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Halo Wars
Halo Wars Hands On Preview
Written Monday, November 17, 2008 By Dan Webb
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Usually, a Halo themed game from someone other than Bungie would be declared sacrilegious and absurd. A bit like someone trying to rewrite the bible or Shakespeare, but you kind of don’t get that feeling when you hear that one of the RTS daddies was picking up the franchise to make an action packed RTS title. We trekked in to London last week, to the Greenwich Planetarium no less, to see whether the soon to be, no more, Ensemble Studios were truly able to pull it off a Halo game without Bungie heading it up.

Halo Wars starts its adventure on February 4th, 2531; a whole 20 years before the legendary Spartan 117 graced us with his presence, but fear not, there are still Spartans aplenty present. The whole feel of Halo Wars feels very much like Halo would expect to, from the gun sounds to the menus, right the way down to the incredible license likenesses of all the game’s characters. The influences of the license are incredibly accurate and it’d make any Halo universe fan feel right at home.

Unlike any other console RTS, Halo Wars is in fact built from the ground up to be a console title with no plans for a PC title, so everything is simplistic. Whether you want to select all on screen units (Right Bumper) or your whole battalion (Left Bumper); it truly is a classic “command & conquer” style button build with the same button (X) being used to control and attack enemy units.

The game pretty much is pick up and play as well, and after 5 minutes on the game there wasn’t really that much more to learn and it’s likely that this accessibility will make the game appeal to a much wider audience. Unlike other RTS titles, the game doesn’t put any sort of emphasis on resource collection and the resource pot builds up naturally over time, however, there are optional collective resource elements round the map, but this are by no means, vital to your success.

The game feels very much like a game built for Halo fans rather than one to cater for the RTS junkies of this world. The emphasis most definitely is on high octane action and simplicity, rather than an in-depth RTS title with all sort of “rock, paper, scissors” strategies you have to keep an eye on. On the first 3 missions we played, it’s very much possible to build a massive army and steam roll the opposition which may I add is great fun but seems more action than RTS.

The d-pad is effectively used in Halo Wars and makes the navigation of the field that much easier; giving players the option to jump to the base (down); jump to a recent alert (right) as quickly as moving squads (left) and accessing the Spirit of Fire (up) for some battlefield assistance.

As expected, Halo Wars features a simplistic but familiar upgrade and unit creation mechanic, known by the Ensemble team as the “circle interface”. It’s very similar to the dialogue and weapon selector that we’ve seen in Mass Effect and is as easy to use. When selecting your main base, you can expand your mini empire by building barracks and specialist vehicle factories and from there, using the wheel, you can select what you want to build (queue them up if you’ve got enough credits) and then take on the world. All the vehicles are typical Halo vehicles with the Scorpion tank and Warthogs amongst many more on offer for the UNSC and each with the ability to upgrade them to throw grenades and such.

It should be noted that the single player campaign is also playable in co-op but players only get to take control of the UNSC forces. If you want to take control of the quicker, but generally weaker infantry based Covenant, you’ll have to go in to the game’s multiplayer aspect which features up to 3 on 3 skirmishes amongst other things that we’re not privy to just yet.

There’s no doubting that Halo Wars is a fun game that is not only extremely accessible but takes the Halo license and from what we’ve seen, does a fine job at recreating the world. To call it an out and out RTS though would be slightly misleading. Sure the game has all the makings of an RTS but it’s simple controls, emphasis on action and lack of strategy aspect would mean that this may appeal to more than your average RTS gamer, but may not create the substance and depth that an RTS’er may latch on to.

Halo Wars is heavy on combat with great cinematics and more than likely a similar story to boot, but it’s not going to tax the strategy inclined. Whether the higher difficulty levels embrace that more, remains to be seen, but Halo Wars is still looking like a fun and immersive game that will no doubt please any Halo fan out there.

Check back later for our interview with Lead Designer, Graeme Devine where we discuss the mechanics, the closing of Ensemble and a whole array of other great questions.

Or check out the 9 latest Halo Wars screens in the gallery. They're pretty swanky!

Halo Wars is tipped for an Xbox 360 release date of February 2009.

 




 
 

User Comments

Forum Posts: 34
Comment #1 by the punishermx
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 09:38:16 AM
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cool


Forum Posts: 599
Comment #2 by RRIKER
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 09:39:05 AM
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Interesting...may get it despite MSGS kicking the dev studio on its butt


Forum Posts: 19
Comment #3 by Briggy666
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 09:44:37 AM
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omg i hate theese kind of games they bore me so much lol. I cant wait for halo recon.


Forum Posts: 21
Comment #4 by MG6490
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 09:45:11 AM
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I enjoy playing command and conquer and to have a Halo themed rts seems an awesome idea. Cant wait


Forum Posts: 245
Comment #5 by Reaper_Grim
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 09:51:13 AM
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As much as i liked the halo series. I just can't imagine a halo as a RTS being enjoyable. I think I will have to leave this one on the shelf.


