras next to the storyline. The difficulty degree may be a bit too difficult for casual gamers, but practise will help with that.