Published on August 31st, 2010 | by prime0
H.A.W.X. 2 – Preview
Colonel David Crenshaw is about to have a very bad day. It starts as any other would in the life of a US Air Force pilot assigned to the Middle East with a relaxed sweep of Prince Faisal Air Base, scouting the surrounding area for suspicious activity while keeping a watchful eye on friendly outposts and convoys. It doesn’t take too long to find trouble though, as one convoy of insurgents putting an RPG into the side of a friendly helicopter, sending it crashing down in an inferno of smoke and flames. We’re scrambled into action, switching to a camera nestled on the base of our jet to guide precision missiles down to our target. The unprovoked attack spirals into all-out war, as Prince Faisal comes under fire from cruise missiles, the ballistics causing havoc on the ground below. One of them locks onto our jet, smashing into the back of us, sending the multi-million dollar fighter spiralling out of control. We witness Crenshaw’s final moments from the cockpit as he drifts in and out of consciousness trying to keep the plane from nosediving into the ground below. It’s all in vain.
H.A.W.X. 2’s opening is as confident a start as any of the big-budget blockbusters we can rattle off the top of our head, and by wiping out the original game’s player character in the opening act, an inspiring sign that Ubisoft Bucharest wants to start afresh for the sequel to last year’s misfiring flight game. The story has been given a much stronger emphasis this time around, with the campaign strapping players into the cockpit of the US, Russian and British Air Forces as they battle above international skies. It’s every bit the Tom Clancy game that the original game wasn’t.
But perhaps more importantly, the team in Bucharest has recognized the biggest problem we had with the original game, the almost unavoidable – and unfortunately very boring – nature of modern day ‘fire and forget’ aerial warfare. You’ll still be able to lock on to your targets from miles away, but a large part of the action is being brought closer to you, with Ubisoft focusing on tighter close-quarters dogfights and introducing a variety of weapons to encourage different play styles and brand-new gameplay mechanics to break up the pace.
Bucharest wants you to feel like a pilot in a similar way to how Slightly Mad wanted you to feel like the driver in Need for Speed: Shift. Take-offs and landings are in, with the player taking charge of every action from the moment you step into the cockpit. Mid-air refuelings have also been implemented, though the execution seems as fiddly and ill-advised as any other flight game we’ve seen them in before. More exciting is the idea of AC-130 gunship support missions, which we presume will let us rain hellfire down on any hostiles causing problems on the ground below. A nice little shake-up from the usual – even if it may have been ripped straight out of Call of Duty. The varied mission types, too, including recon missions, night-time raids (complete with an infra-red night-vision option) and espionage missions that have you listening in on bugged telephone conversations each do well to distance H.A.W.X. 2 from the sterility associated with the genre.
So, H.A.W.X. 2 looks to be one of those rarities that we can’t help but feel excited for, admirably seeking to fix the shortcomings of the first to deliver an exhilarating dogfighter. The supersonic action, ever-twisting story arc and improved multiplayer could provide the game flight-fans have been waiting for. Buckle up for lift off: H.A.W.X. 2 may well be the Modern Warfare of the skies.