Tom Clancy's HAWX 2 Hands-On

We re-enlist with the High Altitude Warfare eXperimental squadron in this air combat sequel--now with takeoffs and landings.

Tom Clancy's HAWX 2 puts you back in the cockpit of various modern or cutting-edge fighter planes, though this time the aerial combat is split across US, Russian, and British campaigns. The story isn't a direct continuation of the first game's mercenaries-versus-US plot, but it has "much more depth," according to narrative director Edward Douglas, thanks to its multiple international perspectives. Though the plot isn't laid bare in our demo, we gather it involves mounting insurgent activity in the Middle East and Russia. As the game begins, a nuclear missile has disappeared from a Russian military base, and in the tutorial mission Contact (described in our first look at the game), an insurgent convoy launches an attack on a US air base in a desert at the edge of the conflict.

Too close for missiles, I'm switching to guns.

The most obvious difference from the first game is the presence of takeoffs and landings, including taxiing to the base runway in the first mission; in 2009's HAWX, missions began and ended in the air, with your plane already cruising towards your waypoint. "We want to give you the full experience, from when the pilot gets in the plane to when he gets out again," said Douglas. "In HAWX 1, you spawned in in third-person view in the air, the missions ended that way, you never knew who you were or why you were there."

That fuller, more authentic experience of modern air warfare goes further than runways and landing gear, adding aerial espionage with unmanned aerial vehicles, stealth missions with night raids, and gunship missions to the mix, as well as midair refuelling and precision bombing. We jumped ahead in the campaign to Interception Course, set in southern Russia, where separatist leaders have been surrounded and pinned down in the Caucasus Mountains. Separatists, meanwhile, had captured a Russian military base and taken cargo planes and bombers and were en route to rescue their leaders.

As a Russian military pilot in a Mig-29 Fulcrum, armed with heat-seeking missiles and flares, we flew with our squad to intercept the rescue attempt. The basic flight controls in HAWX 2 are mostly unchanged, and the same first-person cockpit view and third-person view from just behind the tail are available, along with the "assistance off mode," which flips you into a remote perspective some way behind your plane and enables more advanced manoeuvres (though at the risk of stalling as you attempt them).

After lining up to intercept and then delivering a final warning to the separatists, our squad was ambushed by a swarm of fighter planes, triggering an all-out dogfight over the peaks of the snowcapped mountain range. This combat resembles the familiar patterns of HAWX before long--circling, air-braking, tracking targets to get a missile lock-on--but is occasionally broken up by more inventive enemy AI; in this mission, enemy pilots tended to get in close, making lock-on trickier, and tried to outmanoeuvre us through the steep-walled valleys. Unlike in the first HAWX, there's no system for issuing commands to AI wingmen, but the whole game will be playable in up to four-player co-op.

"We're really trying to make dogfights a lot closer, more personal," said Douglas. "The way the weapon system works will encourage you to fight at different ranges, different AIs will use different tactics… some will use flares more, [for some] you'll have to use cannons versus fire-and-forget missiles."

The rocky, mountainous terrain, partly obscured by clouds, looks good, as do the grass and trees further down the slopes; a low flyover doesn't expose the kind of blocky textures present in the original game. As in HAWX, though, the game maps draw on real satellite data, with some as large as 130km by 130km.

After taking down the separatist fighters, we were denied permission to return to base by a presumably soon-to-go-rogue Russian general, who bemoaned weak-willed politicians and told us to refuel instead so we could defend a Russian withdrawal from the region. This set our objective on a distant tanker aircraft, requiring that we match speeds and line up with it by flying through a green hoop in midair--an element of the augmented reality pathfinding Enhanced Reality System (ERS) left over from the original game.

The ERS is gone from the general dogfighting, however, meaning you won't be pursuing targets through a series of hoops. "We found the ERS was very helpful in the first HAWX to find other players and ground targets in dogfights," said Douglas, "[but] we found the air combat mechanics we developed for the second game got to a better level where… we didn't need nearly so many assists and handholding for the player. It's still there for landings and certain precise bombing targets, if you want assistance." With a five-minute time limit to refuel, we had to approach the refuelling craft with gradual acceleration and delicate, precise manoeuvring--a change of pace from the wild, wide loop-the-loops we generally navigate our dogfights with.

Jumping ahead again to another American mission, Oil City, we were back in the pilot seat of a US fighter, packing air-to-surface missiles and heat-seekers and launching from the deck of a US aircraft carrier. The mission, set over the ocean at sunset, had us defending friendly forces by taking out antiaircraft sites on oil rigs and shooting down enemy helicopters. This meant prioritising targets that were threatening friendly units, flipping between missile types, and picking off targets as the health percentage of our allies ticked down.

Make sure your seat and tray table are in their full upright position.

