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

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a cliché?

We know Tom Clancy's name is pinned to any old rubbish these days, but you can breathe a sigh of relief as this isn't a new entry in Ubisoft's Petz catalogue1 but an arcade fly-'em-up.

'H.A.W.X.' stands for High Altitude Warfare... er, X. Don't mind that '2' while you're puzzling over the ropey acronym, either, as the first game was cancelled before it arrived on Wii.

You play a mercenary pilot with a conscience. That's why, after a few missions of blasting innocents out of the sky and exploding their cars during the daily commute, you'll jack in the bad guy lifestyle for a chance to fight alongside the infamous Clancy Hawx team.

The main draw here's the aerial combat and the resulting dogfights. You control your plane's movement and speed with the nunchuk and its weapons with the remote.

Incoming missiles have a tendency to flail about in front of your cockpit giving you ample time to splash bullets in their direction, and this defensive act nicely complements the lurching turns you'll forever need to throw your plane into to keep your enemies' contrails in sight.

It's a neat system and allows a second player to take the gunnery seat without compromising player one's control.

Missions often come with a string of objectives and some even come with branching paths by way of conversation trees, but there's plenty more tucked away beyond the staple freeform flying action.

Some missions are pure on-rails lightgun shooters, others are After Burner-style 'tunnel' shoot-'em-ups.

The mission variety continues, encompassing everything from first-person helicopter warfare to top-down shooters, survival modes and even a chance to take flight as a Peregrine Falcon.


Each off-shoot has its own charms, and while some can be insultingly easy there isn't a bad apple among the lot.

There are a lot, too. The Campaign mode is gigantic, even without factoring in replay time to unlock the high-score trophies.

There's no sign of the troubles that sent the first H.A.W.X. to the boneyard. Despite the mix of styles the game's never in danger of spreading itself too thin.

It's a tad simplistic at times and the plot's cheesy beyond belief, but the raw thrill of the flights - especially during hectic later missions - rockets H.A.W.X. 2 towards the front of the plane combat crowd.

Order NGamer here and have it delivered straight to your door.

The verdict

Look beyond the shoddy exterior and there's a surprisingly rich and varied arcade flyer. It's the plane sim equivalent of a Quality Street tin