In 2009 Ubisoft released Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. and quickly the game proved itself to be a fun arcade-like experience with a light simulation element, a strong online component, and a solid campaign. The title did reasonably well in the sales department and it was obviously successful enough for a sequel, which recently hit store shelves. How does the second set of aerial dog-fighting match up to the original?
First and foremost, H.A.W.X. 2 is a continuation of the story from the original game. David Crenshaw is back, but in a somewhat different capacity. Instead of stepping into the cockpit as him you get three other pilots from different nations who all work together for a common goal. Like other Tom Clancy projects, the plot here focuses on some turmoil in the Middle East and eventually things in Russia go south (yawn). It's familiar territory to anyone that has played other Clancy titles and there are references to characters and events from other games as well. It all comes together to make H.A.W.X. 2 feel like it fits in with the Clancy universe, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
As interesting as the story can be at times, it's really something you click through just to get to the heart of a mission. There are 20 missions in all here and H.A.W.X. 2 offers a bevy of other modes as well. In addition to the single-player campaign there's an Arcade Mode, Survival Mode, and Free Flight Mode. The game also features online co-op and multiplayer matches that support up to eight players at a time. The options all around are plentiful and the gameplay options are robust, so what makes H.A.W.X. 2 tick?
The heart and soul of this game is the dog fighting and just like the first H.A.W.X. this one has plenty to offer in that regard. Flight controls are relatively straightforward with a variety of fighter jets and armaments that really let you tailor the experience to how you play. Pitch and yaw, high speed flying, and locking on missiles all play out exactly as you would hope and the gameplay is intuitive. That's the core structure of the game, and thankfully it's good, but there are some nitpicky flaws that really take down the overall experience.