H.A.W.X. 2 Review
Developer: Ubisoft Romania
Available on: Xbox 360, PS3, PC (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Time to grab your aviator sunglasses and start with the Top Gun quotes. HAWX 2 is here, offering another jump into the Tom Clancy universe. The previous game received average reviews and people complained that the plane models were not accurate. Fortunately, the developers have done their research this time, bringing in real life fighter plane manufacturers to give you that realistic feel. They have also, once again, worked with GeoEye for satellite imagery, which had some criticism in the previous game due to pixelation at low altitudes. So, have Ubisoft have pulled this one out of the bag or have they been shot out of the sky? Read on for the full review.
[singlepic id=218 w=320 h=240 float=left]STORY: You play as three different characters throughout the game, an American from HAWX squadron, a British pilot and a Russian pilot; all with separate story lines that will inevitably join together. The story also runs inline with the upcoming Ghost Recon: Future Soldier game which is due for release next year.
With the HAWX squadron fighting in the Middle East, the Russians dealing with rebel insurgents in their own homeland during a coup and the British dealing with hijacked passenger aircraft during a training exercise, you would think the game has quite a deep story. However, that is not the case as the story tends to stick mainly with the HAWX squadron. It’s a little disappointing, but makes sense once everything comes together. There are twists and turns aplenty just like you would expect with any Tom Clancy title, with espionage and treachery afoot. It must be said, even though the story is quite well scripted, it was a little hard to follow at times. There are some nice little touches though, such as throwbacks to other Tom Clancy games. Fans of the Splinter Cell games might want to keep a look out for a certain GRU operative.
GRAPHICS: HAWX 2 game is stunning to look at and very well designed in most parts. All of the ground and mountain graphics are highly detailed and a credit to the developers. The cloud cover whilst dog fighting is great to look at, as are the explosions of the enemy aircraft. It’s actually possible to get wiped out by mid-air plane wreckage, something which is very impressive to watch whilst you try and hold on for dear life! However, the result of an explosion, when you accidentally stack your plane into a mountain or the sea is a little underwhelming. There appears to be no wreckage. Kaboom, flames, smoke and…well, that’s it. No flying shrapnel and no evidence of a wrecked plane whatsoever.
[singlepic id=220 w=320 h=240 float=right]As mentioned earlier, for the most part the game looks fantastic, but the character models are just downright awful. The faces look like they are made out of plastic and some almost look like Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face in the Batman Forever film, though not as mental. Also, the lip movement of the characters is atrocious! Some look like a Thunderbird puppet attempting to speak and others…well, last time I checked, people don’t talk by disengaging their jaw from the rest of their damn head! Unless, you’re Terrence or Phillip from South Park.
The planes themselves are the standout graphical entity, you can really tell the developers have paid more attention to them this time around. A little more detail could have been added to the panels, but apart from that they look great.
SOUND: The sound effects and music featured in HAWX 2 is are also of a high quality. The tutorial missions have a rather quiet tone, with just the normal sound effects accompanying the gameplay. When you get into the game proper there is a typical rocky soundtrack playing in the background and it really give the a nice blockbuster, action movie feel. The character voices are a slight let down as when they speak to you over the radio it can be a little hard to hear or understand what they are saying.
GAMEPLAY: The gameplay, much like the original HAWX, is very good, even if the controls for the planes can be a little too sensitive and fiddly. You do eventually get the hang of them, but at times when your trying to line up a shot you have to use some serious fine adjustment. This is definitely the case when you’re refuelling mid-air.
[singlepic id=221 w=320 h=240 float=left]The dog fighting is the star of the show though, it’s excellent. It is really satisfying when you pull off a maneuver behind an enemy plane and then blast them out of the sky. The ground attack parts of the game are interesting too. Raining down death on enemy positions is almost as satisfying as taking out a plane. The UAV and Goliath missions also provide some fun, even if the latter is almost an exact copy of content included in Modern Warfare.
As you progress through the game you gain experience and tokens that you can use to purchase and upgrade your collection of aircraft, all of which can be used in the multiplayer modes. The multiplayer itself boasts four player co-op in separate missions and the story mode as well. At the time of reviewing this game, it was hard to test this facet of the game out properly as there weren’t many people populating the multiplayer modes.
You also have the team battle mode which is fun and can lead to some intense dogfights. However, it is one shot, one kill (unlike the main game, where it takes a couple of missiles to shoot down an enemy) so you need to have some awesome plane handling skills to survive for a serious amount of time. Other modes include Survival (which is self explanatory) and Arcade mode (single player and co-op), which is essentially the story mode missions with extra twists such as different camera modes.
LONGEVITY: If you love your dog fighting action then HAWX 2 will keep you playing for quite a while. The story mode alone will last you a good 15-20 hours. Then you have the co-op content, which will give you and friend a good, enjoyable experience, but it’s doubtful that you will go back to it once you’re done…unless you’re a huge fan of the genre.
VERDICT: For the most part, HAWX 2 is an enjoyable flight game which provides some genuinely thrilling dogfight scenarios. It strikes a really nice balance between simulation and arcade style gameplay. However, it is not without its flaws. The missions could certainly do with a little more substance, the character models need some serious work and it would help if the game was a little more easier to follow. For newcomers, it might be a little daunting, but if you’re a fan of the previous game or just love the genre then HAWX 2 is definitely worth a purchase.