Halo Wars Not Dead Yet Page: 1
Halo Wars Not Dead Yet
Remember that Halo RTS game thing?  Afraid it had become vaporware?  Then be at ease!  Gaming magazine GamePro has gotten the inside scoop from developer Ensemble Studios and has published a 10-page long article in their July magazine.  Halo Wars fansite Halo Wars Addict put up scans of the article, but they got taken down for obvious reasons.  Thankfully, the people of the Internet foresaw this action and a number of sites archived them.  So now we are able to bring them to you here!
 (Note that the text of page 5 is continued on page 9)
For those who don't want to go through the entire 10 pages, here's a brief summary:
Halo Wars will be set 20 years before the first Halo game, following the travels of the UNSC ship, the Spirit of Fire, and their first encounters with the vicious covenant.
"At this point in history, the Covenant is at its most evil," lead writer Graeme Devine says. "They are hell-bent on the destruction of humanity, on scouring us from the universe."
Worlds not explored in Halo series will be seen, such as the desolate Harvest and the tropical Arcadia.
Now obviously one of the greatest concerns is the general gameplay of Halo Wars. Usually when you think of a RTS game, you see a "complicated" user interface, fairly long build-up times, and complex economies, all of which I think the average Xbox user would be loathe to see.  Ensemble Studios went to great lengths in order to avoid such issues.
One of the first things tweaked from a typical RTS was the economy system.  Instead of having a number of different resources to deal with, Ensemble lumped it all into one, simply called Supplies.  This allows players to focus more on the control of their units rather than making sure they have enough of each and every resource.
Next up was the game's pace.  In games such as Blizzard's Starcraft, it could take players 5 minutes to set-up a basic bare base, and upwards of half an hour to build up a true fighting force.  Not so with Halo Wars. Players will begin with a lone Warthog that can be used to pick up supply crates from various points on the map, allowing users to start pumping out forces within seconds of the round start.
"In early versions of the game, it took 10 minutes to prepare to fight," designer Dave Pottinger explains. "Now we've got that down to about 10 seconds."
While the Covenant's forces were already fleshed out quite nicely from the original games with the Grunts, Jackals, Elites, Hunters, Ghosts, Banshees, and Scarabs, the UNSC's were a bit sparse.  Thus, Ensemble added a number of units to help complement the Marines, Warthogs, Spartans, Scorpions, Elephants, and Hornets.  These units are the anti-air missile-bearing Wolverine, the anti-vehicle plus artillery Cobra, flamethrower-equipped Marines, the powered mechsuit Cyclops, and beastly Vulture gunship.
Since most units have more than one ability, Ensemble have made use of a primary and secondary attack button.  For example, with Marines the primary attack is simply making use of their normal weapons while the secondary attack has them toss out a volley of grenades.
Now what's a Halo game without the Spartans? Since Halo Wars is set 20 years before the first Halo game, the Spartan program is still in its infancy, so don't expect them to be as advanced as good ol' Master Chief (hell, he's still in training. Cameo?). For example, your Spartan warriors won't have shields, though will be able to recover health over time. Still, books on the Halo saga had three 1st-generation Spartans taking on thousands of Convenant forces. Obviously we won't be seeing such situations.  Ensemble is working hard to make sure these iconic warriors are a powerful, but balanced, force to be reckoned with.
The guys at GamePro were allowed a hand-on gaming session with an early version of the game.  They found the controls to be very simple and the gameplay to be a fast-paced set of skirmishes.
Halo Wars will feature a 6-player multiplayer over Xbox Live, as well as an online 2-player co-op mode. PC users hoping to get their hands on this Halo RTS are out of luck, as Halo Wars will be console exclusive.
While no concrete release date was given, Ensemble is hoping to have it out late this year.
Will Ensemble Studios pioneer the console RTS genre? Will Halo Wars live up to its given name?
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