HAWX 2 Review
The appeal of HAWX, to me, was its tone. The whole point of the game was to show off these crazy future planes in a wild, Metal Gear Solid-type story about a villainous PMC invading the United States. In that game, the HAWX name meant something (HAWX stands for “High Altitude Warfare eXperimental.”).
After playing HAWX 2, then, I am sad to report that while I was not exactly bored while playing the campaign, I was never engaged by it. With this title, Ubisoft Romania abandoned the cool and exciting, balls-to-the-wall future storyline for what is basically the plot of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. I mean, it’s HAWX: Russian Ultranationalists With Nukes.
HAWX 2 (PS3 [Reviewed], PC, XBox360, Wii)
Developer: Ubisoft Romania
Release Date: September 7, 2010
OK, OK, but how does it play? It plays like the first game did, basically; it’s still very much an arcade flight sim built to be accessible, except this time around they’ve added a few things that seem intended to make the game be much more boring than it would be otherwise. Let’s go down the list.
-Takeoffs and landings. The first game would just put you in the air near where the mission began, and after it was over, it would just be over. In this one, you have to take off from an airstrip or carrier for most of the missions, and at the end you’ll have to land back at the place you came from. I don’t really understand what this adds to the game. The game forcing you to fly a long way to a landing strip and land your plane after a mission could make sense as a way for the player to decompress after a particularly harrowing mission. Unfortunately, the landing strip or carrier it makes you land on are always immediately below where your mission took place, and so landing becomes this annoying thing you have to do to finish a mission.
-Refueling your plane in the air. OK, so you don’t have to do this much, but it’s always annoying when you do, because it takes several minutes, and you have to approach the refueling plane very precisely. On top of that, there’s no real reason for the game to make you do this. There’s one mission, for example, in which you’ll fly through a canyon for ten minutes (boring), and then when you get through the canyon, your allies show up, and they’ll direct you to refuel. And then, as soon as you do, the mission is over. WHY THE F**K DID YOU MAKE ME REFUEL?
-Flying UAVs and AC-130s. There re a lot of missions that will have you hover above the battlefield and pretend you aren’t playing a flight simulator game. These missions are boring.
-Land your plane to rearm. Why should I go through the hassle of doing this when I can just fly my plane into the ground and reload at the last checkpoint with full health and a full armament?
I could kinda sorta forgive these annoyances if the actual legit flying missions were fun or exciting or challenging, but they’re none of those things, and the story is so convoluted and dull on top of that. The planes still handle well, and the basic actions that make up a dogfight are still fun, but it feels like the game’s heart is missing. Where is the sense of wonder over all the amazing things these planes can do? Ubisoft Romania makes these planes feel normal this time around, and that’s antithetical to the HAWX name.
Oh, and there’s co-op and competitive multiplayer. The co-op doesn’t add much to the campaign, although it is generally made more enjoyably if you’re playing with a friend. That’s not to give credit to the game as much as it is to give credit to your friend. And the competitive multiplayer is exactly the same as it was the first time around, though in this case I like it more because it provides a challenge that the campaign does not.
HAWX 2 came out a mere 18 months after HAWX. That, combined with my boredom with the game, makes me consider this a cash-in sequel that does not deserve your patronage. Sure, they’ve added a few small features, but these don’t make the game better.
Look, I loved the hell out of HAWX. I really wanted this game to be great, but it isn’t. Perhaps I’m being more harsh than I should be because my expectations were high, but if a developer can’t please its target audience, who is it going to please?
-It’s still pretty.
-Replaced exciting future tech with mundane normal tech
-Pointless takeoffs and landings
-Pointless refueling planes
-Flying drones and AC-130s is not exciting