Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Ensemble Studios
Release Date: March 3, 2009
Could Halo Wars finally be the game to bring great RTS gaming to the consoles? Hopes have been pinned on the world Bungie built, and with revered RTS developer Ensemble at the helm there has been a quiet longing that this would be the one. The answer, it turns out, is a qualified yes.
Set twenty years before Combat Evolved the player joins the battle between Covenant and UNSC when it was at its bloodiest and most intense. By the time we all took control of Master Chief things were looking bleak for the human race, which is probably why we needed an improbable main character to lead mankind to safety.
Unlike most RTS games on PC where you spend an inordinate amount of time building bases or developing resources, Halo Wars is an action focused game. By the end of the third mission you’ll have a distinct feel for how the game wants you to play. Set up your base, get your marines and vehicles ready, and go kill the Covenant. Everything you loved to do in previous Halo games is present, so prepare to run over groups of grunts with a Warthog before unleashing hell on a squad of Elites who are defending a stronghold.
All of this mapped to a circle control system and the 360 controller’s face buttons, which work similarly to “hot keys” in PC RTS titles. A few presses of the “A” button followed by a strategic hit of your special weapon (grenades, napalm, flamethrower, Warthog ram, etc) with “Y” and you’ll be right in the thick of battle. You can’t drag and box squads like you may be used to, but Ensemble has ingeniously made anything you need a button press away. Want to get all of your troops rolling? Press “LB” and you’ll be in control of everyone. How about just that group about to be surrounded by Hunters and Elites? Set the cursor in their area and hold down “A” to make a selective circle grow around them and send them to a covered position to continue the fight.
Stay tuned right here to Blend Games for our full review of Halo Wars on February 20th.