PS3 Reviews: Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 Review

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Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 Review

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Graphics:

 

7.4

Gameplay:

 

7.3

Sound:

 

7.1

Control:

 

7.0

Replay Value:

 

7.0

Online Gameplay:

 

7.5

Overall Rating:       7.2

 

 

Publisher:

Ubisoft

Developer:

Ubisoft Romania

Number Of Players:

1-8

Genre:

Flight

Flight games are few and far between these days (despite the recent announcement of a new Ace Combat), and it can be difficult to find a quality title if you’re a big fan of the genre. However, we have seen some pretty impressive installments this generation, including IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey, and Ubisoft’s follow-up to last year’s Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. seemed quite promising. Therefore, we went into this review with high hopes, but while the game has its fair share of highlights and pluses, it falls shy of expectations. The diversity and variety does contribute to the experience, the view from above is almost always a pleasure to behold, and there are plenty of intense, fulfilling moments. On the other hand, there’s some annoying AI, a few small control issues, and not enough distinction between the available planes. In short, it’s not quite as smooth and engaging as one might hope.

Utilizing the fancy GeoEye technology, which allowed Ubisoft to realistically implement terrain via true-to-life satellite imagery, helps to add some flash and authenticity. As I just said, things really tend to look great from the sky, especially when flying through certain exotic locales. The only downside is that the cut-scenes and in-game detail isn’t exactly finely honed, as characters and planes are little more than average in terms of visual clarity and intricate design. The effects can be pretty damn sweet, though – getting up close and personal with any given explosion boosts adrenaline – and that very nice environment is always a bonus. It’s just that the entire graphical presentation isn’t consistent, and there are times when you get close to the landscape and cringe. In some ways, it’s one of the better-looking flight titles you’ve ever played; in others, it’s an incomplete, even somewhat bland production. Sorta like a dichotomy.

There’s inconsistency in the sound, too: when fighting in close, explosions and impacts are clear and even splendid, and the voice acting isn’t too bad, either. On the flip side, other effects fall well short: for instance, when taking damage, you would expect something pretty in-your-face. After all, your plane was just hit. But you barely notice any damage, which is definitely bizarre, and all in all, the effects aren’t brought to the forefront very often. The music works, though, as the soundtrack always kicks up a notch when things are about to go crazy, and we get some appreciated tunes that enhance the satisfying flight action. The voiceovers are hit or miss but that fits with the rest of the production, now doesn’t it? Much like the visuals, there are times when you’ll love most every aspect of the sound and others when the bare spots come through.

For starters, H.A.W.X. 2 is a cross between arcade-style and simulation flight. The mechanics are semi-realistic and quite accessible, but it will take time and patience to master such agile and extraordinarily complex machines. Here, you will take off, land, perform reconnaissance, escort allies, engage in massive dogfights, go after ground targets, and even refuel in midair. Most of it works pretty well but there are a few definite hiccups, especially in regards to that midair refueling. Like most titles in the genre, you will begin by learning the basics, which isn’t supposed to be super intense and only introduces you to the core mechanics. This is a little boring but then again, what training isn’t boring? Besides, you’ll quickly notice the solid frame rate and fluidity of the action, and you’ll soon be turning, banking, rolling, and aiming with relative ease. But dedication is key.

Ubisoft puts a lot of emphasis on the story, which I happen to like. You will continually rotate between three perspectives; that of the US, UK and Russia; there’s a huge nuclear threat and to top it all off, protagonist Colonel David Crenshaw has been taken captive. During your adventure, you’ll be able to fly 32 different types of planes including the F22 Raptor and various MiGs but really, there isn’t enough difference between each model. Most flying missions feel the same from a control standpoint, regardless of your high-powered flying machine. That’s a downside but at the same time, at least you don’t have to refine your technique every time you step into a new plane. Then there’s that variety I spoke of; it can be challenging to land, but you can take advantage of the ERS (Enhanced Reality System), which almost makes the process a little too easy. …but I kinda remember how hard it can be to land in other flight games, so I’m good with the help.

