I've been a fan of strategy games since the womb. Nothing satisfies my inner geek like armor upgrades and fort building. The core rock/paper/scissors idea behind unit balance in RTS games and their respective game manuals has occupied my eyeballs for countless hours while sitting on the toilet. Unfortunatly I abandoned my only copy of AOE3 at some douche bag's house and I lack the minimal technical savvy to apply the no cd crack. Without a simulated army of peons to point and click towards their impending doom, a small part of me has died.
So when I picked up a copy of Halo Wars I got really excited and peed a little.
Base building is limited to small, confined spaces placed throughout the maps. My favorite thing about RTS games is forging massive empires with walls and fortifications and then defending it from marauding pinko-communists. You don't really get that in this game. All the bases are exactly the same. The turrets are always in the same place and there really isn't much strategy involved in going on the attack. You just spam the Y button on the center of the base until the damn aliens (non-americans) eat it. Aside from having no choice where you place your fortress, they do look really sharp and have a very artistic sci-fi feel.
Actually, the whole game looks great. From snow capped mountains to mountains covered in trees to mountains heaped with burning debris, it was a treat for the ol' glazzies to scout around in my spartan piloted warthog. Ensemble did a spot on job creating the Halo universe from a top down view. Another complaint (yes, I'm a pessimist, we're all gonna die) is that the zoom feature seems pointless. You can't zoom in very close and you can't zoom out very far either. What's the point in all those beautiful graphics if you can't get up close and personal to check out your armada of talking, warhammer wielding, fascist gorillas?
Being the loyal, single-minded bastard that I am, if this game hadn't been made by Ensemble Studios I probably wouldn't have played it. I've always been a console gamer at heart anyway so I was floored when there was talk of a playable strategy game for my expensive ass Xbox 360. I realize there is only so much they can do with this game genre outside the PC, and maybe they didn't have a lot of time on their hands to come up with innovate gameplay ideas. From such a great game developer I guess I'm just spoiled with in depth statistics and resource gathering. I DID miss the resource gathering by the way. Fo... sho... If I don't have peons then my enemy doesn't have peons therefore I can't ruthlessly sabotage them while they run away helplessly screaming. Yeah, I know, I'm sick. Admit it, you like it too.
All in all. Fun game for like a week. The music, while um... musical.. kind've made me want to take a nap. After discovering all the possible unit configurations in the first few days of playing the game, that also made me want to take a nap. So I did. Now I feel groggy. It's too bad this was the last game from Ensemble Studios before their final death rattle. I'm sure the great minds behind this game and others of its kind will branch off into the world and take with them their creative ideas for bringing strategy games to couches and TVs everywhere.
Go freck yourself