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The HAWX franchise is the only true contender for the Ace Combat crown, but on reflection it still stops well short. I played HAWX 1 and although the storyline was quite engaging I found the controls , the assistance off/ on and the guided bombing runs were alittle too technical and sometimes too difficult to get used to. Over-all it was a good game and that is the reason I bought the sequel.
The set up is slightly different in this game, rather then play one character Colonel Crenshaw as you do in the first game, this time you play several characters, pilots from the US airforce, acting under the command of Crenshaw (you actually play Crenshaw in the first mission), a Russian Pilot and a Royal Navy pilot. The gameplay is that you skip around the world and rotate these pilots in 20 different missions, and this variation makes for interesting playing. There are also a few missions where you pilot an unmanned 'drone', all of these missions involve surveillance patrols, and two of them involve active engagement missions where you fire at targets on the ground. It makes these missions a little too easy that you are not being fired back at.
The other probem with this game is that unlike Ace Combat, you do not earn more aircraft as you complete missions. In this game you get given an aircraft to use and you have no choice over the aircraft or the weapons package that you use. Now this really is not a good move. Most if not alL flight sims has the option of different aircraft and weapons packages for each mission as standard. You only get to control around 8 aircraft. I suspect this was to keep the licensing costs down, a bit of a cheap move there. You also only ever shoot down about 5 differen enemy aircraft, again pretty lame.
The Graphics whilst in the air are pretty good, land vehicles look a bit too blocky, its obvious all the time was spent modelling the aircraft, and fair enough I think. The cut too scenes are also a bit crappy, often they last too long, they contain idle chit-chat, needless storyline and the graphics of ground personel and ground vehicles again looks sub-standard.
The soundtrack is unremarkable, in fatc most of the time I didnt even know that there was any music in the game.
The storyline is OK, not a bad, idea, some ideas nicked from ace combat, epsecially the last mission which involves missiles, space lasers and the now obligatory tunnel fly through to the last objective.
The good things about this game is that gameplay is simpler, it takes a while to get used to all the buttons,but the bombing runs, the assistance on/ off are allot easier to use then the original game , and they have also gotten rid of the infuriating VFS bombing run missions which used to take far too long.
I played this game at an Nvidia convention in 3D, on three 22 inch full HD monitors... this game looks stunning.
On what controller you use, keyboard and mouse or stick, you will find this game amazing, although you may pick it up quicker using the mouse. Shooting down bad guys is only half the fun, simply flying and exploring is a thrill in itself.
The range of weaponry is vast enough to provide variety, and will keep you entertained for hours as you prune your skills in your new favourite to the point where you can blast a harrier from the sky. But you should not be shooting harriers, they are lovely.
The landscapes are beautiful, I was truly blown away when I saw them, you may notice however that the plane itself is not so stunning; as I was told by one of the experts, the programmers gave all the tessellation (a process where a base model is created, and depending on your distance, more or less polygons are filled in on that object to add greater depth, hence the scenery looks better the closer you get, rather than vice versa like in some older games) from your graphics card goes on the scenery, so the plane feels a bit left out and jaggedy, not that that will dampen your experience in the slightest.
Flight veterans will undoubtedly make shorter work of the missions than novices, however it will take both quite a time to finish the game in its entirety. I never like to speculate game length, as it can vary so much from gamer to gamer, and with a game like this, where free roaming is fun, it is impossible to judge.
Hawx 2 is one of those games you can just pick up and play, it is like Burnout Paradise, sticking it on and cruising around can be entertaining and relaxing, perfect for a lazy sunday. This game will always be useful and in easy reach on your gaming shelf.
Anything to be aware of?
That fighter jet on your six