There are also other missions that don’t involve flying. You’ve got surveillance missions and you can even step behind the turrets of an AC-130, which gives you a break from the standard dogfighting. The only problem here is that such missions prove unexciting; the UAV missions don’t involve much of anything besides aiming the reticule over a certain piece of land, and although I applaud the attempt at more military variety, they probably should’ve stuck with the flying. Dogfighting is the game’s highlight: the controls are both accessible and responsive, and it can get super intense when trying to take down multiple foes. At first, the AI isn’t much of a challenge but as you move forward, you’ll come across more agile and aggressive enemies. This can cause a bit of an issue, though, as you’ll have limited ammunition and in many cases, limited time. This is where that “annoying” part comes into play.

You have three difficulty levels, which means even the more casual flight fans can probably have some fun winging about the dangerous skies, but the pacing might chafe. The non-flying missions just feel too bland and during the second half of the campaign, the AI spikes and things become much more difficult. It’s just not the type of game that warrants hours upon hours of nonstop play, although I can see hardcore flight aficionados reveling in the varied objectives and mission structures. From night raids to carrier landings to perfectly timed attacks, there’s always plenty to try. It doesn’t always work as seamlessly as you would want, but at least there’s a conscious effort to bring us something new. As for the online play, I didn’t notice many problems but then again, I didn’t find many people flying around, either. The system crashed once but beyond that, there wasn’t anything notable on the positive or negative side.

Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2 is a decent flight game that needed to be tighter but still retains some semblance of entertainment. The flying itself is what matters most and despite the drawbacks, you’ll still feel your palms getting sweaty during some of the more dynamic, challenging missions. That being said, the AI spikes halfway through, the control can be iffy during specific actions, the graphics are a little inconsistent, and the special non-flying objectives don’t quite cut the mustard. It might be a good option for the hardcore, though.

9/14/2010 Ben Dutka

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Comments (28 posts)

Alienange
Tuesday, September 14, 2010 @ 10:07:49 PM
Reply

Nice review and a decent score for a game about planes. Glad to hear this one has a thicker story as I don't always get why I'm out there dropping bombs on boats and tanks. A good story, great action and 32 planes to fly? I might have a look at this.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, September 14, 2010 @ 10:22:08 PM
Reply

Da plane Boss, da plane!

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Him
Tuesday, September 14, 2010 @ 10:23:21 PM
Reply

I'm just waitin fer Ace Combat, now thats going to be amazing!

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BikerSaint
Tuesday, September 14, 2010 @ 10:46:35 PM
Reply

Ace Combat>>Hawx2

I'll just wait for this one drop to my usual used price point.

But, I WILL be buying my Ace Combat brand new.

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maxpontiac
Tuesday, September 14, 2010 @ 10:59:13 PM
Reply

I am one of the hardcore flight fans that Ben mentions, and I absolutely love it. You can read my thoughts on the game here in the review section of this site. It's right up with Ace Combat 04 in my book.

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Alienange
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 2:38:16 PM

I read your review when you posted it and you intrigued me. I wouldn't normally be interested in this kind of game but I loved the demo of the first one and your review makes it sound great. I'll most likely pick them both up when they're in my price range.

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 3:23:35 PM

Hey, send me a PSN friend request tomorrow. That will give me time to clear my list. I will gladly play the Co-op section of the game with you if you are interested.

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Gabriel013
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 1:03:22 AM
Reply

I plan on picking this up at some point. I still have HAWX in my collection.

