HAWX 2 User Review
One step forward, one step back when comparing to the original's visuals. When it comes to the aircraft featured in game, the plane models are far more accurate to their real world counterparts. You can even see the weapon bay doors opening and closing on the F-22 for example. Nothing seems to out of place either. Another example is the MiG-25 and MiG-31 do not share the same in game model. I can appreciate that, alot. If you are an Ace Combat fan, you will be pleased to see the HUD's green color scheme. The GEOEYE sattelite terrain returns for authenticity as well. Some of the levels with snow were amazing to look at and very photo-realistic. The hangar allows you to view your unlocked aircraft, but you can't zoom in enough. I have to question that decision. I should be allowed to look at my aircraft as close as I want to. Overall, I was disappointed in the muddy look of the visuals. Most of the terrain and surroundings was blurred and seemed to have low textures and an even lower resolution. Another major downer for me was the frame rate issues during the cut scenes. Sadly, you can truely tell this game is a port. Being a PS3 fan has spoiled me thanks to KZ2, UC2, and GOW3.
HAWX 2 follows the trail blazed by the orginal game (and of course Ace Combat) and is a strict arcade flier. Unfortunately, HAWX 2 still feels slow. The airplanes do not match the airspeed shown. It feels better then the first one, but still lacks that overall "man I moving fast" feeling no one can seem to get right. Flight shooter devs need to get that "need for speed". The physics of the aircraft is much more realistic, but not to the point of being a simulator. You can feel the airplane sink when at slow speeds in a much more realistic fashion. I was also very happy to see the devs allow the user to stall while in cockpit. Essentially what that means is that you are allowed to control the airspeed of the vehicle down to a near stop. This allows you to perform some combat maneuvers without going into the Assistance Off feature that I can't stand. One thing I absolutely was thrilled with was the AC-130 Spectre gunship and UCAV missions. Both types were done well and were in COD MW2 fashion. It's really exhilarating to fire 105MM shells down on insurgents and see them burn all the while looking through thermal vision. HAWX 2 also introduces the precision munitions that were made famous on YouTube.
A near 100% improvement over the orginal game. The voice acting is much more serious, and radio chatter sounds very realistic. You will here phrases such as "one-eight-zero relative" and "copperhead one-one" while in mission. It adds a sense of realism that the first game failed to deliver. I was also impressed with the voice acting, and while not at the Uncharted 2 level, it was still very good. I actually found myself listening to what the commanding officer had to say. The typical Tom Clancy music returns as well as the theme song from the first. The in game sound effects are well done and comparable to the first one.
I have to tip my hat to the devs on this. I was able to plug two my PC flight sticks into the game without a problem. Things like this mean alot to someone like me, and I am glad they took the time include this PS3 feature. However, in a move I don't understand, you have to actually pause the game to change camera modes. It's not an issue to me since I fly exclusively from the cockpit, but there was some instances in which I would have liked a quick look around my aircraft. This could be a big deal to certain players. As I mentioned before, Assistance Off returns and I am proud to say that I did not use it once. It's a horrible feature in my book, and the blimp camera is something that takes you out of the immersion. The game also introduces mid-air refueling and take off and landings while in mission. I believe the mid-air refueling could be frustrating for those who have little experience doing so. It doesn't seem to be very forgiving, and may require some practice for some.
HAWX 2 features 20 singleplayer missions that all have great variety. Yes, it's air combat, but I never felt bored in any of the missions. You can replay the majority of the missions in a custom setting with the plane of your choice. You will also find Survival and Arcade modes for you to experience as well. I really enjoy the Survival missions as it's you against an invading army. It's a perfect place to test out any aircraft. Pretty much every singleplayer experience can be done in Co-op. If you have a buddy (or three amigos) who enjoys aircraft games, you will find yourselves with plenty to do. Online multiplayer returns with Team Battle. It has several customizable settings so you can always create a game to your liking should you not find one to your liking. Shockingly, the online community seems very low right now, but I have a feeling it's due to a reason I will speak about in the next section, which is my favorite aspect of HAWX 2. The record video feature returns as well.
If you have played Rainbow Six Vegas, the Persistent Elite Creation (PEC) feature will be recognizable to you. You essentially begin HAWX 2 by coming up with a callsign. As you play the game, you earn XP for everything you do, all the while earning tokens to spend on new planes, passive abilities, and support options. Just for reference, tjere are 70 unlocks in the game. My favorite addition to the HAWX franchise is the Plane Mastery system. The game tracks your XP earned with the specific aircraft and you can "level up" the plane which unlocks skins and custom weapon pack option. The custom pack allows you to pick and choose the weapons and ammo counts for each. It feels sim in nature, and it allows you to take each mission or scenario on in a tactical standpoint. I will admit that I did not venture online until I had my aircraft of choice mastered. I have a suspicion that this could be the reason in why the online numbers are so low.
I can't help but feel that the budget was stopped or limited during production for this game. This is made obivous by it's $50.00 price tag that I was pleasantly suprised to see. So many things were done right, and it was obvious that the developers made an effort to correct it. However, the graphical performance of this title is lacking polish and clarity, and it could be considering down right disappointing. Even though the visuals are a side effect of another port (really Ubi?), HAWX 2 is THE game I have been waiting for, and it now shares the elite space next to Ace Combat 04 as my personal favorites in the genre due to the feature set that is put in place. The first HAWX was all about the Multiplayer experience to me, and now with HAWX 2, there is a game out there with plenty of singleplayer content to keep me busy. Namco, it's time to raise the bar with the next Ace Combat.
As always, thanks for reading!
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.