I put in time on Halo Wars after trying out the demo for the 360 and as Ensembles’ last magnum opus and something of a Halo fan myself, it’s a refreshing change of pace from having to run ‘n gun through another alien landscape that looks like it was pulled from the backwoods of Oregon. I like the fact that Microsoft has decided to expand on the Halo fiction by creating an RTS out of it (which is, ironically, what Halo had first been conceived as before becoming the FPS, Marathon-flavored, juggernaut it is today) and who better able to handle it than Ensemble? The sad part of this story is that the fabled developer had been shuttered following the completion of the project meaning that one of the founding pillars for the modern RTS is no more.
But the game is fun. It’s not dramatically complicated or as deeply nuanced as, say, Total War: Empires, or most any other PC RTS, but it does deliver a console-sized bite of the genre on the 360 in grand fashion…much as EA did with its Battle for Middle Earth series, or Sega’s Universe at War. There’s something satisfyingly cool in leading a gaggle of Scorpion tanks and Warthogs into battle against the Covenant’s best in what feels like a throw down, slug throwing battle for the future (it’s really a prequel by 20 years before the first Halo, but it doesn’t make it any less awesome). If you’re itching for a new RTS on your 360 and are a fan of sci-fi like Halo, Halo Wars might help broaden your tactical horizons.