HALO WARS Demo Impressions
My God It Actually Works?!?
©2009 Arthur Kotsopoulos:- CE (C0mmunity Editor)
With under a month before Halo Wars hits shelves all around the world many are hanging out to try the demo before considering buying the game. Normally anything with ‘Halo’ on it would be a given to sell well, but with Halo Wars there is a sense of cautiousness from the gaming public.
This is because Halo Wars isn’t a first person shooter (FPS) like previous Halo games, it’s a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game. Gamers know the RTS genre’s reputation on consoles. Very few have ever worked much less been successful.
This has led to fans of the genre being critical of console versions of RTS games and for the majority of console gamers to prefer other genres like FPS that work better on consoles. RTS games involve effort and patience. They aren’t like FPS or racing games where you can jump in and out when you want.
With an RTS once you jump in you have to actually use your brain and concentration to devise a cunning strategy to win. So it is natural to have doubts as to whether the game will fail or succeed, even with the Halo name.
Microsoft will already have an uphill climb to get the high sales a Halo game would normally command, but they definitely deserve high sales with Halo Wars.
Ensemble Studios have crafted something beautiful that every Halo fan and even many non-Halo fans will come to love and enjoy. It will even drag in those who doubt that good RTS games can be made on consoles. It’s an easy game to pick up and play off the bat even with little knowledge of the genre.
Start up the demo and you get the instantaneous feeling like you did when you started up Halo 1, 2 and 3. The rush of excitement and anticipation to get into the action floods through your body.
The Halo Wars demo offers two levels from the campaign: a basic and advanced tutorial along with a skirmish match of 1 vs 1 on Chasms, an icy cold battlefield, and one of the 14 maps available in the game for skirmish. So whilst it sits at a heavy 1.4gb, it offers enough juice for your casual/hardcore gamer to try out and easily decide whether or not they want to buy this game.
For me Halo Wars was always a must buy title, but playing the demo has rekindled my love for RTS games. To everyone who has doubts about how complicated the game is to play leave them at the door because Ensemble Studios have come up with a cunning control configuration that is a breeze to learn and use.
The Basic/Advanced tutorial easily explain the controls of the game and after having finished them you should have a good knowledge of the fine points of controlling your troops and the few shortcuts, such as hold A to create a brush circle that selects all the units in the vicinity, left/right on the d-pad to switch between your base, or pressing LB to select every unit on the screen.
There’s not much else you need to know about the controls: you press X after selecting a unit to make him move to the destination, A selects a unit, the left thumbstick moves the camera. If you have played Dawn of War on PC then you will easily understand the building concepts of this game: you have your base and all you do is build buildings and units.
You don’t even need to worry about where to build a building, so even new gamers in the genre won’t have trouble with the game. The menus are almost identical to that of Halo 3 along with the music which is a mix of old and new that still holds that Halo touch, so upon playing the game it won’t feel like some random game with Halo tacked onto it.
For a demo there is a lot of love but skirmish mode is the stand out of all the features offered. The Covenant and Humans are almost identical in strength. Each have the their own pros and cons and Ensemble have perfectly balanced them both out so that each battle isn’t always one sided, unless you really do use strategy.
Before playing my first skirmish match in the game I was a bit skeptical about the Covenant on normal difficulty: will they use the RTS favourite and just rush? How strong will their attacks be? After 10 minutes I found out when I was informed they had built a Scarab. A few seconds later I had a Scarab, Honor Guard Elites, Hunters, and a whole bunch of other covenant forces to deal with and that was the end of me.
So I decided to restart the match and build my defences more carefully, reading each units stats and how they work. Within 10 minutes the Covenant had mounted a full-on assault on my base and a minute later I had decimated them because of my defensive units. After a good 30 minutes of just building an army and continually upgrading my technology it was my turn to attack.
I sent my army off to attack the Covenant and because of my advanced technology, having given my units the best of the best, I won the match with ease and much satisfaction. It was a tough initial match but it offered fun and enjoyment which is what Ensemble Studios I feel were going for with this title.
Halo Wars offers something enjoyable to the die-hard fans of the Halo franchise or RTS genre yet also is accessible to those who either don’t like the franchise or RTS games. The whole game just flowed; it came together and worked perfectly. The concept worked in reality.
If you’re a fan that loves to just run and gun then Campaign really is what you’re looking for. The two levels that are offered in the demo are pretty much straight forward where all you do is build a few unit and bam go and attack. Imagine the epic battles in Halo 3 with a top view perspective and that’s exactly how Halo Wars plays out for most of the time. Everything works and not once did I see a gameplay or graphical glitch.
Both the Covenant and Humans have a huge array of units to play with (some are new and some familiar), gorgeous environments like the icy battlefields, easy controls and a campaign that takes place 20 years before the events of the original Halo game.
It is one thing to have a game that runs flawlessly in some areas and not others, and it is another thing for it to run so well in all areas, and Ensemble have managed to create a game that does just that.
Those who thought this was just another game with the Halo name tacked on to make Microsoft more money think again.
For the RTS and Halo fans and also the non-RTS and Halo fans, this is a top notch game that most will enjoy and be surprised by. It’s everything and anything a Halo fan or gamer looking for fun would want.
Look out for our full retail review coming soon.
©2009 Arthur Kotsopoulos:- CE (C0mmunity Editor)
Filed under: Xbox 360 News