Halo Wars

Halo Wars

Continuing the Starcraft 2 warm-up, Halo Wars seemed like a good way to spend a weekend. It didn’t even take a day to play through the single-player as covenant missions where (sadly) not included in the campaign, but on the other hand what was there felt varied. As far as RTS games go, Halo Wars has rather conventional mechanics but it has some very interesting examples of level design which makes it feel very rich. On the other hand, it has a little too many timed missions that you need to replay from the start if you fail, and due to the nature of console controllers simple things like placing troops where you want them or selecting the troops you want is annoyingly difficult. I liked the game on the whole but playing through the entire campaign I still didn’t feel like I got the hang of it.

Story-wise, it is about as poor as the rest of the army games, but it gave me sort of a realization. I didn’t mind the narrative in the ordinary Halo games that much, the clichées were all the same as in other games but it revolved around an emotionless supersoldier that you could empathize with, if only because he seemed to care as little for the cheesy dialogue as you did. Maybe a single likeable character is all we really need to like a story, maybe such a character can spring from our contempt of the other characters or maybe we just need a story that feels like it resonates with the gameplay.

Halo: Combat Evolved was far from the first good console FPS, but I would still consider it a design landmark. Bungie looked at things that were a poor fit for consoles, such as managing an array of weapons and having ready access to an unlimited number of save states, and worked around them to create a new kind of FPS that felt interesting rather than dumbed-down. Halo Wars does not seem to go this route at all and insists of giving the player challenges that are difficult to handle with a joypad, as if to boast about how well the controls were solved. While the controls have indeed been solved remarkably well, it is still not as intuitive as having a mouse and 50 keys at your disposal so Halo Wars sometimes feels like it should have been a PC game.

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Posted on Apr 05/09 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »