Halo Wars

Developer: Ensemble Studios
Publisher:  Microsoft Game Studios

The Halo game that no one saw coming, no one wanted and to this day, the worst selling game in the series ( though it did sell over 1 million, so it's not all bad), I remember fully expecting this game to be a mediocre cash in, however, when I got the game I was pleasantly surprised by the gameplay.

The game takes place roughly 20 years before the events of the first Halo game and places you in control of the UNSC Spirit of Fire and its crew as you battle Covenant forces in various Earth colonies and even some uncharted regions of space.

The story is mostly told by CGI cutscenes that occur between each level, these look absolutely stunning, rivaling that of Square-Enix, Blizzard or even Hollywood studios, unfortunately, as pretty as they look, the story is completely forgettable, I couldn't care less about any of the underdeveloped characters' fates with the exception of Serena, your ship's AI and even then I only mildly cared about her.

The gameplay is pretty simplified when compared to PC RTS games, there are fixed based positions, it uses a rock-paper-scissors combat system resources and gathered automatically, this makes for a very fast paced game that when coupled with the game's colorful and detailed graphics it really makes you feel like you're playing a Halo game, hell, it even sounds like a halo game, I love hearing the grunts' dialog when they're in combat, even the new units feel very Halo-y.

With that said, I don't really like how you can't play as the Covenant during the campaign or the fact that you can't play as the flood, period. The Multiplayer is extremely fun even if its limited to a maximum of 6 players per map, the battle are fun, engaging and chaotic, but there's not too many modes or maps and there are some balancing issues, the Arbitor for example is pretty underpowered, to the point where hardly anyone uses him, there also some framerate issues in this mode, nothing too severe, but they're there.

I've heard many people bash the game for its over-simplicity, I've even heard someone say that Halo Wars is to strategy games as kart games are to racing simulators, which is not an unfair assessment, but honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if Halo Wars was the Mario Kart of RTS games,

Trivia: Did you know Bungie hated Halo Wars? They thought the game was 'whoring out' the franchise. I'm glad the game got made as I really like it, but still... ouch!

- Looks, feels and sounds like a Halo game
- Control Scheme works remarkably well with a controller
- Cutscenes look amazing
- Fast pace and automatic resource gathering makes the game very exciting
- Multiplayer is incredibly fun

- Covenant not playable in the campaign mode, Flood not playable at all
- Story isn't all that great
- Needs more maps and multiplayer modes
- Minor framerate and balancing issues during multiplayer

Final Grade: B+

Just looking at it, the collector's edition of Halo Wars seems pretty awesome with its steelbook, but it's actually pretty light on content.

It features a steelcase with two great covers, one featuring the human forces led by Spartans and the other featuring the Covenant, the manual is one of the best I've seen for an Xbox 360 game it's made to look like a field manual, but unlike ODST's sterile look this one is big, personalized with scribbled notes and features a gives you information on every unit and building in the game, but enough of the regular stuff, let's discuss the CE's exclusive items.

Bundled with the 48 hour trial are two extra codes, one for Halo 3 maps which are already included in the ODST disc and another that decals the Wraith tanks, these are one time use only codes, so if you're buying your CE used, beware.

The game also comes with a comic book named Halo Wars: Genesis, personally I thought the comic was short and wasn't all that special, though I liked the part where Dr. Anders had to do her research in some pretty terrible conditions while in the Spirit of fire, but that's about it.

Finally, you also get an emblem patch in case you want to sow it to a jacket or something and six cards with short biographies of every faction's leaders... I really don't know what to say or do with these, for me they're just there, not what I would call CE material.

Honestly, the steelcase, front artwork and the manual are three best aspects of this CE, problem is, two of them are already included in the normal edition, this one is definitely not worth the extra cash.

Collector's Edition Packaging Grade: D

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