Once the helicopters were down and antiaircraft sites near the oil rig's airstrip had been subdued, the strip became available for landing. This meant lining up, adjusting pitch, and lowering landing gear for touchdown. There isn't the depth or complexity of a full-on flight sim, but we're told later missions will add further challenge to takeoffs and landings. We're told in the final game these will range from straightforward runway affairs to nighttime aircraft landings and emergency takeoffs under fire, and other missions in the game will allow for landing and rearming mid-mission.

Like the original HAWX, it seems HAWX 2 aims to combine arcadey accessibility with the sheen of Tom Clancy near-future military authenticity. And, between expanding the experience to refuelling, takeoffs, and the like, adding in mission types, and advancing the enemy pilot AI, it should do so with greater variety come September 3, 2010.

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Discussion

67 comments
mihallacko
mihallacko

when r they releasing it fur PC, I just CAN'T wait anymore...

TStilwell
TStilwell

Just finished playing the demo and I really like the addition of things like the mid-air refueling and the take off and landing on the carrier. It really does add a sense of immersion to the game. Sort of like the autopilot features in the old Wing Commander games.

kevingarnerry
kevingarnerry

goood competition its gonna be nice to see who gets the crown...hawx should be in the lead cause they are gonna get atleast 7 months head start ahead of ace combat: assault horizon. may the best flight sim win atleast i know i am getting both games...

redalertgamer
redalertgamer

this sounds great im a big hawx fan and cant wait for hawx 2 but everything they just described is in ace combat 6 another game im a big fan of. i guess its a good thing theyre being more like ace combat because that franchise is amazing.

Ghosthunter54
Ghosthunter54

It sounds like they put in all the stuff that should have been in the first game to begin with. I am officially excited now.

Cocoloto
Cocoloto

OMG.I can belive Ubisoft Romania made hawx 2.I live in Romania and i never belive romania can make a game like this.Is very cool.And from images i thiks it will be more cool to controle the V-22 OR SU-47.

supertomcat84
supertomcat84

@ BFE1127 Yeah! i hope you right, as long as it can make HAWX 2 more interesting and fun. Sure get it when it release.

BFE1127
BFE1127

@supertomcat84, good observation. I think the image may be mirrored because they have the correct placement on the F-16C/F-2, hard to tell which model it actually is, but they have it wrong on the F-16 with the digital camo. I'm not sure how we made the leap from F-16 to Gripen, but oh well. Surely they'll have it all correct in the finished game. The aircraft models in HAWX 1 were great, the flight characteristics were crap, but the models were great. By the same token, Tom Clancy knows more about the future of military aviation than all of Gamespot combined so maybe he has an inside trac on a new F-16 variant with a right hand cannon? I wouldn't mind an F-16AM with dual cannons and a death ray, unrealistic as it gets but it would be fun.

topherfilms
topherfilms

Hopefully those landings won't be as infuriating as Top Gun on the NES.

iluminat23
iluminat23

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Overlord_slave
Overlord_slave

liked ace combat this should be good... shoulden it?

BFE1127
BFE1127

Looks great, sounds great (the vids anyway), so now the big question: When do we get the demo?

Henoch
Henoch

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

senatorHunter
senatorHunter

i really Enjoy and i guess every aviation student will enjoy it.in addition HAWX 2 has takeing off and landin.

neil108
neil108

I tried HAWX. Was way to arcadey for me. I've played the original MS flight simulator games and even Red Baron games back in the day. There hasn't been a decent flight sim in a long time. Heck, it doesn't even have to be a flight sim, just make it feel authentic rather than a run and gun shooter in the sky.

nhall00195
nhall00195

about time they added takeoffs and landings. A flight game without takeoff/landing=RETARDED

CaptainAhab13
CaptainAhab13

This game looks incredible... the flight sim I've been waiting for. Can't wait!

spyder_pk
spyder_pk

Wow!! We'll be able to take off and land planes?!! Woot!!?? I really missed this in HAWX.. great if they are adding this.. adds that bit of realism and feel that HAWX was missing :P Ill get a new computer if I have to for this game..

spyder_pk
spyder_pk

I'm really excited abt this game and Fifa11 on PC.. for those of you who dont know it seems EA is finally bringing the award winning gameplay for FIFA11 from console to PC.. I loved HAWX.. there isnt a better flight combat game on PC..

supertomcat84
supertomcat84

@Midnightfalcon9 i once working on F-16C CG Modeling, just wondering is that cannon place correct?? all my references show the cannon place on the left hand-side from the pilot seat. Please Take No Offenses...!

supertomcat84
supertomcat84

@Midnightfalcon9 i mean the F-16 with the desert color inside one of the screenshot, of course not the gripen, the Gripen looks good enough...! or checkout the official website...!!

