Review by KaizokuZack

"Tanks for the Game!"

Halo Wars is unique within its own game legacy. Produced by the masters of Real-Time Strategy, Ensemble, Halo Wars doesn't just stick you behind one hero bent on saving the human race, but rather in control of squads of marines, warthogs, tanks, and several new vehicles and characters. The game is far from perfect, but I believe it achieves its goal by standing out alongside the FPS that share its name.

Campaign:

The Campaign of Halo Wars is fifteen missions long, most taking roughly twenty to thirty minutes. Each campaign has various objectives, some are for winning the mission, others are for gaining skulls or achievements. In the campaign you'll mainly be in control of Sergeant Forge and his ground forces. Depending on the mission various specialty vehicles and squads can be created or gained.

The plot follows the UNSC Spirit of fire's journey as they follow the leads of ONI personnel, Dr. Anders to search for Forerunner relics. The covenant are usually just one step ahead of the crew the whole way through the game, setting up traps and barriers that serve as some of the games campaigns. Sergeant Forge is the main hero, while the Arbiter of this game serves as its primary antagonist. Also present in the story is the Captain of the Spirit of Fire, Captain Cutter, and leader of the Covenant the Prophet of Regret. The Brute Chieftain is a playable character in the multiplayer, but lacks any on-screen campaign time. Then there are the spartans...

Once you reach Act Four of the Campaign you'll come in contact with the Spartans. There are NINE total Spartans in the game, six from Spartan team OMEGA and the three main ones you'll use throughout the campaign. Alice, Douglas, and Jerome. Spartans also have the ability to hijack most vehicles, with the exception of Scarabs and Vultures.

Though the flood chronologically appear first in Halo Wars, the story ensures that the crew of the Spirit of Fire can't relay any information on them. The flood are a minor enemy in Halo Wars, though tough and annoying to deal with. Flood can also convert marines rather than killing them, making them hard to beat with just infantry.

The Campaign is detailed and while slow paced, it has phenominal cut scenes and you grow attached to the characters, Sergeant Forge especially.

Multiplayer

At most you can have teams of 3v3, online or bot controlled. The AI can either be ruthless or stupid, it's rare to see it fall in between the two. Online fights are extremely fun once you find a strategy that suits your style of play. You can tech up and gather resources for trade, or you can be the one who builds the armies and goes out to capture rebel bases or buildings.

The maps are all unique, and very detailed. Maps with the Flood on them replace the Rebels as occupying forces, and though non-playable, the Flood tend to be harder to eliminate than Rebel soldiers and bases.

In short, Multiplayer is fun, but is mainly used as a distraction from its Campaign. There are some issues with online play that keep it from being really good, such as ridiculous experience for ranking up and irregular true-skill ratings that make it hard to find reliable teammates.

Gameplay:

Human Leaders all possess a unique ship ability, a unique base-unit, a unit-upgrade, and an economy bonus. The majority of units will be mostly the same for human leaders, but depending on the bonuses you'll be more inclined to tech and work on a specific branch. Cutter's unique unit for example is the ODST, a very strong marine infantry group.

Covenant Leaders are actually present units on the battlefield. They boost power and morale of nearby units, while unleashing their own powers. Leaders also have a unique unit that is creatable from the main base. The Arbiter is perhaps the fiercest leader, going into a rage mode and slamming himself against enemy targets with both of his energy swords.

There is a unit balance in the game, though not entirely direct or accurate. Infantry do better against Air Units. Air Units do better against Vehicles. And Vehicles do better against Infantry. However there are some units such as Hunters, who are Anti-Vehicle Infantry, and Wolverines, which are Anti-Air Vehicles. Covenant come standard with anti-building Locusts, while UNSC are limited to Sergeant Forge's Cyclops, however Cyclops can repair damaged buildings and vehicles.

The bases once fully upgraded come with at most seven building slots and four turret slots. Planning of these slots is crucial in terms of winning matches.

The game provides a variety of options when it comes to selecting or moving units. There is a paintbrush tool, a select all and select on screen option. Also once all squads are selected, individual squads can be picked out.

Overall:

Halo Wars brings with it to the Halo Universe a great deal of character and story that is worthy of the Halo name. Each unit is unique, the environments are detailed and well planned, and the story is well constructed and enjoyable. There are a few flaws with continuity (such as the Spartan's armor) and I think that a little more detail could've gone into the units. Also though there is a nice mix of units, I feel that most games turn out exactly the same, normally a player techs up whichever unit is specialized and fight to the death... rinse repeat. Flamethrowers are awesome... but not practical against most of the enemy units. Same goes for a lot of other units too.

PS. One Scarab is awesome. Two Scarabs are better.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/28/09

Game Release: Halo Wars (US, 03/03/09)


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