Halo Wars gets creatively reass embled
The Total War team are revamping an Xbox 360 classic
Sometimes the planets of the games industry’s solar system align so perfectly, you can almost hear atoms screeching under the strain. Creative Assembly signing on to develop a sequel to Ensemble’s Halo Wars is one of these occasions.
New to Halo Wars? It’s one of the few genuinely playable real-time strategy games on console, a cunning alloy of Ensemble’s Age of Empires series and the unit relationships of the numbered Halo games. CA, of course, is the developer of the Total War series – the armchair tactician’s Call of Duty – and Alien: Isolation, a game that demonstrates both a mastery of Xbox One’s innards and a talent for squeezing genius out of externally-owned property. Stir all this together, and you’ve got the basis for the finest exercise in living room generalling since Alexander the Great had Napoleon Bonaparte over for a round of Twister.
CA has said that HW2 won’t be a reskinned Total War – it’ll be “Halo Wars taken to the next stage”. What this amounts to remains to be seen, but it strikes the right note. Total War’s micromanagement would be a nightmare on a pad, and Ensemble’s take on the console RTS has yet to be eclipsed. The crew of the Spirit of Fire return in This Brute looks new though.
It’s not just a question of smart controls, with group select commands on the shoulder buttons, and a cursor you can expand by holding a face button. Halo Wars also slims down the conventions of base-building – you still get to choose between research and unit production facilities, but everything slots into a preset base template, so there’s no need to worry about niceties of placement. If CA can improve on that formula – perhaps in the form of a proper Covenant campaign – it’ll have a classic on its hands.
// Ensemble’s take on console strategy has yet to be eclipsed//