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Ensemble Studios



Spring 2009




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Halo Wars


halo wars          halo wars


Ensemble Studios will likely always be remembered for Age of Empires no matter what else they produce.  That doesn’t seem to have stopped them from trying because even with a short hands-on play session with Halo Wars I can feel something good will be happening for console real-time strategy games.  Dynamic yet simple to use and understand, I had a group of UNSC soldiers, a couple of Warthogs and a Spartan soldier within five minutes of sitting down with Halo Wars.


That ease of control is something Technical Director at Ensemble Studios, Dave Pottinger, is most proud of.  Building Halo Wars on the Xbox 360 from the ground



up surely helped and the controls feels full-featured even if many of the PC strategy standards, like waypoints and formations, are not present.


Quickly jumping around the map is mapped to the D-pad.  If your base is under attack, just tapping the corresponding directional pad takes you right there.  Setting up build ques is just as easy.  Hold “A” on a


base structure and a sectional overlay gives you access to what units or upgrades you want to upgrade.  I was really surprised that it worked so well and this even extended to the base building, which is a great solution to “base sprawl”.  Rather than having a bunch of free-standing structures, in Halo Wars there’s one base “footprint” with several modular spaces available to build structures.  There are also turret placements on each corner.  Though I wasn’t able to play as the Covenant, their base structure is similar, with one central hub and branches to base structures.


halo wars          halo wars


Taking place many years prior to the events seen in the first Halo game, Ensemble Studios is somewhat free to pen their own story, which they were being very coy on in terms of firm details.


More than anything else, this is definitely a Halo game.  The perspective may have changed but everything else remains very consistent with what gamers have seen in the Halo first-person games.  And with Spartans able to rip open a Wraith tank and take it over, the appeal to hardcore Halo fans should be irresistible.


- Omni

(July 28, 2008)


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