Plenty of dog fights are ready for you in the next chapter of the air-combat shooter maneuvers of Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. (High Altitude Warfare Experimental Squad). Published by Ubisoft and developed by Ubisoft Romania, HAWX 2 is set to put you in a fighter jet and fight for justice and peace in the great environments set for you. The game is not your average simulator since the game takes an arcade approach to the genre, so you don’t have the need for sophisticated controllers and a huge manual to just get the fighter on the air, thou having a flight stick controller will help you indulge into the role.
As all Tom Clancy’s games, the plot of the game is an intense solid story which involves a nuclear threat set in the future and it take time just after the first game where the squadron is sent to the Middle East forming part of the private military company named Artenis. After a mysterious disappearance of a Russian nuclear weapon, your job is to investigate this incident and of course preserve the peace in the world. You will gain control of three pilots being an American, British and Russian with some reference to some characters in the Tom Clancy series.
When you start off, the game immediately shows a pretty good first impression with its highly detailed satellite-like environments and planes. The graphics really boost the game experience and will make you use the free flight mode, just to stay viewing the scenery. Thou when you fly very low you will notice some discrepancies with low quality textures in the buildings or scenery, but the ground still looks decent. Well, in a dog fight you wouldn’t fly so low, but another thing I have noticed is that the collision detection isn’t well calculated. For instance if when I was in flying the plane in the third person view and tried to fly under a bridge, although I was not close with the bridge, my plane crashed in it. I am taking note of this since in some missions you will be going low and in narrow spaces, so try not to go so near when flying under a bridge. Also the AI intelligence is a bit inconsistent since in the first half of the game the AI is quite easy, but at least the challenge increases quite much further more in the game.
Ubisoft have also introduced the landing and takeoff features for the players where you will have to land or takeoff your fighter at the beginning and the end of a mission. During takeoff, you will have a meter to show you the ideal speed when you can pull your stick to fly. When landing you will have some simple button controls to lower your gear and begin your descent. For the arcade kind-of players, the system offers a guided system to help you descent in-line with the runway. Basically these are markers in the air, which you have to fly through to perform the perfect landing. The same guide can be used when targeting the enemy so as to get a better lock-on to fire your missiles. For the pro pilots, this option can be disabled, but for players who are new to the air-combat games, it could be quite handy until getting to know your way. Another similar feature which comes by the name of Assistance mode, will give you safety procedures to help you during your flight which prevent you from stalling, which will help you do those tricky maneuvers or better lock on your target. If you feel you are ready to be a pro, you can always turn the Assistance off.
Although this is an arcade style game, it could be a bit difficult to control with your standard controller but with the help of a flight stick, it would be easier to fly around. I am not saying that the controls are bad, but it’s not an instant job to get the hand of it. Talking about the controls, Ubisoft have added the voice-control command which is a neat add-on that you can set to shoot missiles or bullets to your enemies. Try not to use voice-command while using headphones since it will make you look like a crazy person in the middle of the night shouting ‘Fire’ with family members, hehe. Apart from that, the game has a very friendly HUD and it will be easy for you to master ground bombing and target lock your enemies with the maneuver’s guide. The HUD will also display a small rear camera view when you have a missile on your back which will help you evade it at the last moment or fire a flare, depending on the situation.
Apart from the dogfights, HAWX 2 will allow you to control aerial vehicles for surveillance (UAC) missions as well as control the turret of an AC-130. The UAC missions are a bit boring since you will just spy on buildings or follow unidentified vehicles. Then again this makes a turn to the best, when you control the AC-130; you will have a huge fire power at your disposal to destroy your targets. The game’s forte thou, remains the air-combat but these small add-ons do the trick so as not to get bored.
The single-player campaign will give you about 15 hour of gameplay but HAWX 2 has a great replay-ability since you will increase your XP and you can always join your friends online to play it in co-op mode. Also for the single-player, there is the arcade mode, survival mode and the free flight mode. You will play with 32 different planes from the American, British and Russian warfare. The single-player campaign suffers a bit when having very long distance opponents and you have to chase them while dodging missiles from your back, but at least the game has a very good checkpoint system which splits a mission into a good number of replay points.
In the multiplayer mode, the system is more robust and solid from the first release of the series. The co-op mode features a four player system which you can either play specific campaign missions; play through all the campaign and the arcade mode. The team battles are up to 8 players which run very well online, especially when having intense dogfights. The multiplayer modes feature perks which can be earned by gaining XP or increasing your level. These perks include new planes or new abilities.
HAWX 2 shines in the air-combat and its great experience in the dogfights. The game is quite fun, especially when playing the arcade mode or the co-op mode with your friends. It features a great in-game soundtrack which will boost your experience along with great graphics.