Tom Clancy’s Hawx 2: review

  • Format: PS3 (version reviewed), 360, Wii, PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Developer: Ubisoft Romania
  • Players: 1 (+Online Multiplayer)
  • Site:

The original Hawx was a pretty decent action flight sim with a tie-in to the Tom Clancy franchise. This sequel promises a few new features and additions, including a new four player co-op mode. But does this new game satisfy budding Maverick’s or has it’s Goose been well cooked?

The plot of this sequel involves the Hawx squadron being assigned to the Middle East, where there are insurgents causing all types of problems, and there is the mystery of some missing Russian nuclear weapons to solve. To be honest the plot is pretty forgettable nonsense that evokes Modern Warfare 2, with plenty of over the top sequences and unlikely scenarios. However there are some nice nods to some of Clancy’s other games, such as the Ghost Recon series, which helps tie the Clancy universe together.

The scenery in Hawx 2 is often breathtaking.

The gameplay alternates between traditional dogfighting and bombing missions, that are very similar to the Modern Warfare UAV night time bombing raids, and are equally as much fun. Sometimes you are tasked with taking out tanks, boats or other targets, on the ground or out at sea, which helps add some variety to the proceedings. Nearer the end of the game things get a lot tougher, such as when you have to defend an aircraft carrier against opposing ships, as well as attacking aircraft, and there is also an impressive assault on Moscow which gets the adrenaline pumping.

The UAV bombing missions evoke the Call of Duty Modern Warfare series.

From a visual point of view the game is extremely impressive, with some stunning vistas and landscapes that look just as detailed close up as they do from far up in the sky. The planes all control just as you’d imagine, although to be honest there doesn’t appear to be much to differentiate between any of them. The dogfighting and bombing missions are all very satisfying, and taking down a tricky enemy fighter is especially pleasing. Taking off from a runway or aircraft carrier is relatively easy to master, although landing can be quite tricky, and there were several times when we thought we were on target to land, only to clip the side of the ship we were trying to land on.

This poor collision detection is also evident elsewhere in the game, such as when you are flying close to the ground, and just as you think you are soaring back into the sky, the game decides that you crashed. This can get quite annoying, but on the last mission, which sees you attempting a Star Wars trench run manoeuvre, it gets downright maddening, with your fighter regularly clipping the roof and walls of the tunnel, even though you’re not remotely close to them. Considering the tunnel is straight, this level should be a lot easier than it is, and nearly spoils the good work done in the inspired levels that came before it.

The cockpit view is well realised.

The AI is also a hit or a miss, with the enemies at the start being simple cannon fodder, but then at a certain point in the game, they turn into superhuman and simply untouchable super pilots. You end up simply shooting with your cannon rather than wasting missiles, as enemy planes drop an endless supply of flares to constantly foil your attacks. Enemy fighters also regularly have missiles locked onto you, which you need to avoid by doing the age old loop-the-loop manoeuvre. The trouble is you end up having to do this move most of the time, and resort to using your cannon to take down enemy fighters, as getting a missile lock is near impossible. This means these dogfights can go on for around half an hour. It’s certainly not something you can imagine Tom Cruise struggling with in Top Gun.

Some poor collision detection can make this canyon run really tricky.

The online part of the game has a co-op mode that lets you play some of the single player missions with up to three friends, which is a lot of fun. It is in many ways superior to the single player mode, where your wingmen don’t offer much assistance when you’re up against an aircraft carrier full of enemy fighters. There is also a competitive online dogfighting mode which is much the same as the first game, but with the addition of perks, new planes to unlock, and the obligatory levelling up system. This is available to eight players, but if you are new to the game, it can be quite daunting facing up to fully kitted out ace pilots, and you do find yourself being beaten down by the more experienced players, which may put new players off.

Hawx 2 is probably the top aircraft shooter out at the moment, but there aren’t many games out there to challenge its aerial superiority. It’s a solid game, but the flaws just stop it from being a must have title. It also gets a tad repetitive, but that’s really the genre’s fault rather than the game itself. We’d like to see the series merging with an FPS like Ghost Recon, which would give the game some much needed variety, and take the co-op part of the game to a new level. Imagine a co-op mode much like the Spec Ops part of Modern Warfare 2. But if you’re itching to play an aircraft shooter, then you can’t go wrong with this title. So dig out the aviator shades and get the Top Gun soundtrack on, and take a trip into the Danger Zone!


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Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

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