Review – Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2

Aerial warfare has evolved. So have you. As a member of the ultra-secret H.A.W.X. 2 squadron, you are one of the chosen few, one of the truly elite. You will use finely honed reflexes, bleeding-edge technology and ultra-sophisticated aircraft – their existence denied by many governments – to dominate the skies.

HAWX is an elite military squadron performing black ops and surgical interventions on behalf of the United States government. HAWX pilots are elite professionals and they have access to the top equipment and aircraft available, ranging from mainstays like the A-10 Thunderbolt II or the F-16C Fighting Falcon to the cutting edge F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II. They also have access to more specialized equipment, like surveillance UAVs or the AC-130U Spooky gunship.

The storyline in HAWX 2 starts in the Middle East, in the near future. The HAWX squadron is deployed in the Middle East, where insurgent activity is showing a rise both in the level of activity and in the violence of it. With new insurgent leaders rising in several hot spots of the world and a number of nuclear weapons belonging to Russia being mysteriously stolen, a storm is brewing and the HAWX are sent to the center of it. As the story unfolds, the HAWX have to discover the source of the new threats and fight this dangerous new adversary. The HAWX are not be alone this time – the story shows missions of a British naval pilot and of a Russian pilot, all of them caught up in the same complex web of conspiracies and conflicts.

The game can be played with compatible flight sticks but we used a standard PS3 controller. The tutorials introduce you to the many aspects of flying, fighting, bombing, and landing. It is in your best interest to pay attention as the tutorials are very informative and will make you a better pilot. The gameplay and flight controls are standard for a flight game and switching between weapons is rather simple and very quick. That comes in handy when you are having to switch between air and ground targets. You’ll also be in control of an Unmanned Aeriel Vehicle (UAV) and are a gunner on a C130u. The controls for the UAV are simple, but effective. You’ll use strobe sensors for marking targets and you’ll use rockets for taking those targets out.  The C130U gives you some devastating firepower at your finger tips. Seeing a large group of tanks light up with a 105mm round is impressive and deadly for the insurgents on the ground.

The single player campaign can be daunting at times due to the fact that even if you are with a squadron of other fighters, they don’t seem to help. You’ll be locked in to a dogfight with four or five Migs and your wingman will be thousands of feet away enjoying the air show. Online campaign co-op (2-4 players) helps considerably and is a savior for some missions on harder settings.

Taking off and landing has been added to the game and at first glance it seems unnecessary. What’s the point in landing in the middle of a mission? Later in the campaign, when you are having to take out an unbelievable number of targets with a limited number of weapons, landing will reload your plane and is a welcome relief.

Competitive multiplayer (2-8 players) returns from the previous game. XP is earned in all modes and can be spent on additional planes and upgrades, which also spreads across all modes. The multiplayer modes are the same as in the original release but two new modes are added for the offline game. They are ‘Arcade’ and ‘Survival’ modes. All levels can be replayed once completed but with Arcade mode turned on, you’ll get to play that level over with some restrictions. One level is the C130U with nothing but your 40MM cannon. Survival mode is exactly how it sounds. You’ll have to survive 10 waves of enemies with more and more coming with each wave. They add up in a hurry and ground targets get thrown into the mix as well.

The graphics are impressive as well. The details of the aircraft you’ll be flying seem spot on. The maps you’ll be flying over are huge and use GeoEye hi-res satellite imagery to make them look as real as possible. They offer some spectacular and diverse vistas, including mountains, deserts, mountainous coastal regions and some well known cities, like Cape Town.

If you are a flight enthusiast and love flight games, H.A.W.X. 2 is a must have game. If you want to take a break from your AK 47 or M4, pick up a copy and jump in the cockpit.