Halo Wars

Diminishing Returns

The fifteen imaginative missions task you with everything from rescuing civilians to dragging gear up a steep slope, and often underscore the long-term ramifications of your command decisions. This is the spine of any strategy game. But most RTS games feature complex base and resource management mechanics that may make them less approachable to newbs but ultimately allow for more tactical depth. Halo Wars, on the other hand, is the complete opposite: it's incredibly user friendly but it also constrains advanced players by eliminating much of the strategic layer.

You will never roll into an opponent's base and be stunned by his military ingenuity because it's impossible to lay out your buildings in an inventive manner; you also cannot take advantage of environmental features. The end result is that battles will blend together and become less memorable in the long run. This is no doubt a conscious decision that was made in order to ensure balance and user-friendliness, but there are places where Halo Wars' streamlining goes too far. It's hard to imagine the rationale behind unit selection controls that don't allow you to do basic stuff like gather troops into groups, order them into simple formations, or even subtract individual units from your current force. Elaborate attack plans aren't impossible, but they require unnatural contortions that felt unnecessary.

Above and Beyond

Such constraints don't limit the fan-service appeal of the many detailed flourishes that enliven the battlefield. You can only have three Spartans at once-so much for the promised "armies" of them-but watching them take out Elite Honor Guard operatives from garrisoned cover and hijack poorly protected Covenant vehicles is energizing. UNSC troops tend to be a staid bunch, cranking out personality-free chatter, but every now and then somebody pipes up about getting enemy giblets in the grill, and you can always count on Covenant grunts to say something silly. You can even collect skulls by exploring and completing secondary objectives during the campaign to unlock goofy special toggles that exaggerate destruction physics or make Grunts die in a cloud of festive confetti.

Best of all, the prequel story doesn't content itself with simple name-dropping, and instead touches on all the science fiction themes that enabled the original trilogy to capture so many imaginations. I won't spoil any surprises here, but suffice it to say that there are stranger constructions in this universe than orbital rings. Of course, the enjoyment you get out of Halo Wars' storyline will depend on how much you already love the Halo 'verse.

Comments [24]

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I'm not a fan of RTS games at all, but if they made a Zelda RTS game I would buy it in a second. So I could see why fans of the Halo shooter games would wanna get this game regardless. It'll probably get way more sales than actual playtime.


This game is horrible i hate halo now even more dont know wats the reason for this game and it got 4 stars out of 5 no way the visuals r not that good anyway


I like this game and I have only played the demo. I'm looking forward to playing the full-version. I like how the game controls, it's very simple and straight forward. This is especially a good thing beings the fact that it is on a console and not a PC. I hate complex strategy control schemes on a console controller. It just slows the pace of a RTS game down messing around with bad controls. Also I like how this game puts more emphasis on combat rather than resource gathering and building placement etc. But, I could see where a hardcore RTS player might think this game is a little watered down for their taste. But so far, I like it.


This disappoints me. Here I thought it would revolutionize RTS gaming for consoles, but instead they've trimmed down the RTS elements, and the depth of a true strategy game is lost. Boohoo.


If you want Revolutionized RTS then go play "Valkyria Chronicles" for the PS3. That game take RTS's and completely turns it upside down. No online play or multiplayer, but the game has loads of depth and is refreshing to play. All "Halo Wars" is is a fun RTS, but not a Revolutionary RTS like everybody wanted.


Looks great. Hopefully its more revolutional that Valkyria Chronicles -.- The demo is pretty good

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