Gaming 315

Published on March 3rd, 2009 | by Greg


RTS Games: 360 and PC Rule Strategy with Halo and Dawn of War II

There have been other attempts at taking real-time strategy and putting it on the consoles. And for each that has done well, a few more have failed, either dumbing down the concept too much or using an awkward control scheme.

So, taking one of the biggest and best franchises on any system and making it into a strategy game was risky, but Halo Wars mostly pulls it off. PC gamers might not be enthralled- it’s still a console experience, and similar to the changes made to, say, Civilization Revolution in it’s move from PC to consoles. But strategy fans, and any Halo fan who can enjoy something besides a shooter, can find plenty to appreciate.

Halo Wars is fun, engaging, looks great, and offers a bucket full of features like co-op and multiplayer to complement the usual campaign mode. The story is compelling, the cutscenes appropriately epic, the sounds and music pretty fantastic. Ultimately though it feels a bit shallow for veteran strategy fans, with pretty basic rock-paper-scissor unit combat and no real difference between the two sides. You can’t play as the Flood, and you can’t find much to research or tech up. There are plenty of little additions to explore in the campaign mode though, and three “leaders” that change gameplay, meaning that it’s time for us to go upgrade the Magnetic Accelerator Cannon and kill some bugs. 360 exclusive title, $60.

Or we could fire up our PCs and play the latest game from Relic, makers of Homeworld and Company of Heroes- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II. Those excited by the Warhammer license should, like the Halo fans above, already own the title. For those not convinced by the world, what about the fact that this is a cutting-edge blend of everything great about RTS and RPG games. Fast pace, with plenty of depth, a campaign with plenty to see and do, four wildly different factions to chose from, and co-op and multiplayer options galore… it’s hard to fault any part of the game here.

We’ll try though! The small scale of the battles makes us long a bit for Supreme Commander or something similar. And the drastic changes in base building and unit types make the learning curve pretty steep. The music and voicework aren’t completely compelling, and the campaign overview map could use a broader focus- it felt like a really, really cut down version of Spore. The game will force you to use Steam, and there are plenty of things to dislike about that.

Ultimately though, these things are relatively nitpicky- the sheer addictive fun of the game overwhelms minor issues. PC only, $60, system requirements are steep but not as steep as, say, Empire at War.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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