Sunday, March 20, 2011

Halo Wars Completed for the 6th Time

Now two thirds of the way through the franchise, I've completed Halo Wars for the 6th time. Obviously the odd title out, Halo Wars is a real time strategy game instead of a first person shooter and it's set over 21 years prior to the rest of the franchise. This gave Ensemble Studios plenty of creative freedom when crafting the Campaign's story and it was great to see them incorporate many elements of the expanded universe.

While sadly there is no Covenant Campaign, the UNSC-based missions are well designed and possess a great deal of variety that keeps things fresh and enjoyable for the player. Taking the skills I've learned from Multiplayer into the Campaign, I actually found it easier on Heroic this time, but certainly not in a negative way.

The game's Cinematics, in traditional RTS fashion, are of excellent quality and help flesh out the core story as well as provide the Covenant's perspective on things. It is too bad that the Arbiter himself never appears in-Campaign, but at least he can be used in both Skirmish and Multiplayer.

Visually the game looks excellent for a console RTS, and the voice acting is solid and the sound effects are pure Halo. The soundtrack is exceptional, with the music clearly drawing upon what's come before but giving it its own unique flavour that works for the RTS genre. Of course what Ensemble Studios should really be praised for is the game's controls.

Simple and intuitive, Halo Wars is just so easy to control given the limitations of a Controller. That's not to say there isn't room for improvement, far from it, but at no point during the Campaign was I ever left fumbling to try and make things work, to manage my units or queue up production.

Halo Wars really adds a great breath of fresh air to the franchise, innovates for its platform, but certainly retains the core Halo feeling all the way. It provides a unique look at the Halo universe and shows the potential should 343 Industries decide to branch out to more than just the FPS genre.

And with that, in the years to come, I greatly hope we get to see a Halo Wars 2.

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