Review by DandyQuackShot

"The Best Spinoff of the Halo Series"

Halo Wars is the best spinoff of the Halo series to date. The reason of course, is that a spinoff Halo first person shooter where you are not Master Chief is borderline heresy. Halo Wars actually does the ODST guys a whole lot of justice than Halo: ODST does. Maybe I am just bummed about the Halo Reach beta being pushed back (might as well wait for the game to come out anyway now) but ODST felt like a warm up game to keep fans involved. In my opinion, Halo Wars seems to do a much better job to get Halo fans ready for the up and coming Halo Reach because its story is set before the Halo Reach and subsequent Master Chief plots. A timeline in Halo Wars helps out a lot in getting the story set up.

For an avid fan of console RTS games I was very much pleased with the game play and very competitive online play. For experienced gamers and avid Halo fans, playing Halo Wars online will definitely give you the ultimate meaning of what "Trueskill" means. For casual gamers and those wanting to enjoy the story the campaign is much easier to play through and unfortunately kind of short and melodramatic but the missions are rather unique.

The campaign follows the story of the introduction of the humans to the flood. The Covenant have been wrecking havoc on a human colony world and the Spirit of Fire catches the trail of the Arbiter who is out looking to recover artifacts for the Prophets. Like the story of ODST I just could not buy into it. The characters do not get enough time to make you want to remember their names but the cutscenes with the three Spartans that accompany the ship are what make the game. You can't have Halo without Spartans. A timeline included in the extras allows you to unlock logs and background for the setup of the entire Halo storyline. So if you ever wanted to know what was going on with this series then this is actually the game that will tell you.

Game play is very standard of typical RTS games except you have a few neat features thrown in. If you play as the UNSC it will seem rather standard with a few special bombing campaigns you can launch. The ODST guys are also a special attribute of one of the game's heroes and you can launch them in by the dozen and ruin a lot of evening plans for your enemies. As the Covenant, you actually get the chance to take control of the elite and brute heroes and smash your way through. The bases are about the same as you start out making supply structures and you have structures for infantry, vehicles and aircraft. A tech bonus structure and upgrade structure is all you have left to build. A lot of new units that are totally new to the series make their way in. If Master Chief could fly a Vulture then the whole series would have concluded in the first game. They totally left out the four wheelers though. Bases are very simple and the more you take over the higher the advantage you have over an opponent.

Online play is very competitive, but for an RTS game the competition is fair for both sides. You pick a leader who has a special ability and depending on who you pick you may find that you have a very considerable advantage over the other person's special ability. And you can't end a game early without setting yourself up for failure.

The achievements are split between the campaign and the skirmish but the biggest perk of Halo Wars is the timeline where you play to unlock events on the calendar. Here you can understand what is going on with this series.

Final Recommendation 9/10

Halo Wars does a great job for the series and sets the story on a decent path to prep you for the Halo Reach game. There is something for casual gamers and the hardcore elites but for a series built on innovating the first person shooter genre its fun to finally get to control the fight to save humanity from above.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/30/10

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

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