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Written by Dan Ferguson   
Monday, 27 December 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X 2 PC Video Game
HAWX 2 Storyline
HAWX 2 Gameplay
H.A.W.X. 2 Extras
DirectX Comparison Tessellation
DirectX Comparison TakeOff
DirectX Comparison In-Flight
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

DirectX Comparison Tessellation

Testing Methodology

HAWX 2 plays using either DirectX 9 or DirectX 11. By default the game launches in DirectX 9. To play using DirectX 11 you must launch the game using a different executable in the install directory "HAWX2_DX11.exe". HAWX 2 includes a benchmark routine that can be launched from inside the game or as a stand-alone application (also requiring a special shortcut). This is a decent benchmarking tool if you want to evaluate system improvements or to tune your graphics settings to an enjoyable level. But outside of this there are some flaws that hinder its ability to compare across systems.

First, the HAWX 2 benchmark simply isn't rigorous enough to put a demand on newer video cards. At a 2560x1600 resolution, 8x AA, 16x AF, and tessellation "on" a GTX480 nets 78 FPS while the HD5870 nets 41FPS. In other words, even the most strenuous game settings can easily be rendered by newer video cards. Likewise even mobile GPU's can get decent frame-rates at commonly used graphics settings (see ASRock HTPC).

The second issue is the imbalance between NVIDIA and ATI cards. Most of the benchmarks I've seen between the HD5870 and GTX480 were much closer than the near 50% gap listed above. The worst I had seen on any previous benchmark put the HD5870 falling 30% short of the GTC 480. But you probably could have expected this discrepancy in both the game and the benchmark since the NVIDIA logo is plastered all over the game and ATI is not to be seen.

From the perspective of a game developer who needs to cut costs and meet arbitrary release deadlines it probably makes sense to rely more heavily on the company that consistently leads the GPU market in performance. But for a system tester trying to give a balanced view of different hardware components a biased testing tool just can't be used.

In the end the game was tested with different cards and different graphics settings to evaluate the impact on the gaming experience. Screenshots from each setting were taken and displayed for you to make up your own mind on the difference offered.

Test System

Tessellation Results

The first test was made using an HD5670 and full graphics settings. One screenshot was taken with tessellation on and another taken with tessellation turned off. The DX11 benchmark was also run at both settings to see the impact on frame-rate. With tessellation on the HD5670 drew 55 FPS max and 30 FPS average. With tessellation off it drew 91 FPS max and 51 FPS average. The images are displayed below.

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

I left the images unlabeled on purpose. Without reading ahead can you tell which picture is which?HAWX 2 was written to take advantage of DX11 tessellation.Terrain is formed by a rough height map spliced together with a bi-cubic filtering then jittered using fractal noise. After all this the tessellation is applied to draw 1.5 million triangles per frame, all on the GPU. The result with or without tessellation is quite impressive. This is definitely the best terrain I've seen in a flight game. I honestly find it difficult to see much difference between the tessellated scene and the non-tessellated scene.

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

Now for the answer; the image on bottom is the tessellated landscape. The first thing I notice is the difference in lighting. The non-tessellated image looks like the landscape is dark and blurry, like the features are smeared together. The tessellated landscape has better distinctions between small peaks, valleys, cracks and such. It makes things look more alive. But I hardly notice any of this while I'm looping endless circles. Next we'll show some larger images in which the other graphics settings are also varied.



# DRM?Bob 2010-12-28 22:24
I didn't see a single mention of the DRM in the article. (but, I did go through it quickly)

Always on internet connection required. Period.

I was really looking forward to this game, but after finding out how Ubisoft treats all customers as if they were theaves, I won't buy any more games from them.

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# RE: DRM?Doug 2010-12-28 22:35
What's funny about DRM is that I haven't purchased a single game since DRM started requiring "always on internet." So, like I want to play an RTS game while I fly from California to Europe, and but uh ho, no internet at 40,000 feet. Sorry, can't play your game.

Sorry--can't buy games anymore.

This has forced me to download pirated copies. I'd really like to support the authors of software games too, but making it impossible for me to play w/o an internet connection makes it impossible for me to play.

Thanks for posting too. It saved me the time reading something I will never use. I think restrictive DRM lke this will be the demise of computer games in favor of console games. Of course if you play MMO's, like I do, you have to be online anyway, so that's a non starter, but then there is no DRM for those games because you pay a monthly fee.
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# I'm curious about this game.Olle P 2010-12-30 05:03
Unfortunately the review adds more questions than it answers...

First we have the dogfights mentioned. Isn't modern day air combat all about avoiding dogfights?
Have your AWACS feed target data to your missiles and guide you towards the enemy. Once you're within 20 miles or so (still beyond visible range) you fire the missiles and head back home. One to two minutes later the missiles are supposed to hit their intended targets.

Next I'd like to know what type of aircraft there are in the game.

And finally I think page two should carry a spoiler warning. In my opinion it reveals quite a bit more of the story than required.
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# RE: Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X 2 PC Video Gameantoine leivaditakis 2010-12-30 07:30
I suggest that you would try to test a gtx 460 and above dx11 card of Nvidia , then you will see a much better quality of image and much better tessalation than you see on ATI cards, unfortunately.
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# RE: Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X 2 PC Video GamePearce 2011-02-28 09:52
After H.A.W.X. 2, I have no intention of ever buying a game from Ubisoft again, and I've been buying their games for many, many years.
Too much bull # these days.
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# ColJohn D 2011-07-08 18:41
What is a DRM? Guessing I am bit behind the curve. And On-line DL is a snare for the Unwary. be advised that IF you DL software there may NOT be any refund if it snags or is found to be P-Poor, like Dungeon Siege 3. As for dogfights being passe', that is what some of the idiots in pentagon thought, resulting in billions of wasted USD. Dogfights will happen and if you bring a knife to a gunfight, you will lose.IMHO, a combo unit w/ missle and guns would resolve the isse, but hey, I am retired and too old toknow what the kids like. Perhaps, that is why I am still alive while most of my conteporary(s) are dead. On a better note, the TC books and games are very challanging and good training. Even MS FSim is better than this offering, and you dont need ISP to run it.
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# RE: Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X 2 PC Video GameJohn D 2011-07-08 18:46
ADDED; I agree w/ the suggestion of lower prices to build community. Albiet, the repeditive senarios will get old. The computers can think much faster than most of us, so as Sun Tsu says, "when faced with overwhelming force, you will lose".
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# RE: Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X 2 PC Video GameDavid Ramsey 2011-07-08 18:55
DRM = Digital Rights Management, i.e. copy protection.
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# No replayAbe 2012-09-03 11:24
I usually would like to watch a replay of the mission I just accomplished and Hawx 2 on ps3 does not have that, plus the head swivel control is very limited, if you're a fighter pilot you should be able to turn your head till you can see the tail of the plane, in Hawx 2 the head barely swivels, I play ace combat 6 fires of liberation on Xbox and it does many things better then Hawx 2 , but it doesn't feel as real as Hawx 2
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