The Tom Clancy’s universe is rich in background story, characters and filled with critically acclaimed tactical first person shooters, stealth games and future warfare simulators. Tom Clancy’s HAWX’ series is an attempt to introduce action packed, modern air combat into that very universe. The first HAWX released just last year and told a story of former U.S. Air Force pilot David Crenshaw as part of the squadron, the world was at war and HAWX 2 picks up pretty much right there.
After being put through several training scenarios to get players used to the controls and flying jet fighters at high altitude we get to jump straight into the action. The world, as one might expect in a Tom Clany’s game is in chaos, Russian nuclear warheads disappeared, violence breaks out and the world is at the brink of destruction. Throughout the campaign, which took me around 6 hours to complete I took control of several high tech jet fighters, UAVs and an AC-130 gunship on the American, Russian and British military forces.
The game takes players all over the world, the missions are set in South Africa, the Middle East, Russia and Europe. Environments are beautifully rendered and hold up even at close range. HAWX 2 is a game set around modern combat jets and all of the aircraft are gorgeous and fun to maneuver. The dog-fighting was especially enjoyable and the feeling of landing a one-two punch with a couple of heat seeking missiles always felt rewarding. I did have a concern with the interface during the dogfights as targets switched several times and I lost sight of the enemy which had me starting over on more than one occasion after being shot down or crashing into the environments.
The storyline of HAWX 2 allows for some interesting gameplay sequences including several variations of UAV based missions and controlling of an AC-130 gunship’s weapons arsenal. While those missions were fun to play they were not incredibly innovative but certainly helped switch up the gameplay and keep things rolling on a nice pace. The control layout in HAWX 2 feels very natural after just a few missions and made for an intuitive experience, one gripe I did have with layout was the fact that I could not switch the camera view unless I called up the options menu.
Overall I did enjoy the combat and flying controls of HAWX 2 but there were a few missions in which the game forced me to complete some not particularly well designed sequences a certain way which turned out to be a bit frustrating. I was pleasantly surprised however, that the plot kept me wanting to see out the conclusion of the game’s story, the voice talent did a good job of portraying the urgency of the situation without being to over the top. HAWX 2′s story has been told a few times before but because the development team did not force it down my throat I enjoyed every cut scene from start to finish.
HAWX 2 does have a few online features such as 4 player coop and competitive team based matches as well as one-on-one battles. The modes were all very enjoyable but it took me several attempts to start a game successfully. More often than not the server dropped the game and I had to wait fairly long to get the lobby filled with players.
Ubisoft took the good technical platform from last year’s release and built upon it. The game isn’t perfect and certainly has a few areas that need improvement. An over-cumbered interface during the fast paced missions and the lacking online infrastructure harm the experience a bit but HAWX 2 does a great job of putting the player into a high pressure situation while using the tools to execute objectives with precision.
Score: 7.5 / 10
Tom Clancy’s HAWX 2 was developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 7th. A copy of the Xbox 360 version was provided to us by Ubisoft for reviewing purposes.