?Halo Wars? is fun but simple

Albert Aguilera

Coming March 3 is the latest installment to the Halo series, and it’s not a first person shooter. Instead it’s a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game (as Halo was originally intended) brought to us by the great people at Ensemble Studios (Age of Empires franchise).

Bungie Studios did not produce this game as they separated from Microsoft after Halo 3. ‘Halo Wars’ is an Xbox 360 exclusive and it is currently available as a downloadable demo via Xbox LIVE along with several short cinematic and live videos.

For those of you not familiar with RTS games, it’s where you command several small armies on a giant map trying to take over every available territory while destroying the opposition. To succeed you must gather supplies and build armories, barracks and several other military-type buildings. Like most RTS games it has a ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ approach where ground vehicles are’ ‘ ‘ strong against infantry, infantry is strong against aircraft, and aircraft are strong against vehicles.’

‘Halo Wars’ is set 20 years before the events in the original Halo game.’ The objective is to lead an elite group of Spartans through several different campaigns as they attempt to recapture planet Harvest after it’s taken over by a coalition of alien races known as the Covenant. The cinematic cut scenes that have been released are simply amazing, and the game play is very simple. RTS veterans will probably find the game limiting, but it being Halo themed makes it all that much better. It’s perfect for new comers of this genre.

Now I’m not one for PC games or keyboard/mouse controllers, but this game is in desperate need of them. One major problem is trying to select individual or several different units at once because of the lack of a mouse. Navigating the camera across the map is also a little harder and time consuming but other than those control flaws, this game is a great time.

The game offers single player, multi player, co-op and online multi player through LIVE and allows you to play as both the UNSC (humans) and the Covenant. Though you can’t play a campaign with the Covenant they are available for versus and LIVE play. Players will also encounter the mindless, parasitic alien race known as the Flood in the campaign mode, but unfortunately they are not a playable.

Both the UNSC and the Covenant have their strengths and weaknesses, but you will notice that one alient grunt can take a group of marines no problem. Covenant items, soldiers and upgrades are more expensive but are more powerful. UNSC relies in strength by numbers and speed. The Covenant weapons like in the other Halo games are usually better as well.’

I strongly recommend you download the demo before you rent or purchase this game. You may or may not like it, and to spend $59.99 plus tax on a video game these days is ridiculous. Being that it is currently the #1 LIVE item of all time it may take a while to download all 1.4 gigabytes of it. Word to the wise: Get an external fan for your Xbox 360 before it dies. For those of you familiar with RTS games, you know a single match can last hours.