Call me weird but I’ve never really been a big fan of Halo – it’s possibly the most run-of-the-mill FPS ever made and not a patch on anything Valve’s ever made. Similarly, I just can’t get to grips with RTSs either. I can pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time but when it comes to collecting resources, building bases, fighting enemies and defending other units all at once, my brain goes into meltdown.
However, I’m willing to give Halo Wars a fair trial as it takes the Halo universe away from FPS and, being developed exclusively for the 360, is bound to be simpler than anything on the PC.
And luckily, that’s exactly how it plays. This one’s a stripped down RTS that will appeal to anyone else who finds the genre too complicated.
Once again the Coventant’s up to no good and, you being a commander on the orbiting ship the Spirit of Fire, must command your troops to stop them.
So, it’s the usual top-down perspective you’d expect and movement is simply a case of selecting units, moving a cursor to where you want to go and hitting the X button. Do this over an enemy and they’ll attack, and press the Y button and they’ll perform a special stack, be it throwing grenades or running troops down in your Warthog.
Base building is also very simple. You’re given areas where you can build them and also areas on the base itself where you can build upgrades for mining resources, upgrade the tech ability of your base, build defensive turrets and build barracks to train new troops and send them into battle.
Missions range from exploratory missions where you must gain new ground, lighting up the fog of war as you go, to refugee protection missions in towns where you must get them to the ships in time before they get destroyed. There are also more direct missions where you only control troops and vehicles as you infiltrate interior bases and perform specific missions.
Each of the 15 levels in the campaign are also topped and tailed with some superb cut-scenes. This is refreshing to see compared to menu screens and voice over or even worse, some pretty poor acting I’ve seen in other RTS games I don’t care to mention.
Master Chief’s not in the game but you do have a number of heroes to lead your troops into battle, including a number of Spartans who do look the part. You can also zoom into the action a little way to see what’s going on but you can’t get as close as the Dawn of War games.
And once you finish single player on the varying difficulties, you can try multiplayer. You can play one-on-one and even three-on-three as you command your troops, vehicles and ships from above and there are 14 maps of varying sizes to cater for how many people are playing.
I enjoyed Halo Wars simply because I’m not really into RTS games. If you’re in the same boat and you love Halo, this is definitely worth a look.
For anyone who’s comfortable with Command and Conquer, this game probably holds your hand a little too much and will ultimately frustrate you in that there’s not a lot of room and freedom within the campaign missions.
Halo Wars gets an excellent 8 out of 10.
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