Games preview: Halo Wars

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The Independent Tech

Have you ever played one of the Halo games and wondered how the war Master Chief is fighting in came about in the first place? If so, then this is the game you’ve been waiting for.

The game’s mechanics won’t be what you’re expecting either. Halo Wars is the first game in the Halo franchise not to be played as a first-person shooter (FPS). Instead the game is a real-time strategy game (RTS), with the player viewing the action from above in the guise of commander-in-chief of the marine forces, along the lines of Command and Conquer or Age of Empires. Crucially, the game manages to maintain the feel of its FPS cousins; for example, the squawks of the enemy as your men pick them off will be extremely familiar to any one who has played one of the other Halo games.

This break from the FPS mould is a new, and somewhat surprising, route for Halo to take, but Graeme Devine, Lead Writer of the plot of Halo Wars and one of the main game designers at Ensemble Studios, looks upon the responsibility of producing the first Halo RTS as a challenge to be savoured:

“This game plays better than any other RTS with a controller. With Halo Wars we will do for RTS games what Halo did for first person shooters on consoles.”

Devine is excited to be implementing a new control interface for the game, designed specifically for the Xbox 360’s control pad. He thinks that the way the game plays with the control pad will have you ditching the traditional mouse and keyboard RTS controls, while the action-over-subtlety approach of the game certainly has a ‘Halo Universe’ feel to it. During the brief hands-on time we had with the game it was obvious that Halo Wars promises to be a highly polished addition to the Halo family.

Halo Wars is due for release in the first quarter of 2009

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