HAWX 2 Review
Take to the skies once again in this follow up to Ubisoft's Tom Clancy-inspired aerial combat simulator
There were a lot of things that I liked about the first Tom Clancy’s HAWX game, and all together I feel that this series is certainly a worthy adversary to Namco’s longer-running “Ace Combat” series, and really perhaps in many ways superior to it. Of course, it doesn’t deviate greatly from some core elements that have been a part of flight sim/combat games since some of the earliest entries to the genre. However, there are some nice additions and improvements to the classic formula of other such games to make it stand out on its own and out-fly the competition, though the main question to be asked is whether or not this second entry to the series out-flies the first. The PC version was released a number of weeks later after the consoles, but it is identical.
As far as the visuals go, there’s probably not much of a comparable difference between the first game in the series and this entry, with maybe the exception of the ground terrain and maps (created again using GeoEye satellite imagery), looking perhaps a little bit better than I remember it looking in the first game. Sound design is mostly pretty solid, as far as both the sound effects as well as the voice-overs are concerned. I feel though that the explosions and other such similar blasts should be maybe a bit louder or clearer, and also the cannon on a lot of the planes doesn’t always sound quite like I expect them to. I also kind of miss the more auditory cue that was given in the first game in regards to incoming missile attacks, though that is fairly well supplemented with a sort of “rear-view camera” that pops up in the upper-right corner of the screen during such incidents (which are quite frequent).
The gameplay and controls are in large part borrowed from the first entry as well, both favorably and to its detriment, depending on whether you’ve played the first HAWX game or not. There is some in-game tutorials and basic training to be found near the beginning of the main story mode, but the first game in the series did seem to be a little better about explaining the finer nuances of the controls, while this one tends to leave you oddly hanging at times, particularly when it comes to new elements such as mid-air refueling and landing your plane. Some of the gameplay aspects that also existed in the first installment, such as the “assistance off” mode (though more of an option, granted, in this game), are left for the player to decipher on their own.
The main single-player campaign feels much improved from the first game, with missions flowing more seamlessly into each other, not as sharply separated by distinctive breaks in the storyline, as the plot and your mission briefing are all more closely mixed together without really resorting to a mission details screen. The immersion is further improved by new gameplay addition such as taking off and landing your plane at the beginning and end of most every mission. A nice change of pace from the more traditional mission structure is also provided in the form of reconnaissance and the support of friendly ground units at times from a high-altitude spy plane or other such aerial units, which also helps to improve the story by making the player feel more involved in key elements of the plot.
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