By Dan Zuccarelli . July 12, 2007 . 6:17am
Up until now we've only see a pre-rendered trailer for the upcoming Halo Wars, a real-time strategy game set in the Halo universe. But finally at this E3 I got to check out some live demo game play. So after all the waiting how did it look?
You can relax, not only does the game look fantastic it looks like it's going to play that way as well. C & C 3 recently showed that you can sorta do RTS games on a console but it looks like the guys from Ensemble Studios may have nailed it. To drive this point home I was told the first six months of the two and a half years of development (thus far) were spent purely on the controls for the game.
The simple process of selecting and moving units is a two button combo, one to select and one to direct (what to shoot, where to go, etc). You'll have 3 different ways to select units that all use the same button. You'll be able to click once and select a single unit, tap a unit twice to select all similar units on the screen, or hold down the button for a paintbrush like effect where you move the cursor around the screen selecting units by "brushing" over them.
During the demo all three were used in combat situations with whatever worked best in that particular situation. Whether it was selecting a squad of space marines or a single Warthog. Speaking of Warthogs…
It's practically a zoo out there now with a bunch of space marine vehicles that take on standard RTS roles. We have Wolverines which are surface-to-air armor units perfect for taking our swooping Banshees. Scorpions are heavy armor tanks, and Hawks were a new plane that looked a lot like an A-10 tank killer (albeit more futuristic).
During the demo we saw plenty of RTS classic game play moments, like infantry weak against gun fire, and tank strong against basic infantry. Though at one point the Warthogs jumped a canyon that other units couldn't and that looked really sweet. It looked to be pretty standard RTS stuff with a fantastic looking Halo skin wrapped around it. Not to say that's a bad thing, but if you don't dig real-time strategy games this one probably isn't going to change your mind on the issue. There's going to be a resource system though I wasn't able to get any detail into how it's collected/spent/stored.
The game takes place twenty years before the events of the first Halo, right at the beginning of the war. All the little cues that integrate it into the Halo universe are there, like the movement of the Warthog or the sound of the weaponry. They all resonated as spot-on and very faithful to the source material. You can tell this one was put together by some pretty devout Halo fans.
We'd almost have to assume that the Covenant will be a playable side but we couldn't get confirmation on that, or the number of units we'd be seeing in the game. The Covenant have to be a playable army don't they? Whoever heard of a RTS game with one army?