Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 Preview
Long-time fans of the genre continue to call for a new Ace Combat but you know, if you take a long, hard look at Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2, you may forget all about your painful longing. For Ubisoft Romania appears to have everything you need, right here in a spruced-up sequel that features a plethora of upgrades and additions, which serve to enhance the already-glossy exterior. Taking place in the near future, three nuclear devices have gone missing and Middle Eastern and Russian insurgencies have thrown the world into a state of near-panic. You will watch this story unfold from three contrasting perspectives; one moment, you’ll be concentrating on the US H.A.W.X. squadron, and the next, you’ll be viewing the drama through the eyes of the British Navy. There’s a global conspiracy afoot and somehow, someway, the truth will be revealed…the narrative might really impress you.
To assist in the development and implementation of this aforementioned narrative, Ubisoft has tapped the abilities of ex-BioWare employee Edward Douglas, who is now the creative director for H.A.W.X. 2. In speaking to IGN, Douglas – who recently helped with Mass Effect 2 – said his first goal was to really give the storyline a boost. He mentions that in the first H.A.W.X., we only had one point of view; “you didn’t really know who you were in the world.” But in this sequel, you will see a blossoming of character development and dialogue, thereby allowing you to examine multiple scenarios from different angles and contributing to the story’s depth. While many flight games have attempted to boast decent plots in the past, few have really succeeded; this may be the very first example of a title in the genre that captivates its audience through solid story construction. Of course, the focus will remain on the flying and the designers have spared no effort in making the gameplay top-notch.
It appears that diversity and variety will be key. Instead of constantly winging about in the air, engaging in dogfight after dogfight, you will participate in many different types of missions, all of which line up with that interesting story. Essentially, Ubisoft really wants to place you in the cockpit like never before; they want you to know what it’s like to take off and land, and some of the control will indeed take place on the ground. As Douglas said- “When you're in the briefing room or the carrier, or when you're in the control room, you're not just floating in the air. Maybe you're at a computer, controlling an unmanned aerial vehicle, or talking to contacts on the ground.” At the same time, despite the added dose of authenticity, Ubisoft still says the flying mechanic is actually more accessible than before. This time, you’re going to be “a lot closer” to the action, which should ramp up the intensity level, and you will have several difficulty options to choose from. …not everyone wants the same experience, right?
The various gameplay aspects are what really intrigue us. AC130 Gunship support missions, aerial raids during the cover of night, assisting ground forces, espionage sorties, and even piloting UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) will all be included, so you won’t be getting tired or bored any time soon. You can either wing about by yourself or take on the campaign in co-op mode for up to four players, via System Link or online, and Ubisoft says there will be plenty of improvements for the online competitive and team-based elements. Lastly, there’s the clear upgrade in terms of visuals, which you can sort of see in the new batch of screenshots. The detail is higher and more elaborate than ever and with slick special effects, Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2 should definitely shine on a good HDTV. You may be waiting for October’s typical set of blockbusters but well before then, you can try a potential top-quality title right here; it launches on September 7, flight aficionados.
8/3/2010 Ben Dutka