Flying simulation games, as mentioned in our other previews, can be a very tricky subject. The first Hawx game demonstrated this quite well, generating some decent reviews but nothing that will live on forever in the history of gaming. A few technical issues, an extremely short campaign, and some poorly thought-out multiplayer features left a bad taste in the mouth. Fortunately, that hasn't stopped Tom Clancy's team one bit. Hawx 2 is coming, and with it come a few changes that may make for a more memorable (and enjoyable) flight experience.
Players should immediately find that Hawx 2 provides a deeper experience, as the storyline is broken down into three overall points. The American, British, and Russian storyline will each star their own pilots and supporting characters, while at the same time participating in a larger storyline. Controls and mechanics will largely remain the same, with the obvious tweaks being made to assist in the balance. It's already a good start to improving the title, but details that make the game a little more realistic are what will sell the game.
With more a focus on general 'air warfare', players will find themselves using all kinds of aerial assaults against the enemy. Fighters and jets of all sorts will still be a part of the mix, but take-offs and landings have made their way into the game now. Additionally players will find themselves using unmanned drones, AC-130's, and other technology to shut down the opposition. Players will be utilizing these new toys to fight during the day and night, for a pretty wide variety of missions. But while the game takes in a realistic turn on one level, it also steps away from the realism in exchange for some fun.
Much of the 'fire and forget' gameplay that was featured in the first game has been abandoned in exchange for some much more engaging dogfights. Enemies will also be using more advanced fighting tactics to evade attacks, swooping in aggressively and proactively utilizing flares to throw off missiles. It sounds pretty promising, provided it works. It also means that multiplayer will be far more interesting, both Co-op and versus wise. Not only because the combat will be improved, but because four people will now be able to join up to light up the skies in a single co-op mission, with online versus holding up to 8v8 matches.
Visually Hawx 2 still looks as fantastic as the first one, better in fact since more detail has been focused on the ground forces. The topography looks great, and makes for some nice background visuals while you're blowing up things all over the world. A nice treat for anyone particularly interested in having a detailed environment, and it does show a bit of care from the developers in the 'flesh out the world properly' department.
Overall Hawx 2 does look like a pretty large improvement over the first, and seems to be hitting many of the bases that were missed in the first game. Flight sim fans should be quite satisfied considering it's not too often a good game shows up in the genre, and Tom Clancy fans should be easily amused since his name is quite clearly on the box. As for the rest of the world, I get the feeling we won't be too disappointed. As long as the extra vehicles don't take away from the core 'dog fighting' experience that the developers are trying to promote, we could have an extremely solid title to look forward to.