Forum Posts: 7
Comment #6 by puma
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 09:53:05 AM
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london? the studio is based here in dallas. why london?


Forum Posts: 336
Comment #7 by Poisonheadcrab
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 09:56:23 AM
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The chopper's in it. Cool.


Forum Posts: 0
Comment #8 by callofdutyachievements
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 09:58:36 AM
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this game is dumb


Forum Posts: 108
Comment #9 by Breadhead
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 10:00:34 AM
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Sounds great :) I wonder how a Gears of War RTS would look like x)


Forum Posts: 116
Comment #10 by Hells Zargon
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 10:05:26 AM
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I love the way this game appears to be turning out. Really want to play a demo or something.


Forum Posts: 407
Comment #11 by Malikkr
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 10:05:55 AM
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Can't wait! Looks cool


Forum Posts: 1661
Comment #12 by Daywalker-san
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 10:14:40 AM
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So there are only 2 civs? sort of lame, i was hoping for a flood playable set, something similar to the Zerg of starcraft.


Forum Posts: 14788
Comment #13 by Webb [STAFF]
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 10:38:43 AM
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Flood are in the game (confirmed at TGS) but they are not playable.


Forum Posts: 575
Comment #14 by cincychaos
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 10:44:19 AM
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This game looks sweet, everything seems to be going in the right direction for it! It will be interesting to see how the Flood will be, since that one vs a million won't be present.


Forum Posts: 268
Comment #15 by Lord of Orion
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 10:53:18 AM
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I love RTS games because they bring such a good level of competition, but unless this comes with a keyboard and mouse, I wont be getting this!


Forum Posts: 402
Comment #16 by Scaysie
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 11:01:18 AM
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I've wanted this game so much since it was announced....


Forum Posts: 128
Comment #17 by SteakSalad
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 11:21:46 AM
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This game is going to be swiggity-sweet.


Forum Posts: 755
Comment #18 by l.maciver
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 11:55:03 AM
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looks good and arcady


Forum Posts: 335
Comment #19 by Barrowland
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 12:21:03 PM
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halo is dead ... so boring and so annoying.only good thing was 4 player co-op but that got boring to. just trying to make some coin off of this dying beast of a title


Forum Posts: 1217
Comment #20 by ClutchPapi34
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 12:35:52 PM
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looks pretty sick


Forum Posts: 19
Comment #21 by hallam
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 01:18:56 PM
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i love gaming


Forum Posts: 7
Comment #22 by SgtSnyder88
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 01:32:53 PM
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would be so much better on PC


Forum Posts: 313
Comment #23 by Kyanite
Monday, November 17, 2008 @ 01:55:57 PM
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@ #19

Halo is dead? Yeah, two Halo-themed games are in development, both of which are getting praise from gamers and critics alike. Yeah, it's pretty dead.

It's funny how many people are whining about a console-based RTS. It's like they're not reading and/or understanding the part that says, "It's built from the ground up to work with the 360 controller." I have no doubts that this game will be easy and fun to play. I'm eagerly awaiting this game.


Forum Posts: 0
Comment #24 by xxkillerxx2000
Tuesday, November 18, 2008 @ 07:25:42 PM
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ya halo rocks but for a RTS game this is going to be beter than all the halos put together.


Forum Posts: 123
Comment #25 by an7man
Saturday, November 22, 2008 @ 09:49:28 PM
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I've been waiting for this game for a while now. Hopefully they make it more difficult for RTS fans....


Forum Posts: 0
Comment #26 by ALEX IS L33T
Sunday, November 23, 2008 @ 11:45:17 AM
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idk if i want it... I might buy it for the Mythic Map Pack though!?!?!


Forum Posts: 0
Comment #27 by Daniel ere D93
Monday, November 24, 2008 @ 05:11:14 AM
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I was a big fan of halo but now Halo is just old when will they stop wasting time why don't they live up to it halo is old dead and as for rst i like them and all but the way you build your units is really bad i will buy this game but i think it wont be the best.


Forum Posts: 0
Comment #28 by shadowst17
Friday, December 12, 2008 @ 07:44:08 AM
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gr8 game im goin get this


Forum Posts: 0
Comment #29 by rodney25121994
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @ 04:57:27 AM
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I think it will be wierd they should have just made odst instead of it and then odst would be out earlier :P


Forum Posts: 0
Comment #30 by achievement60
Thursday, March 12, 2009 @ 05:22:43 PM
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i have the and it prtty good


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Game Info
Developer:
Ensemble Studios
Genre:

Release:

US March 03, 2009
Europe February 27, 2009
Japan February 26, 2009

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