Summary: This may be the best example I've
seen of a game that will be immensely popular, and sell insanely well,
entirely because of the franchise it's based on. If this was "Generic
Sci-Fi Battle Game X," instead of "Halo," nobody...and I do mean NOBODY...would
give a damn about it.
Pros: Great story vignettes and decent graphics.
Cons: Idiotic control scheme and crappy handicapping design elements.
Excerpt: Halo Wars takes the Halo franchise and tries it in the real time strategy genre. Which is slightly better than the first person shooter genre. Control groups of troops and have them attack enemies in the way. Build bases, troops, reactors, etc. Send those troops into the intense battle ground to achieve objectives. The search and destroy is the most prevalent, but there are also protect, and escape levels (editor: to name a few).
Conclusion: Even non-RTS players and non-Halo fans will be hard pushed to find something they dislike in Halo Wars. The interface is slick, the production values are high and the level of polish renders this a true Halo experience, right down to the menu screens and evocative soundtrack. Halo Wars emerges as not only a great game, but also a significant step in adapting the RTS for home consoles.
Excerpt: Halo Wars, for the unaware, is a Halo-based real time strategy game created by Ensemble. It’s not just an RTS that’s set in the Halo universe and which dons the Halo name, but also one that actually captures the feel of a Halo game brilliantly. The presentation is generally superb from start to finish, the controls are streamlined and easy to understand, and like all Halo games it’s packed full of familiar extras and unlockables.
Conclusion: Concept: Build an RTS for console from the ground up, rather than shoehorning a PC design onto a gamepad
Graphics: You can't reasonably ask for more than this solid framerate and gorgeous ?presentation
Sound: Voice cues give needed updates on the strategic situation, and the music does the Halo franchise proud
Playability: Could it be? A control scheme that works reasonably well? Why, yes, it just might!
Summary: Halo Wars is an RTS game based on the Halo universe where players will command armies of familiar and new UNSC units in its initial encounters against the Covenant, an alien coalition threatening to obliterate mankind. The Historic Battle update will introduce four new multiplayer Skirmish maps that highlight key turning points in the UNSC/Covenant war.
Excerpt: Microsoft could slap the word "Halo" on a steaming pile of cow dung and it would sell millions of copies on the Xbox 360, so powerful and popular is brand Master Chief. Halo Wars, Microsoft's first non-FPS, non-Bungie developed Halo game, defies any cynicism gamers might have about the "milking" of the franchise. Not only is it a lot of fun, and unmistakeably Halo, but it's just about the best RTS on a console. It's also a hell of a brave move, when you think about it.
Summary: Halo Wars does for the RTS genre what Halo did for console FPS. This is neither the most nuanced or complicated strategy game on the market, but Halo Wars succeeds as no other title before it in building a functional and fun mechanic using little more than a d-pad and some face buttons.
Conclusion: All in all, Halo Wars is a very good release. It may not satisfy every Halo fan, it may not live up to the standards of every RTS fan. Overall though, more people will enjoy it for what it is than not. Sadly Microsoft chose to close Ensemble Studios down shortly before the launch of the game and while Microsoft has vowed continued community support, it is a shame that the creators of this game are no longer with us.