Halo Wars 2 hands-on preview – real-time action
Real-time strategy returns to consoles, with the makers of Total War offering up an exciting range of campaign and multiplayer action.
According to Halo overseers 343 Industries, a sequel to Halo Wars is their most requested Halo game ever. We find that hard to believe though, considering we’ve never met anyone who had any particularly strong feelings about the original. Because despite its innovations in making real-time strategy controls work on a console the game itself was rather dry and uninteresting. Released way back in 2009, the original was by the now defunct Ensemble Studios – creators of Age Of Empires. This new game though is by Creative Assembly, creators of Total War. And it’s a lot more fun.
It may seem hard to believe now, but back in the late ‘90s and early 2000s real-time strategy (RTS) games were amongst the most popular style of game on the PC. But the genre never found a way to evolve beyond the template laid down by Command & Conquer and Starcraft, and today the genre is all but dead. And because the gameplay was designed with a keyboard and mouse in mind, and benefited from a high resolution display, it never worked well on a console. Although the first Halo Wars was key in proving that a joypad alone was fine if you put enough thought into the design.
We were big fans of the genre back in its heyday, but so rarely do we get to play the games nowadays that when we are confronted by a new one (such as Sega’s Warhammer 40,000: Dawn Of War III) we find our skills to be embarrassingly rusty. But thankfully Halo Wars 2 is extremely easy to pick up, and the controls are both intuitive and impressively nuanced.