Midnightfalcon9
Midnightfalcon9

@ supertomcat84 It would be......if it wasn't for the fact its a Saab Gripen, not an F-16

supertomcat84
supertomcat84

just wondering is the F-16's cannon model on a wrong side?? should it be place on the left, not on the right...??

toothofymir
toothofymir

Hooray, no more air-to-air ERS! Made HAWX 1 way too easy.

supertomcat84
supertomcat84

really hope "assistance off" mode can set on/off on menu for all views... not like first H.A.W.X. can't push to full performance of the aircraft when dog-fighting on third-person view...!! and just a little bit adjustment for the aircraft animation during cut-scenes... the rest is cool and sure get a copy if H.A.W.X 2

Hermes33
Hermes33

Any new flight sim, albeit dumbed-down arcade games like this are a good thing. The more, the better. What we really need though, is a different setting other than the tired-old USA vs "insurgents" propaganda. It's a joke. For example, how many flight sims are there where you play the lead role as a WWI or WWII German Luftwaffe ace (with a story to go with it)? Or how about a 1950's Korean War flightsim (where the story revolves around you as a Russian pilot)? Originality, anyone?

zodiackilla
zodiackilla

So is this game going to be better then top gun for the NES lol

deviant74
deviant74

I want a cockpit attached to big robotic arm in my back yard for games like this.

icepop4who
icepop4who

assistance OFF moves to third person?! no no no no no no no. HAWX 1 was ruined bc of it

desolator619
desolator619

hope they have better ground textures this time around

trotter_2005
trotter_2005

i loved the first game. and the graphics was nice.. for some reason thou i didnt really get into it. not enough to make a decent comment. i look forward to this release. i heard someone mension there should have been a first person view. well i disagree with that. this isnt really a simulator it is more of an arcade shooter an thats what i like about it. an i love being outside the plane cause they look amazing. and looking across your planes wing an getting that tint/glare from the sun across a very graphical an detailed plane it just looks amazing in this game. i wasnt really into the satalite map floor etc it was a nice idea but didnt really work. think thats what put me off. But i did like the camera views. felt nice and responsive and fast.

JuiceMcGoose
JuiceMcGoose

My biggest complaint about the first Hawx was the poor instructions. In the PC version it doesn't explain the ERS where you fly through the triangles. Since this is the only way to bomb some ground targets you can only go so far in the game before you have to read the online forum in detail to figure it out. Since assistance off mode removed you from 1st person I never used it.

norcal38
norcal38

IL 2 will still be better

norcal38
norcal38

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AmarSAcharya
AmarSAcharya

I hope the story is more than just old cold war plots, and instead uses correct geopolitical concepts and alligences. if russia is having trouble in the south, india's airforce (that has airbases in russian break away republics) would come to the aid of russia (their #1 arms dealer since the 60's). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_level_of_military_equipment (sort by airplanes - you may be surprised to notice some nations that are NEVEr included in war video games to be actually ready for war)

davonas
davonas

this game looks kind of fantastic

RaymondStanger
RaymondStanger

Assisstance off mde was rubbish, as there was no first person view. Totally ruined the game for me. You should always play from first person view, if not, it is rubbish. Ace Combat on PS2 was loads better due to this fact.

ojplay
ojplay

The assisstance off mode was rubbish - turning assisstance off is a good idea but it should not mean leaping out the cockpit and looking from a different point of view. I want to stay in the plane and enjoy the ride!!

ojplay
ojplay

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

LOVERPS3
LOVERPS3

@eriktkire you're right,, and also i'm worried that's happen to namco and capcom:(

eriktkire
eriktkire

@LOVERPS3 I dunno, I think the story element of the games have been going down in quality ever since he made that trademark sale. Take the last Splinter Cell... the story just didn't live up to the standard of political intrigue in the others, and HawX 1 definitely felt like a 2nd rate Tom Clancy imitator came up with the script. That's just the impression I've had. Hopefully this and the new Ghost Recon fully live up to the Tom Clancy name, for everyone that cares.

LOVERPS3
LOVERPS3

@eriktkire oh really i didn't heard that:(but nothing will change if he sold the name to ubisoft because UBISOFT its a great too8) thank you:)

kosashu
kosashu

way to go ubi Bucharest! Looks like a great sim!

Extimor
Extimor

Sounds really awesome, seems like they have fixed all the things that was missing from the first one.

eriktkire
eriktkire

@LOVERPS3 Tom Clancy doesn't have anything to do with these games anymore. He sold the game industry rights to his name to Ubisoft years ago so now it's just a franchise name, nothing more. Hawx 2 looks really good, but the Tom Clancy brand isn't a quality-guarantee anymore .

unityskater
unityskater

I loved the first one so i hope this one is just as good or even better