H.A.W.X 2

6.0 Overall Score

Written by on October 12, 2010 in

In a story of espionage and deception that feels all-too-familiar, H.A.W.X 2 attempts to deliver a gripping story along with some high flying combat to satiate the need for controlling a multi-million dollar piece of equipment flying at speeds approaching Mach 2.

Starting off on a routine surveillance mission, Colonel David Crenshaw’s aircraft is disabled after an attack on the airbase at which he’s stationed. With Crenshaw captured, a daring rescue attempt is initiated and the story only unravels one piece of deception after another.

Jumping back and forth between H.A.W.X pilot Hunter, British Royal Navy pilot Monroe, and Russian pilot Sokov you engage in mission after mission of taking off, dog-fighting, landing, rinse and repeat. Some of the missions change up the pace a little bit by conducting surveillance of listening in on phone conversations, placing ‘tags’ on buildings to obliterate later on, protecting a rescue attempt by the Ghosts, and, of course, more dog fighting against ridiculous odds.

Your unit, depending on which nationality you’re part of during the story, is typically between three and five strong, taking on what could be considered a horde of enemy Migs along with a massive ground assault of tanks and missile launchers.

The main focus of the story is the escalated tension between the Russian Government and the Russian Ultranationalists and their fight for control of the country. Nuclear warheads have gone missing, and you’re in a race to capture/recover them, and deliver them safely. Escort missions and protecting ground/sea forces is a popular mode in this game.

In addition to the main story campaign, there are some more single-player elements and a co-op mode to keep you busy when you’re not diving into the multiplayer maps. First off is the survival mode. Make it through 10 waves of enemies charging on your lonely self. It’s pretty much you vs. the world in a chaotic dogfight to the finish. Another mode available is the Arcade mode. This takes the story missions and adds unique twists to them. Rule limitations like cannon only, or unguided missiles on a mission where you’d used different weapons during the campaign. The different levels are unlocked as you work through the story mode the first time. It’s an engaging way to replay the story missions without just going back through the exact same story mode.

During the missions you earn EXP points, as is common in the Tom Clancy games from Ubisoft. You level up and earn additional points for completing various tasks like dodging so many missiles or destroying a set number of ground units. This, in turn, allows you to unlock different perks for upgrading your aircraft and skills. This was actually a well-hidden feature as I stumbled across it very late into the campaign, and don’t know if it helped me complete my missions or was simply for multiplayer use.

H.A.W.X 2 also implements the new UPlay (beta) previously seen in Assassin’s Creed 2 and Splinter Cell: Conviction, among some other new titles. This simply is a feature that allows you to acquire “points” to unlock a new theme for your Xbox Dashboard, or skins for your plane. You can even unlock a multiplayer map, as well.

The terrain is mapped out by the new high-resolution GeoEye™ commercial satellite imagery that brings an ultra-realistic look to the gameplay, if you have time to pay attention to the ground, that is. The graphics are nicely done and the aircraft looks good, but there are some goofy bugs that crop up from time to time. Hitting a Mig with a missile should put it right down, but instead H.A.W.X 2 deals out damage percentages so it often takes two good direct hits or a ton of fire from your cannon. Also, in an instance that should have destroyed my plane, I flew right through the aircraft of an allies plane. The collision detection didn’t appear to work for hitting an ally. Hitting an enemy the same way put my aircraft into the ground.

Camera controls are OK. The default camera stays put right behind your plane and that’s fine. Messing with the view using the right thumbstick is a cautionary tale for those subject to motion sickness as the sudden change in perspective is rather disorientating.

Multiplayer combines several elements together. Team battle with CPU controlled enemies as well, so it’s like a 2 on 1 battle for both sides. Aside from long waits in the lobby, the gameplay had very few hitches or hiccups and the action was pretty smooth. You have a variety of options with co-op to 4 vs 4 team battles. The map choices are very limited, but then again, you’re flying in the air, so the terrain on the ground isn’t that big of a deal. Damage and weaponry ‘refill’ spots open up along the ground, but chasing after them is risky as you pretty much go in a straight line to get there while being lined up for lots of missiles and gunfire. Players can jump right in and join up during a battle, so you get a lot of new faces coming and going if you’re able to really pay any attention to the alerts coming in. The action is fast and you can get a lot of points for your team if you’re quick, or a lot of time just trying to avoid missiles if the enemy is quicker.

The story leaves a lot to be desired as there is little originality, and the action becomes repetitive and loses some of the tension generated early in the game. As you get used to the controls and start bringing down enemies quickly the main frustration is getting your aircraft around into position as sometimes you just get caught in a dog-chases-tail kind of chase.

Overall, the story isn’t likely to keep you coming back for more except for completing various achievements including finishing a mission on Expert. After one playthrough, the story is tired and you’ll mostly just come back for some multiplayer action. The game is worth the first playthrough, but if you’re just in it for the single player or co-op, it’s just a rent.

H.A.W.X 2 was a surprise sequel in the Tom Clancy series, but does deliver in a realistic setting and with some entertaining combat for a while.

A copy of H.A.W.X 2 was provided to TMG for the purposes of evaluation and review.


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Author: Erik Johnsen View all posts by
A married gamer that spends time editing many of the articles you read right here at The Married Gamers. Erik sometimes reviews Xbox One games and writes articles, but spends his available free time from work or hanging out with his family hunting achievements for a higher gamerscore.

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