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Thursday, 5 February 2009

Halo Wars [Slim]

So Halo Wars, pretty interesting stuff. It fits in between a full rts like supcom and a simplified strategy game like World in Conflict. There's bases and resources, unlike WIC and there's more direct control over units and special powers per unit like WIC. The bases are streamlined to make them usable and not fiddly, they're pre-built templates, with build spots. To build a structure, you select the vacant pad and decide what to build there. This makes control much easier, because the base layout is sorted for you, and it means you can whip back to your single base much quicker, as it's assigned to a spot on the dpad. Build menus and stuff are on a rotational menu a bit like Mass Effects, nice and quick, and you've the ability to queue up build commands. There's a basic upgrade tree too, which was unexpected.

The preset base makes for some interesting strategies, because you've limited build points. Do you build two shield generators, or one sheild generator and an extra power plant? Or go all out with research and fuck the defence?

The two factions are quite different too, the humans are all tech, the covenant are all religion type shit. The humans have a sort of satellite leader power type thing too, where the covenant have a leader unit that does more on the ground type stuff. Covenant seem to play more in the warcraft style, with units dropping via teleport to the leader, humans more like a conventional army rts stylee.

Graphics are really good, lots of good terrain stuff and some nice effects from fire all around. Nice tutorial and a good long demo with two maps and a skirmish mode that you can hammer to death.

Dont remember an rts that plays this well on a console since Shadow of the Horned Rat. Really looking forward to this now.

Edit, some more:

OK, I like this, can you tell? smile.gif

Some other things I forgot to mention: you can chose your leader, a bit like in advance wars, and get different special powers for each one. Makes for a bit of strategic variety, the demo only has two leaders available in skirmish though, one for each faction.

Other thing, units are very tightly capped, with different units making up different multiples of your limit so you've got to make some very careful decisions. For example, there's a supcom style 'experimental' unit, a fuckoff big cunt of a thing that marches round pooning, but this takes 20 unit points, the equiv of 20 grunt units, or 10 vehicles.

It also removes the opportunity to turtle or zerg, making the game much more rock/paper/scissors than other rts.

It's also got team modes, not in the demo, but they're listed, 2v2 and 3v3.

Having played the thing through a few times in skirmish, I've found the upgrade tree's quite light, each unit can be upgraded a few times, giving different abilities vs different unit types, so you can give your grunts mortars to make them effective vs vehicles or grenades to make em effective vs buildings. Buildings also have a couple of upgrades, but only a couple each. Not sure if this is a demo limitation or it's just keeping things simple.

Oh, and it's got some sort of intelligence system for alerting you of attacks. It tells you occasionally what the enemy is building, or where they're targetting their attacks. Not sure what that's about.

Painful bits? Well the controls work very well in the main, not a problem at all. Unit selection is 'sticky' so you don't have to be too precise and there's a really neat thing where if you have your cursor over a unit, the scrolling automatically follows that unit, particularly ace on scout units or aircraft. You generally select units in 3 ways, select all units with one bumper, all nearby units with another bumper, or a single unit with the 'a' button. What's not good is if you want to have squads. No support at all for that, so you end up separating units in different places and using the 'all nearby' option to move them around. That could do with a better solution somehow.

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