Reviews

H.A.W.X 2 – Review

Release Date: Out now!
Developer: Ubisoft Romania
Publisher: Ubisoft
Singleplayer: Yes
Splitscreen: Yes
Multiplayer: 2-4 Co-op and 2-8 Competitive
PEGI: 12+

H.A.W.X 2 is for those people who want to fly a plane and shoot down the bad guys, but who won’t want to fiddle around with hundreds of controls or worry about blackouts due to high G-force.
In other words, H.A.W.X 2 is for the arcade shooter fans out there, fast paced and far from realistic where planes can carry enough missiles to take out a small country, and still have enough to take out a few planes.

Kicking off with a prologue mission that wastes no time in getting you flying, you’ll be hurtling around the skies in no time and blasting foes left, right and centre.
After that a quick tutorial in Scotland and you’re all set to embark on H.A.W.X 2’s plot which revolves around several nuclear warheads being stolen. You’ll be taking on the role of several pilots in this rather odd story which is never clear on who these bad people your blowing up actually are.
All said and one though the plot to H.A.W.X 2 is actually an enjoyable affair. The events taking place in the game are based on the events in the upcoming Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and due to it being the Tom Clancy universe you’ll find yourself helping out the Ghosts and a few others along the way.

From up high H.A.X.W 2 is quite the looker. Snow capped peaks and beautiful rivers are all on the tour thanks to the fact that the game uses real-life geography to create its map. Everywhere you bomb and every tree you crash into is all accurately mapped from the real world using the Geo-eye tech.
But it’s a rather mixed bag, get in close to the terrain and houses and it looks like something from the old Xbox days. Textures look rather poor and houses look flat.
Some cut-scenes look pretty good whilst others can look rough, especially those that use the game’s engine to power them.
Even odder was encountering AA fire coming from the side of a cliff when there was nothing there.

But graphics aside, as with any game it’s the gameplay that counts more.
Taking off and landing has now been added thanks to high fan demand and it’s pretty fun to land your plane after coming in from a stupid angle and insane speeds. Landing on Aircraft carriers is even more fun as you aim for the bobbing piece of metal that seems freakishly small.
You even get to refuel your plane mid-flight now via a sort of mini-game which see’s you carefully lining up the planes. It’s pretty tense and enjoyable. For those that feel a little nervy both this and landing can be done assisted as well. Hurrah!

Combat is what it’s all about though and H.A.W.X delivers for the most part and rather fails on others.
Get in close and H.A.W.X 2 works its magic as you dodge missiles whilst trying to outmaneuver your enemy. Learning how to predict turns and line up the perfect shot is good fun, especially when you take someone out with nothing but the cannons and fly through the wreckage.
Likewise ground attack can be fun. Going low the ground and strafing the enemy is a thrill as you swoop through buildings and trees.

However when it comes to simply firing a few missiles at longe range it does rather begin to feel a bit dull. Missions slowly begin to get repetitive but it is rather helped by an upgrade system that is, oddly, not really mentioned in-game. You can choose new upgrades such as extra missile damage and unlock more planes to use in the games other modes such as Survival – which puts you against waves of enemies – and an Arcade mode.
It’s not really helped by a rather hit ‘n’ miss AI. During the first few hours they’ll seem pretty happy to fly in a straight line leading to easy kills. But around three-quarters of the way through and it suddenly spikes with AI planes being damn hard to get a lock on and having an apparently infinite supply of Chafe to deflect your missiles.
This may have been done on purpose to make you get in close with cannons but it’s incredibly annoying.

Still though, flying the planes is a joy and each feel different and unique as you trash up their paint work. Free-flight is present and correct if you just want to take one out for a spin. You can double tap the throttle to enter an outside view that allows you to pull off some pretty awesome moves. In combat though this mode can be mildly confusing until you get used to it all.
32 aircraft are on offer here, from the Russian Mig’s to the ultra sweet F22 and F35 you get to fly a wide selection of planes. Though oddly the harrier is missing its vertical take-off and landing ability.

The singleplayer is broken up by the occasional mission which lets you take control of a Drone. Sometimes you have to track cars, others you have to drop trackers on targets. While it’s a nice distraction it does feel a little out-of-place in a flight game and following cars does get boring fast.
Other diversions include a mission which may be familiar to Modern Warfare players as you become a gunner in an AC130 while defending ground troops.
It’s a nice distraction and quite fun, sadly the mission lasts far too long.
Still though, piloting a stealth bomber and doing a night-time bombing run is a moment to remember.

The game also relies heavily on defense based missions which can become old quickly. But for every such mission you’ll find a mission which see’s you hurtling through a valley at low altitude which keeps you smiling. Sadly these moments don’t come often.

Ultimately, when it all comes together H.A.W.X 2 offers some close combat thrills but dodgy AI and some rather dull missions hamper what should have been a blast.

The Good:
+ Coming into a Carrier landing at stupid angles and landing it!
+ Pulling of a beautiful curving turn that wipes out three enemies.
+ Using the AC130’s guns is cool!….

The Bad:
– … but seems to last forever
– I have to defend something again?
– What the hell do they have infinite flairs!?

Scores:

Graphics: 7
From up high it looks good and the plane models are solid, but get close and textures begin to look like something from the original Xbox days.

Sound: 8
Good music and rumbling engines with some half decent – if over the top – voice acting

Story: 6.5
Fairly enjoyable if a bit vague on who you’re fighting.

Gameplay: 7
Get close and it’s great, but some irritating AI and full missions don’t do this game justice.

Lifespan: 7.5
Around 12 hours to complete campaign and co-op can add time in as does multiplayer.

Overall: 7
An enjoyable and often great flight game that’s let down by a raft of little problems and a few bigger ones. If you’re a plane nut then it’s a good game for you, but others may find the missions dull.

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