You’ve fought across the galaxy and back as master chief putting down the covenant threat and soon you will take the seat as a member of the OSDT. In Halo Wars, you take a step back to a time to 20 years before the Halo rings were discovered, a time when Master Chief was just one of a vast army of Spartan super soldiers fighting for earths survival.
Halo Wars is the first console exclusive Real Time Strategy (RTS) game which pits armies against each other both in single player and in online multiplayer. It isn’t quite as complex as most RTS titles but it offers a fun gameplay experience for those that usually shy away from the genre and appeals to fans of the series at the same time.
RTS titles have always suffered on consoles due to the absence of a mouse and keyboard but in Halo Wars the control system is actually quite good and rather easy to use. It obviously isn’t going to be as responsive as playing on a PC but it still plays really well nonetheless.
The battles are epic, the storyline is awesome and the environments are rendered in lush detail. It stays true to the themes, mood and canon of the Halo universe. The cut scenes are great and full of tense action and chock full of interesting characters and situations. They don’t always excite as much as we hoped but they still push the story forward well and are beautiful to watch.
The Campaign mode only tells the human side of the story which is a real missed opportunity. We would have liked to see a Covenant story as well, much like there was both Horde and Alliance campaigns in classic RTS titles like Warcraft II. It gives the world and the story more scale allowing you to play both sides.
In multiplayer you can play as either Humans or covenant and both have their strengths and weaknesses. If you have played the Halo series, getting into Halo Wars multiplayer is very easy. You already know the basics of which units do what and you know how to counter the enemies units by using their polar opposite. The battles aren’t as epic online as in the single player mode but they are still a load of fun. In addition to going head to head against other players you can also play the campaign mode co-operatively too which makes it much more interesting than going alone.
Halo Wars isn’t a strong RTS title but it is a strong Halo title. It is rather simplistic and seems designed more for newcomers to the genre than hard core RTS fans. That being said, it is admirable to appeal to those that haven’t really played RTs before and it may well do wonders in pushing console based RTs moving forward into the future. If you are a fan of the Halo series, you really should pick up Halo Wars. However, if you only like Halo as a first person shooter frag-fest you may be disappointed.