Forum Overview :: Reviews
H.A.W.X. The short(ish) review: Positive! by Fortinbras 05/28/2009, 1:26am PDT
- OFF mode is awesome for dogfighting, allowing you to do things Ace Combat just never was willing to implement, like doing the Batman stall 5km over a ground target, or Pugachev's Cobra. However when you enter OFF mode you lose pretty much all strategic awareness of the battlefield, because of the bizarre camera angle and lack of instrument panels. Your HUD map is still in the bottom-left corner but you'll be too busy trying to keep your aircraft from plowing into a hillside to reference it. This really shouldn't be a problem, but most of the missions in the game are pretty much all fire support/escort/guard sorties. If you step into OFF mode to take down several highly maneuverable fighters who are buzzing around your charge, by the time you get done with them your escort objective will be 20km away, and taking fire from the next group of aircraft. At any given time, your escort/protection objective will have 3-4 groups of hostile aircraft on course to intercept it, so if you don't dispatch them quickly you'll be up to your ass in fighters soon. In practice, it's much easier and efficient to just equip an aircraft with a sizeable amount of quadruple-fire AA missiles and hit them while they're packed in a formation on intercept course than to dogfight. And your alternative blows even more...

- Normal flight mode is terrible for manuevering. Up until you get a YF-12 or F-22 your handling on normal flight mode is like a Buick with no power-steering, terribly sluggish. You can't bank to dodge missiles with any real effectiveness, nor engage aircraft with any real guarantee of a hit. Again, this wouldn't be a problem except that you really have to fly in normal mode to keep a sense of perspective and keep an eye on your objectives while you're maneuvering. It is absolutely impossible to keep on any sort of steady course in OFF mode while trying to fire on other aircraft. As if compensating you for the fact you're piloting a blimp in this mode there's an "Enhanced Reality System" button you can punch which will plot a course of virtual triangular gates for you to fly through either as a firing solution to a target obstructed by skyscrapers, bunker walls, etc.; to dodge a missile; or intercept an enemy aircraft. Truthfully I thought all three of these were a fucking waste in most non-gimmicky circumstances. OFF mode is superior for dodging a missile (a single inside loop will shake an incoming missile in 3-4 seconds, the EMS system plots strange arcs that take 10-20 seconds to complete), finding a firing solution to an obstructed target is as simple as flying straight up a few kilometers, and oftentimes the ERS system plotted a bizarre intercept course that took 40 seconds for me to complete when I could have pulled a tighter turn and achieved best firing arc in 15.

- Your wingmen are morons. Fucking terrible. They don't do a goddamn thing. There is however an up to 4 player co-op mode and people can join while you're in play, and one semi-competent human player is enough to make up for your shitty wingmen. And you might need this co-op, as the method by which the game increases the difficulty is to bury you under a shit-ton of enemy fighters, way more than you can handle without going into OFF mode and putting your objective at risk.

- The voice audio is poorly scripted, with script-triggered voice clips being overridden just as they've started and interrupted by another character with something important to say. Audio is re-used at several points making it fairly fucking annoying. My wingman exclaimed that "they must have half their air force up here!" like three fucking times in the fourth mission.

- The plot is the same as Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 1 & 2. Stolen nukes. Mayhem. GHOST teams aplenty being sent in to do a bunch of cool shit. Maybe they should have called this Ghost Recon Advanced Fighter Pilot. If you've never played Advanced Warfighter 1 & 2 it's as decent as any of Tom Clancy's other shit, and I wasn't expecting anything epic. But why do my choices have to be between playing a Tom Clancy novel and playing yet another fucking Ace Combat Weeaboo game whose cutscenes navel-gaze endlessly about war?

- The game is a goddamn liar. It will recommend you an aircraft to fly for the next sortie. Usually this is the one it has just unlocked through mission progression. DO NOT TRUST IT. I was recommended a fighter-bomber for a mission where I was flying fucking intercept on dive-bombers for 80% of the time. I repeated that mission ten fucking times until I finally found the appropriate weapons package on an aircraft with suitably high speed. In fact, lets talk about the whole aircraft/weapons package procurement method next.

- Much like The Force Unleashed, to compensate for the fact that it's only 16 missions and can be completed in about 6-7 hours, HAWX encourages you to replay old missions in order to gain "XP" to level up and gain new weapons packages and aircraft. The aircraft it gives you by default as a reward for completing each mission without XP gain are fairly decent, but they're lacking suitable weapons packages for the following missions oftentimes, I.E. giving me an F-18 Superhornet with no air-to-ground missiles or bombs for a CAS mission featuring brutal block-by-block fighting in downtown Chicago, or handing me an F-14B equipped with free-falling bombs for a fucking aircraft intercept mission over the Sea of Japan. So you're faced with a loss of maneuverability (the aircraft get progressively better in both speed and handling as the game goes on save for an F117-A reward towards the end) or a loss of effectiveness. There's a default fire and forget missile you're always equipped with, the Joint Strike Missile, which is Tom Clancy-ese for "We knew giving you only 4 missiles would make for a shitty game". However it's terrible for anything requiring quick action in air intercept or bombing runs, where you need to take out as many hostile craft/targets as possible in the least amount of time before the redshirts you're supporting run like Lemmings straight into the meat grinder of guns and rockets. It's less forgiving of a grind than Force Unleashed, giving you massive XP rewards for dodging X number of missiles, firing off Y number of joint strike missiles, bombs, etc at staggered tiers. I got to about level 18-19 in about six hours of continuous play, and I got a YF-17! Yes, you can fucking fly the prototype combat version of an SR-71 Blackbird if you want!

- The UI and graphics are a lot better than in Ace Combat 6. AC6 hurt my fucking eyes cycling through shit-tons of targets and trying to find the ones I needed to hit rather than the ones that I could hit but should ignore if I didn't want to get a MISSION FAILED screen. The game only cycles through targets you're pointed towards in HAWX. The landscapes look much better, as do the aircraft.

- Maybe 2/3rds of the mission designs are fairly bland, things I've seen done before in the Ace Combat series. The ending is slightly anti-climactic, the airstrike scene in The Rock coupled with the Death Star trench run, but I think that given the alternative was yet another fucking ridiculously huge facility in an Ace Combat game, it was a welcome change. My favorite mission, Operation Backhand featured your craft flying through expertly plotted blind spots in a massive anti-air network to hit C&C sites at the occupied Norfolk Naval Yard. Flying through all that flak at night with the computer constantly screaming "MISSILE EVADED" every second was amazing.

- All in all, I think HAWX is a good start to a franchise. It's very rough around the edges but it's a good play, and if you want multiplayer air-to-air combat, this is much better than Ace Combat 6 thanks to the OFF mode maneuvering. If you want a good single-player campaign, this is much better than Ace Combat 6 (but not as good as Ace Combat 5 or Zero). However I'll expect them to have all these good concepts sorted out before they release HAWX 2, and hire a better writer to handle the plot and dialogue.

H.A.W.X. by Fortinbras 05/27/2009, 2:49pm PDT NEW
    H.A.W.X. The short(ish) review: Positive! by Fortinbras 05/28/2009, 1:26am PDT NEW
        Flight of the Intruder 2: Don't Intrude the 'tude by FABIO 05/28/2009, 2:06am PDT NEW
            missile evaded, the video game NT by Weyoun Voidbringer 05/28/2009, 3:40am PDT NEW
        H.A.W.X. 2 blows by WITTGENSTEIN 03/25/2011, 7:08pm PDT NEW
    psh moar like CAWX by Weyoun Voidbringer 05/30/2009, 4:38am PDT NEW
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