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___________
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 3:29:38 AM
Reply

wow ben for once i actually agree with ya!
HAWX 2s biggest problem is HAWXs biggest problem, the missions.
i mean when the %$#@ are developers going to learn it is not fun constantly having to babysit people?
what its not i have to keep myself alive against 100 enemies, i also have to keep my 10 team mates who are dumb as bat sh*t alive too?
the missions are almost as bad as the original, almost but not quite.

the controls certainly dont help either, your constantly having to slow down to bomb a nearby target but slow down too much and you stall.
WTF?
the game forces you to do something, than punishes you for doing so.
they removed 2 of the best things about HAWX, the guided display the green triangles to help you around dogfights, and the assistance off mode which gave you a wide shot of your plane is now also gone!
HAWX 2 is really a case of remove good and keep bad!

the AI is so freaking dumb its not freaking funny, at times i would sit there and watch my ground units sit still while bombs were being dropped at them.
i mean if a bombs are exploding around you it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out you need to get out of there!

the graphics and sound design are actually quite good which is the only thing that stops this game from being a total disaster!
some missions are fun, like the UAV missions, others are blindingly frustrating!
im sorry ubisoft but no one plays a fighter jet game so they can babysit tanks, i want to blow suckers out of the sky, not babysit ground units!

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Axe99
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 6:28:47 AM

Assistance off is still there, although I hear they took away the gunsights from the mode, which given they gave a minimum lock distance of around 400 metres for missiles could prove a little painful! I found Assistance off really, really painful in the first HAWX, though, so haven't even bothered to switch it on in the second.

Good Review Ben - this pretty much sums up the game. I gave it a good shake last weekend, and enjoyed myself, but if there were more decent flight games out there (the last to be released was IL-2 about a year ago, and I was up for something new), I'm not sure whether I'd've given it a run. But I had fun, I was happy, and I'll play it for a couple of weeks at least :).

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Alienange
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 2:43:30 PM

It's one of the biggest reasons I haven't enjoyed flight combat games. I can hardly tell what I'm doing myself never mind figuring out how to babysit my teammates.

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Godslim
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 4:11:46 AM
Reply

nice review was expecting a score like this after the demo....mind u that might be coz im not that into these types of games

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JackC8
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 7:24:30 AM
Reply

I've been meaning to get a flight stick and IL-2 Sturmovik (which is down to $22 at Amazon now). Maybe when this gets down to a similar price range, I'll give it a look too. It sounds fairly fun.

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aaronisbla
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 7:53:36 AM
Reply

off topic here but DMC fans may never, EVER forgive Ninja Theory for what has been done to Dante, the backlash seems a lot worse than the new cole situation for infamous 2. Out of all the forums i've been to discussing this, i haven't seen one person who like sit. I will copy/paste this in the appropriate post once you make an article about it Ben if needed

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NazzyQ
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 8:47:28 AM
Reply

Totally agree, aaronisbla. Ben, I know you were dreading what a 'western touch' would do to the DMC series. Well, if you check out the trailer (@Kotaku), I think you'll find that your worst fears have been realised...

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Dridion
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 9:14:34 AM

They have to be freaking shi**ing on me cause anyone who's read my previous post on DMC knows that I freaking love that game. What they showed was complete ass. How could they ever think of rebooting the game when there was still a ton of stuff left untied. I would seriously take Nero over this fag ANY DAY. I guess this is what we get for complaining so much about Nero. But this is just going too far. It's like they did this on purposely piss us off. What are they trying to do, ruin the franchise?!!! Mission accomplished and I haven't even played the game. This westernization crap is starting to really piss me off. Sorry for vulgar rant but I'm really upset about this to say the least!

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 9/15/2010 10:19:18 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 10:19:30 AM

Yes, I know, but this is all OT.

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A2K78
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 11:36:51 AM
Reply

Great review, but as I have said I'm through playing these unrealistic flight games that are masquerading themselves as combat sims(the Blazing Angels games being the only exception).

In the end the Aero Dancing and Microsoft Flight Simulator serie of games currently are filling my flying needs, though its kinda sad they'll never be another Aero Dancing title given the fact that CRI/SEGA-AM2 is now CRI Middlware.

