Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X 2 gameplay preview

Hands-on: We dive into the cockpit of Ubisoft's latest...

When Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X was released last year, it entered a fierce dogfight with some serious aerial combat challengers.

A three way duel between H.A.W.X, IL-2 Sturmovik and the ever-popular Ace Combat 6 didn't end spectacularly for Ubisoft - with some middling reviews.

But having enjoyed a hands-on with Ubisoft's brand new sequel, we're pleased to report that lessons have been learnt; and that the H.A.W.X team has manoeuvred itself into a better position for its second approach.

The set-up for H.A.W.X 2 is nothing out of the ordinary. Once again, those pesky insurgents have increased their nefarious activities and kicked off a war on a global scale.


A trio of apocalypse-ready nuclear warheads have been pinched from a Russian airbase - and all eyes point towards the insurgents setting off bombs all over the ex-Soviet heartland and the Middle East.

There are largely three 'good guy' stakeholders in the game: The US H.A.W.X team (remember them?), the British Navy, and an elite Russian special forces.

You're tasked with ending the turmoil and bringing normality back to the free world - and you've a choice of 32 licensed planes with which to do it. These include monstrous fighter-jets, armed to the teeth with missiles and future-tech.

The single-player offering of H.A.W.X 2 aims for a deeper and more involving experience than the first game; and to that end, players are no longer limited to aerial warfare.

The game now covers all aspects of piloting a jet - from navigating your bird to the runway and finishing with a tricky landing. Those looking for the full fighter pilot experience can look forward to winding down from a particularly tense dogfight with a graceful precision landing.

The opening mission plonks us in an F-16 in the middle of sand-swept region. Runways play a much bigger role this time round - and taking off and landing will no doubt become a little more frantic as attacks reign in later it the game.

It's not long before we're airborne, checking up on various dodgy-looking ground activity across the desert plain - in and around our Saudi base. Streams of huts and trucks whip under our vision, all offering no threat despite appearances.

It doesn't take long for the big alert to come in: 'Suspicious convoy'. That'll be who we're looking for, then.

One the helicopters riding with us is explosively taken down with a grenade from below, and our target is made conspicuously clear against the sandy backdrop.


We get to test out H.A.W.X 2's weaponry - in this case, missiles, rockets-pods and an auto-cannon - and go immediately for the big guns.

When it comes to combat using fighter-jets, subtlety isn't usually high on the list of priorities. However, Ubisoft Romania has included 'precision weaponry' to minimise collateral damage - and that's exactly where our choice of attack sits.

Having fired, our camera switches to the missile's viewpoint and steers it to our target for maximum impact - without hurting too many innocents, of course. It's impressive stuff - and another neat addition to the more single-tone experience of its predecessor.

H.A.W.X 2 adds a number of new gameplay scenarios to the established dodge and destroy formula. Recon missions that require you to simply check up on high-priority locations, track convoys or investigate potential threats are used to mix-up the pace and give the player a breather from all the breakneck turns and devastating explosions.

  1 2