February 1, 2009

Halo Wars Demo

There have been many titles in the past that have eclipsed just being a “game” and have become cultural symbols that many can relate to. Super Mario, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Sonic the Hedgehog and Link are all characters who have reached the Hall of Fame in the echelons of video games. The Halo franchise is just as beloved and boasts millions of fans for all three instalments of the popular game series. This year will feature a Real Time Strategy (RTS) addition to the franchise by the name of Halo Wars. Ensemble Studios, the developers of the popular Age of Empires series have taken the Halo universe and produced what I hope to be a great title.

Some of you may be wondering why I am writing about Halo Wars, a title which is obviously not family focused. First and foremost our goal is to keep our articles geared towards the family, but, there are titles such as this one which we feel deserve to be discussed so that parents will know what this must have title their children are begging for is all about. With that in mind we will try to inform our readers about the content of the game and if we feel that it is a suitable title for mature children, or a title that is strictly for gamer parents.

Halo Wars is by far one of the most anticipated titles I have eagerly been waiting to play this year and find myself very lucky being able to play the Halo Wars Demo a week before it is released to Xbox Live members. The Halo Wars demo will be released on February 5th, 2009 and you should be prepared for a bit of a wait when you are downloading the sizeable demo.

Being a gamer who mainly plays his RTS games on the PC I have always been sceptical of this genre playing well on console systems. The controls have been the major setback in console attempts and in the past they are what have turned me back to playing my tried and true favourites on my PC. Halo Wars in this respect has done a wonderful job on their straightforward control scheme making the game easy to pick up and play without getting frustrated with the controls.

The demo features the basic tutorial level, two levels from the campaign and one skirmish level to give you a taste of the full version and what it has to offer. The tutorial level is simplistic, but, it will give you an excellent and brief overview of the controls. If you like you can skip the tutorial and jump right into the campaign to get a little bit more advanced gameplay, and enjoy a bit of the story told through Halo Wars.

The game features a variety of troops and vehicles that Halo fans will be familiar with from Marines, Warthogs, Spartans, Scorpion Tanks, and the Elephant. There are also some new troops and vehicles to the Halo universe that are welcome additions such as Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODST), Wolverines, Cobras, Sparrowhawks and Vultures. Halo Wars takes Halo to the next level allowing you to control multiple vehicles and troops to complete your objective.

Halo Wars is a military strategy game which includes objectives that involve the destruction of troops, vehicles and command bases. Overall there is limited amount of graphical violence during gameplay consisting primarily of aerial views of the destruction and the battles you control. However, the violence does become a bit more graphic in the cut scenes. This game is rated Teen (please see ESRB rating system) and I whole heartily agree with the rating of this game. However, I would suggest you only allow your mature or older teens to play this game. I really enjoyed the demo and anxiously await the release of the full version. However, you don’t have to wait long to play the demo and pass judgement on Halo Wars yourself. Be prepared for a new fight in the Halo universe on February 5th, 2009 for the demo and on March 3rd, 2009 for the North American retail release.

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