HAWX 2 Review: The Similiar Soar

Ubisoft’s HAWX 2 premieres as the sequel to its predecessor HAWX and flies into action with immense combat battles, and tense interactions that provides a rewarding lively experience that is believable. Unfortunately, poor-quality textures in aerial shots combined with a poorly paced mission structure places HAWX 2 just short of soaring to the sky. As it soars at close-range, very few new elements are actually plausible enough to consider this a true and just sequel to the first title. While it has problems with the core gameplay and the lack of any real new additions, HAWX 2 still follows up to be a slightly improved title to the previous iteration.

The narrative of HAWX 2 is well written and serves to give combat drama some justice. Most of the narrative revolves around the air and the fights in the skies, and seems more than developed to be exciting. Colonel David Crenshaw of the first title becomes an advice expert for the three new pilots from the US, UK, and Russia. HAWX 2 carries on to detail missions augmenting Russian nationalist forces, Middle Eastern insurgents, and nuclear threats while still pulling it off with a flying glow. HAWX 2 ties into the Tom Clancy universe in an antiquated setting homage by allowing air support to back up Ghost Recon squads and focusing on cutscenes in meeting rooms or through radio chatter during an intense combat scene.  While the cutscenes are not up to par in terms of the narrative explication, the dialogue is engaging and the narration allows players to get invested in the plot before the ultimate ending.

Tom Clancy’s HAWX 2 pulls an aerial spin on the mission structure through the basics of the arcade combat. Essentially, controls are simple and introduced. Moves end up getting more complex while the ordering scheme of wingmen seems convincing. The core experience revolves around the nicely detailed models of the planes, which for a title of an aerial magnitude makes all the difference. 32 planes from the US, British, and Russian intelligence are part of the game and are extremely detailed. Wing emblems and even the subtle differences in speed and maneuverability seem poignant while every plane feels more or less responsive in accord to reality. As the planes are commissioned for the airway, flying and fighting become the essential premise like HAWX. The gameplay remains simple enough in terms of combat maneuvers and hitting a target with the on-board weapons. HAWX 2 comes with the ERS Enhanced Reality System  that served as a visual guide to evade hectic situations in the first title, but the use of this has been far more limited and reduced due to overcomplicating things.  Missions that are done while taking off seem genuine and exciting, but something like this seems hardly noticeable when trying to find anything new with HAWX 2 that makes it define itself as a sequel. Visually, HAWX 2 is spectacular in terms of graphical assets when high in the sky. It is when you move your plane dead close that you notice pixellated textures and trees towards the ground. The details with each plane are stunning and well done, while the sky is a nice blue color and makes for a perfect backdrop.

Multiplayer within HAWX 2 is more full-bodied than the campaign. HAWX 2 features a dynamic drop-in system for up to four players that can fight through individual missions or play the entire story campaign with a friend in addition to the extended Arcade mode option. While playing with friends is exciting, the UAV and AC-130 missions are lackluster in terms of grouping and can serve to be too simplistic at best.  Competitively, HAWX 2 brings the offering of team battles, a mode where opposing aerial combatants face off against each other. In addition to a chaotic mix of combatants, there are various targets that are static along with the already motion-enthused ones. Up to eight players participate in dog-fights and the game has a perks system that while seems complicated, can be extremely simple to cover in any real depth. As players earn experience points through defeating multiple planes in multiplayer, enough experience points unlock new planes and abilities, either passive or activated, which can be used in competitive matches.

HAWX 2 characterizes a title that tries to do something, but only slightly improves its previous installment to little effect. HAWX provided realistic airfare combat that was exciting and adventurous, and HAWX 2 uses that same formula without changing much to be the same decent title. Unfortunately, it does not change enough to be considered a hefty sequel, but it still adds something new to the gameplay to be considered just as relevant. Anyone looking for that specific aerial spin from HAWX minus the ERS system that became a bit complicated in the last title should look to HAWX 2 to take them to the skies

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