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coverton341
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 11:45:33 AM
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I've been playing this game for a bit on the 360 and I for one am a huge fan of flight games be them arcade or sim. I like the emphasis on story in this game. The only nit I have to pick about this game is the controls. Honestly I can't pin point my gripe with the controls, it's just something about the feel I don't like. Maybe it's the fact that hard banking just doesn't work.

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 12:23:40 PM

You are going to have to explain that in detail for me please..

It didn't really matter if it was a Flight Stick or Controller on the PS3 version.

Since you are playing the 360 version, were you using the stick?

Last edited by maxpontiac on 9/15/2010 12:26:08 PM

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coverton341
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 1:11:05 PM

No I was using the controller. What I mean is when you climb and bank hard left or right normally you have a feeling of navigating on both the y and z axis and you get a harder tighter bank out of it. It was like that in the ace combat series but in this game I don't get that hard tight bank feeling and it really shows through in dog fights.

If I take the game into Assist OFF or what ever it is when you are outside of the cockpit and looks like you are miles away from the plane i.e. the arcade-ish view then I can get that feel but the point, at least for me, in playing a flight game is to be in the plane and have a sense of flying. It just feels like they trimmed out some of the actuality of the cockpit Assist ON mode and it just hurts the feeling of control.

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 2:14:40 PM

I'll disagree with you in that regard.

I found that no matter what the plane I use(yes, the F-22 will turn better then nearly all of them), all of them performed quite well if the speed was correct.

In all actuality, in HAWX 2 you can get your airspeed a lot lower then in any of the Ace Combat games.

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dillonthebunny
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 12:30:33 PM
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bloody love this game...

sp is ok, you know.. its what everyone is saying... but for me the online progression is all I play. I really hope it keeps me going til MoH is out.

but you know, i hopped on to Topgun after playing HAWX2 for about 7 hours, mainly out of curiosity to see if it was really that bad and if i had just been playing it through rose tinted glasses.. and imo Topgun online is fine, really honestly fine. its a shame that people will stop playing it and will just become one of those poor forgotten games.

but for a few quid, its ok!

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CH1N00K
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 2:01:34 PM
Reply

I'm going to have to agree with you here Ben, I feel as though the first game was better, maybe because it was a fresh spin on what was essentially a AC game. I became a fan of the first hawx, but now playing the second one? It's fun, It's entertaining..but it lacks something that I can't quite put my finger on...I haven't tried the online section yet (anyone up for some Coop?) But this game just doesn't feel as good as the first. I hope the new AC at least lives up to the hype a little more.

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dillonthebunny
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 4:08:28 PM
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for me online is way WAY better than the first game. but if theres something it lacks.. its sound online, wtf is that all about?


PATCH PLEASE!

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Caanimal
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 5:06:11 PM
Reply

My only complaint about the game is that even when you max your level and gain all the points you can you still fall 20 points shy of being able to unlock everything, and especially all aircraft. I buy games like this to fly the planes and look at the amazing work put into crafting the simulated planes, I couldn't care less about special weapons packs or perks or skills that only get used in the on-line Vs. modes.

What got me about the first game was how tedious it was to up your level to unlock the "cooler" planes, in this one it's the fact that I can only unlock a small portion of those cool planes because they are burried so deep in the experience paths that you miss out on 1/4 of all aircraft.

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 5:10:12 PM

Is this confirmed? If so, that sucks big time.

My goal was to unlock all the planes and earn the Plane Mastery on each one.

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Caanimal
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 @ 6:37:25 PM

Unless something changes a little further into leveling up (finished w/ campaign and at level 29 now) I will be 20 points shy of unlocking all "rewards" (aircraft/weapons packs/perks/etc.)... I have found stuff that says starting @ level 30 (50 is max) instead of getting 1 XP token a level 2 are awarded. Even if this is true, the aircraft should be the first things unlocked IMO, I don't feel like grinding for 100+ hours in campaign mode (I rarely go on-line on my PS3) to unlock the only things I'm interested in...

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