Full disclosure: Tom Clancy%26rsquo;s HAWX 2 for the Wii was not written by Tom Clancy himself. This should not be a surprise to you. It is fairly common knowledge by now that the name %26ldquo;Tom Clancy%26rdquo; is more of a brand for games of a certain type than an actual indicator of the author%26rsquo;s involvement in the game%26rsquo;s story. If that fact wasn%26rsquo;t obvious to you before you started reading this article, it will certainly be obvious to you once you%26rsquo;ve played the Wii version of HAWX 2. If Tom Clancy knew his name was attached to a game with a story this embarrassing, he might throw himself into a jet engine.
The Wii version of HAWX 2 is a completely different game than HAWX 2 on the 360 and PS3. You play as Arrow, an ace mercenary pilot working for a private military contractor. After a few training missions involving rampant slaughter and destruction of unarmed targets, it becomes apparent to Arrow that the civilian-murdering, city-leveling orders given to him by his commanding officer (named %26ldquo;Rainmaker%26rdquo; - because he makes it rain, you see) might be less than morally acceptable. So our hero defects to the HAWX team, which consists of Arrow%26rsquo;s dad, his best friend/biggest rival %26ldquo;Ringo,%26rdquo; a hot girl named %26ldquo;Sonnet%26rdquo; who specializes in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and a token non-white mechanic named %26ldquo;Manny.%26rdquo;
Together HAWX tackles the forces of the inexplicably wealthy and impossibly well-connected Rainmaker, who has sworn revenge against Arrow for leaving his mercenary group. Arrow%26rsquo;s adventures take him through the gauntlet of daddy issues, betrayal, hackneyed love plots, a weapon of mass destruction or two, and encounters with a mysterious pilot named %26ldquo;Zeal%26rdquo; who is for all intents and purposesRacer X from Speed Racer (opens in new tab). The voice acting fails to liven up the gut-wrenchingly bad script, and the game%26rsquo;s few plot twists that avoid being predicted within the first of the game%26rsquo;s 6-7 hours are only surprises because they are just so mind-bendingly stupid (of course there would be a random space shuttle you could hijack in the middle of the frozen tundra!). In between missions, the story is told through crudely animated %26ldquo;painted%26rdquo; stills. Honestly, these stills look like the artist%26rsquo;s placeholder storyboards. They%26rsquo;re completely unacceptable; mercifully though, they%26rsquo;re also skippable.
So, granted that a Tom Clancy game has a laughable story - what about the actual gameplay? Well, don%26rsquo;t expect visuals on par with the 360/PS3 version of HAWX 2. Don%26rsquo;t even expect visuals on par with what the PS2 could do. The ground and sky look awful, all the tanks you shoot at look like little toys, and in some levels objects don%26rsquo;t pop into view until seconds before you crash into them. And you will crash into them, considering the often sluggish controls and awkward camera angles in some sections. Crashing is pretty much your biggest concern, considering that even a glancing nudge against the scenery will total your vehicle, whereas being shot with rocket after rocket will leave your ship with barely a scratch.
Being a game about fighter jets, the dogfights are supposed to be the real draw of the game, and while they are extremely easy, they can at times be fun. You use the Nunchuk to steer and the remote to aim both your guns and your missiles. You%26rsquo;ve got unlimited ammo, so you can pretty much blow up everything you see, and within a few minutes you%26rsquo;ll be blasting planes out of the skies with ease. The only downside to this ease is that fights get boring and repetitive, especially if you have to restart a lengthy section after a cheap crash.
HAWX 2 does mix up the action for each mission, sometimes letting you fire missiles from the cockpit of a helicopter, pilot a UAV through a narrow flight path, or hack certain machines through twisting of the Wii remote. A few missions stand out as being a good change of pace, such as the one where you must deal with various unexpected malfunctions in your ship while destroying a base, or one where you get to fly a pet falcon through a series of hoops. You can even have a friend drop in and be a secondary gunman. Still, the overwhelming majority of the time, Arrow is simply tasked with slowly moving from waypoint to waypoint in whatever vehicle he%26rsquo;s in and shooting down any structure or plane that has the audacity to be marked with a red circle on his ship%26rsquo;s targeting computer.
There%26rsquo;s simply too much repetition of the same mission types over and over, and there%26rsquo;s just not enough challenge or emotional investment in the game%26rsquo;s story to keep you playing. We can imagine that Ubisoft developed the Wii version of the game with a younger audience in mind (it would certainly explain the moronic plot and easy difficulty), but that doesn%26rsquo;t excuse the game from being painfully boring. Kids deserve better than this.
Nov 17, 2010