Wii

North America

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

by James Jones - April 5, 2011, 9:48 am PDT
Total comments: 3

3

Just shut up, and let me fly the damn plane!

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is incompetent, both as a flight simulation and as a storytelling medium. The Wii version of H.A.W.X. 2 has a different setting to the other console versions, and was designed to create a more approachable version of flight combat, heavily leveraged on the Wii's pointer controls.

In H.A.W.X. 2 you play as Arrow, an up and coming fighter pilot. After his brother died in a piloting accident, his father (also a pilot) grounded him. Arrow took his talents to a private military contractor. Shockingly, it turns out to be run by an evil genius who aspires to hold the world hostage with his military muscle. Arrow leaves the company and rejoins his father at the elite covert air wing H.A.W.X. to stop his former boss.

Despite any compelling appearances, the story is disappointing and poorly written, often omitting the connective tissue between missions. Objectives are not specified, nor are reasons for missions, until they're well underway. What little storytelling that exists is done through stilted, poorly written dialog more akin to an episode of G.I. Joe than something with the Tom Clancy moniker. It is of such poor quality that the story sequences are an embarrassment.

94% less exciting then it looks

In a questionable effort to make the genre more approachable, H.A.W.X. 2 on Wii makes heavy use of the pointer controls. Players aim using an on-screen reticule, meaning that targets can be hit even when you're not "nose-on", facing them in your aircraft. Even enemies behind you can be shot at directly. During dogfights this removes almost all the drama, because you're able to hit targets without having to jockey for position. As long as you can see them you can kill them. Similarly, you can effectively neutralize enemy missiles with your physics-defying gun. With unlimited ammo, it removes much of the game's challenge; you are nearly invincible if you never release the fire button.

The fights are also almost always easy, and the enemies are sparse. Only in the last few missions is there any feeling of dramatic intensity. Pacing is ruined by too many escort missions and jets that move as slowly as transport helicopters. There is no first-person mode, meaning you're always stuck looking at the tail of your aircraft, and not where you're going. The game's collision detection is broken, triggering crashes into the side of mountains despite there being no visual evidence of a collision.

The controls work acceptably well in dogfights. Maneuvering can feel sluggish but that is more a product of the physics than the controls. Establishing missile lock requires use of the pointer, where a single button press would have been a better solution. Outside of dogfights, the controls are difficult to judge due to the disorienting camera.

He needs to fall

One mode has you still in limited control of the aircraft, but the camera is lodged just behind and beneath your tail. In this mode you share flight control with the AI, and the result is many unavoidable crashes. Another mode places the camera high overhead as if it were a vertical shooter, yet the screen does not vertically scroll. It expects you to execute some level of acrobatic flight, without perspective. There's also a ponderous helicopter mode where, strangely, it is difficult to hover without crashing.

None of the above modes are much fun, but they aren't the worst. One mission has you controlling a hawk (the bird, not a member of the flight wing) as it flies through rings. Another has you free-falling from space, with your only goal being to avoid the randomly generating debris, a task based more on luck than skill. A third has you in control of a space shuttle, without the benefits of air and atmospheric maneuvering. These three levels are totally out of place and are completely devoid of redeeming qualities.

If space travel is like this, I don't want to be an astronaut

The game has about thirty missions, but on average they take less than ten minutes each. At less than five hours, diversity isn't a huge concern. The attempt to create unique missions means that over half the game is spent in one of these poorly-executed alternate modes. I sustained almost every death of my playthrough in these modes, and about half were due to the confounding camera placements.

Visually, the game is very attractive. The terrain beneath was created using the GeoEye technology. The plane models look sharp and accurate. The sketches used to tell the story provide an effective replacement for video sequences, but they're still replacements.

The sound, however, is not attractive. The sound effects are limited, but acceptable. The music is constrained to just a few songs. Only one is even slightly catchy. However, it is the voice acting where the game falls flat. As mentioned before, the dialog is terrible. Fittingly, Arrow delivers his terrible "arrow" puns terribly. It would be less painful to read text, but instead Arrow constantly repeats lines like "Guns! Guns! Guns!" until such a point that I couldn't stand to listen anymore.

Guns! Guns! Guns! Wait...

The game also features a few unlockable modes: a reasonably enjoyable survival dogfight mode, a challenge mode where you dogfight another pilot from the story, the world's slowest vertical scrolling shooter, and more hawk flying. Even with these extras, there's little motivation to explore the game's offerings. The gameplay grows tiresome long before the main campaign is completed.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is hobbled by poor design and beset with technical issues. The game's selling point is the chance to fly planes, and far too often you don't. Is it so much to ask that a flight game focus on giving you full control of an aircraft? Anyone looking for the excitement of flight combat would be better off playing an Ace Combat title on one of the other systems, or tracking down Sky Crawlers for Wii. At least in those games you get to fly the plane.

Summary

Pros
  • Attractive Visuals
Cons
  • Horrible story and dialog
  • Overuse of different modes
  • Why am I flying a hawk?

Images

Talkback

FZeroBoyoApril 05, 2011

Perhaps the best thing to come out of this game was the tirade you went on about it in RFN a few weeks back.  :P:  Shame you had to play such an incompetent title though.

Quote:

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is incompetent, both as a flight simulation and as a storytelling medium.

That's a back of the box quote if I've ever heard one.

Quote from: insanolord

Quote:

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is incompetent, both as a flight simulation and as a storytelling medium.

That's a back of the box quote if I've ever heard one.

The front of the box is full of lies, the back is littered with multi-lingual self-praise that does not apply to anything.

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

Genre Action
Developer Ubisoft Romania
Players1 - 8
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2
Release Nov 09, 2010
PublisherUbisoft
RatingTeen
eu: Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2
Release Nov 12, 2010
PublisherUbisoft
Rating7+
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