Halo Wars Preview
Finally the wait is over. The Halo Wars demo is here, or for me anyway it is. For those of you unaware what Halo Wars is then here’s Halo Wars in Lehman’s terms. Halo Wars is Command & Conquer skinned with everything to do with Halo. What’s even better about it is that it has been built from the ground up exclusively for the Xbox 360 console, so none of this PC to 360 port rubbish.
So after waiting a mammoth one hour for my Xbox 360 to download the 1.4Gb demo I was able to get started. Upon entering the menu screen I immediately got the feeling of deja-vu. Have I put my Halo 3 disk in or something? But all embarrassment was spared when the Halo Wars logo popped up on the screen. It wasn’t a bad thing though as I love the Halo 3 menu screen as it is very easy to navigate. I decided to avoid doing any tutorials on the game and jumped straight into the nitty gritty stuff of a Skirmish. This way I could see how hard the game was going to be to pick up and play.
In Skirmish mode you get the chance to have a one on one battle between the Covenant and the UNSC. You only get one map to play the Skirmish on though, called Chasms, but it still gives you a very good flavour of what to expect when the full game is rolled out later in the month. The demo does show that there are 14 maps to play on, with different maps having different team size limits and 3on3 being the largest of the maps.
Without giving away too much info on the fine details of the game, the basis is very much Command & Conquer-esque. You have to build up your army starting with your main base, then creating buildings that allow you to create further units and vehicles. It’s an ongoing cycle. The great thing about Halo Wars, and more importantly the great thing for Halo fans, is that all of our favourite characters are, from what I could see, in the game. You can build an army of Marines or Spartans and have them following behind a herd of Scorpions as back up. Same goes for the Covenant side. Banshee’s, Ghost’s and Grunts are all there for your viewing pleasure.
When you have finished playing around and getting a feel for the game in the Skirmish mode, it’s now time to take on 2 missions (forgetting the tutorial) to give you a taste into the main campaign mode. Different to Skirmish mode the campaign mode has you completing specific tasks. The first mission starts you off just controlling a Warthog. You then have to go and save your fellow army soldiers, and once done they become part of your army and so on. It’s not too difficult, but again, you want to keep playing and playing to find out what is going to happen. I’ll leave the second mission a surprise for you.
Game modes aside, the biggest thing I feared about a game like this was the controls. However from the time I have played with the game I already feel like I have been playing it for ages. Halo Wars uses a very clever and useful click-wheel when selecting which type of building to create, and as for the on screen selecting of characters, that couldn’t be simpler. Using the ‘A’ button you can easily select different units and whisk them off to another part of the map.
Talking about the maps, the graphics and attention to detail is great. Everything looks as it should be. The detail in the Warthogs as they drift around the map with the back end out is great. The glow behind the Ghosts as they boost away from an impending attack, it just feels like you’re watching Halo 3 from above. It’s just a shame that the demo only allows you to battle on one map in the Skirmish mode.
So to sum up the Halo Wars demo I would have to say it is excellent. It does what the purpose of a demo is. It gives you an insight and a flavour of what to expect when the game releases on 27th February 2009. The only disappointing thing about the demo is that it doesn’t allow gamers to taste online play against one and other, but if it’s anything like the Skirmish mode, it will be sure to be great.
What are you waiting for? Oh yeah, February 5th of course!