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Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 XBox 360 Review - -

Gameplay 8.0
Graphics 8.5
Sound 8.0
Value 8.0
Distributor: UbiSoft
Review Date:
September 2010
Kyle Sudukis


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

Flight games on consoles are sometimes Air Crash Investigation worthy because trying to crack that elusive PC simulator market is easier said than done. Generally, the graphics are there but when they attempt to add realism into the mix, things become a little shaky at the best of times. Thankfully, UBISOFT has once again erred on the side of caution as H.A.W.X. 2 is more grounded in the arcade world as opposed to those complicated PC simulators. Add in 32 different and realistic planes and it's easy to get drawn into the story of H.A.W.X. 2.

Set in the not so distance future, H.A.W.X. 2 is firmly located in the Tom Clancy universe of Ghost Recon Future Soldier that sees the world on the verge of war and this is where the gamer is thrown into the shoes of three maverick pilot as they fly the skies in an attempt for ground forces to recover stolen nukes. Oozing with Tom Clancy references, it's actually quite fun to fly around in this universe as opposed to sneaking around military bases and attempting to thwart terrorists organisations and splinter cells. Another twist to the story is that you actually play three different campaigns that include the US, Russian and the British with some fun cutscenes thrown in for fun.

As you fly through the skies of many countries such as the Persian Gulf and Russia, your job is to prevent the unthinkable from happening which generally involves blowing lots of things up. However the first thing that I noticed about this new H.A.W.X. title were the controls. On the XBox 360 controller, everything feels just right and whether you're attempting to do a loop, spiralling away from missiles or targeting that elusive enemy, the developers have really fine tuned the controls and made it quite enjoyable at the same time. The only thing a little tricky is landing on a carrier and on more than one occasion, I landed in the deep end of the ocean. @!#$*!

At it's gaming nexus, H.A.W.X. 2 follows the standard air combat game formula as you follow your waypoints to victory, engage in a variety of sometimes vertigo inspired dogfights, escort other vehicles and use state of the art technology in order to find your foes who are hiding like rats. The key to the gameplay is the ERS (enhanced reality system) which makes the game more arcade than simulator and consider it like the formula one games with auto braking and handling around corners. It's something that is needed for console flight games that makes it relatively easy to pick up and start playing. I was also surprised at how interactive the environment was as you watch the ant-like people and vehicles either benefit from your interference or attempt to blow you down from the skies just like the Hollywood big budget action movies. For me, nothing is more satisfying than flying low to the ground and taking out a large number of enemy tanks.

Depending on your skill level, the AI in H.A.W.X. 2 can be quite frustrating at times, especially when you're trying to zone your target onto them to launch your missiles and just like human pilots, they can do all those crazy Top Gun manoeuvres just like you and shoot those flares to get out of tight squeezes.  Your wingmen are a bit of a hit and miss affair and at the end of the day, it's generally up to the player to dispatch all the enemies as they usually just fly around and look busy. Hmm... I should try that technique at work next time! If you do get blown out of the sky, the game uses a checkpoint system to assist you through the missions that works on most occasions.

For those that want eye candy, you've come to the right place with H.A.W.X. 2 that boasts exceptionally well designed jets to some highly detailed environments from realistic clouds, weather, lighting and some good looking terrains. In terms of terrains and like most flight simulators, it looks spectacular from the sky but when you get a little too close, it goes a little too flat for more liking but one day, we'll see a real forest populated by individual trees. Thankfully most of the action takes place up in the skies. Add in realistic sound effects, chatter, explosions plus the awesome soundtrack and H.A.W.X. 2 is a very good looking and sounding game on the XBox 360.

However, if you need a break or have finished the single-player game, H.A.W.X. 2 boasts a fun 4 player campaign co-op or 8-player slugfest. Finding other players was quite easy and we only suffered slowdown on a few occasions but I'm guessing this was part of my internet connection as opposed to the game itself. Now that Labour has won victory in the Australian parliament, bring on the National Broadband Network for superior online gaming.

Final Thoughts? If you're a fan of the original, you'll be over the moon with the sequel which contains a sturdy gaming engine, albeit easy at times but overall, the story, action and sheer speed of you flying through the air will keep most gamers entertained. Consider it the Top Gun "arcade" flight game for the console world and also has the eye candy to match as you engage in dogfight after dogfight.

Fun times to be had by all.


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