Halo Wars | Ensemble Studios
It's Saturday, so that means it's time for another good game for real cheap. Today's game takes a familiar xbox first person shooter franchise and brings it into the all new territory.
Halo Wars - released March 3, 2009 is a real-time strategy (RTS) game developed by Ensemble Studios. Set in the Halo Universe in the year 2531, 21 years before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved. Like other RTS games, the player takes control of the entire battle instead of individual characters and leads human soldiers aboard the warship Spirit of Fire in an effort to stop the genocidal alien Covenant from discovering a mysterious forerunner technology that could speed the human/Covenant war to a fatal conclusion.
As cool as it is to jump a squad of Warthogs over ravines
and drops, the chances are limited to the more cinematic
moments of the game | Ensemble Studios
There was a lot of skepticism when Halo Wars was announced. Especially since this was after Bungie's separation from Microsoft and their involvement was limited if anything. This skepticism was made worse when they revealed the game was in fact set twenty years before the first Halo yet somehow involved the alien menace known as the flood. Some people might not notice it but Halo does have a pretty in depth story if you include other media such as books and graphic novels. So how do you take what is described as "the single scariest thing in the galaxy" and insert them into the story twenty years early without anyone knowing about them later? Well to be honest the game leaves that vague and hints at the possibility of sequels.
New units such as the UNSC Vultures and Covenant Locust help battles feel epic |
The story however is good. From the first cut scene to the last, it feels, looks, and sounds like a Halo adventure. Once you're actually playing, the inclusion of the flood never really raises any red flags when it comes to lore. The characters are interesting and Ensemble took a chance making your main hero character a regular marine instead of a Spartan but Sgt. Forge (seen below) successfully raises to the rank of butt kicking hero without the cybernetic implants Master Chief has. The one downside would be that the game consists of only a single campaign. It's fifteen levels long but the entire story is told from the human perspective. The Covenant are playable only in skirmish mode and the flood were left unplayable so they wouldn't have to be balanced. While the Covenant does have a story, it's limited to a few cut scenes throughout the game. The cut scenes by the way are gorgeous.
Sergeant John Forge readily takes up the mantle of Hero when
no Spartans are available | Ensemble Studios
Also, skirmish mode is deceptively in depth despite the inclusion of only two factions. When a player chooses their faction, they also choose their leader who determines what special abilities they get such as supply pads already being upgraded or what special attacks or units they get.
Overall, Halo Wars works both as a Halo game and a RTS game. It's not 100% flawless as it would be nice to have multiple campaigns but it does get the job done. If you're a Halo fan you should definitely give it a try. Ensemble did a great job recreating the feel of the Halo universe without rehashing anything. If you're an RTS fan, you might like it too since it's one of the only good console RTS games this gamer has come across.
Halo Wars is available for $17.99 used at the following locations. (Sorry, if you buy it new it doesn't fit into the cheap games category.)
GameStop - Mall of Louisiana
6401 Blue Bonnet Blvd.
GameWare - Mall of Louisiana
6401 Bluebonnet Blvd.
Play N Trade
4410 Highland Road