Published on February 20th, 2017 | by Zorbz
REVIEW: Halo Wars 2
Summary: Halo wars is finally back, and for newbies who never played the original, this ain’t your typical Halo first person shooter. Halo wars 2 like its predecessor is actually an RTS game, much in the vein of command and conquer and age of empires, which is definitely not a genre for everyone…or is it?
Concept: The story of Halo wars 2 is very sci-fi heavy as you would come to expect from the franchise and they sure as hell don’t hold back dropping names, places, factions and the like from Halo lore, so if you aren’t up to scratch on your Halo knowledge then expect the story to be very confusing. To help mitigate this, you are treated to some of the absolute best CGI cinematics that I’ve ever seen, which make all the mumbo jumbo talk take a backseat to the visual delight.
Graphics: Aside from the outstanding CGI scenes, Halo Wars 2 is definitely visually pleasing. Now they won’t blow you away by any stretch of the imagination and honestly I feel like they could have been pulled off on last gens hardware, but the landscapes and scenery are definitely eye candy as they are so vibrant and colourful, which seems odd considering you’re part of a waging war. No complaints here though as I much prefer this to the grey and drab backdrops of more traditional warfaring games. Everything runs smoothly with no noticeable screen-tears or framerate dips which is perfect for a game of this genre.
Gameplay: Now RTS games are normally best served on a PC as controlling a lot of units and maneuvering back and forth over the battlefield is a lot easier with the use of a mouse, however Halo Wars 2, just like its predecessor, has managed to find a decent solution to making this all manageable on a controller. In saying that though this game does have the popular Microsoft ‘Play Anywhere’ feature so if you have a capable PC I would recommend playing on that. If you don’t have a PC, never fear as the tutorials are simple and effective and make the controls go from confusing to manageable. Now the real challenge though is that this game on harder difficulties needs to be played strategically, but this will require absolute mastery over the controls as battles become a sort of Rock, paper, scissors match where certain units are strong against one type but weak against another. In easier difficulties you’re able to just send all your units at once to crush your enemies, but on legendary…FORGET ABOUT IT!
Missions in campaign mode are fun and spice it up a bit from your typical ‘build base…attack!’. Variety comes in the form of scouting missions where you send specific troops in to scour the road ahead picking off targets one by one, whilst others require you to defend a base being attacked from all angles by enemy troops. I do however love the more traditional missions of building up your base and resources, leveling up troops and building a mass army to send forth and wreak havoc. This, when combined with some awesome leader abilities like sending in airstrikes and having ODST troop deployments to help in the heat of battle, manage to spice things up just enough to keep things feeling fresh.
‘All the colours‘
Multiplayer: Multiplayer is the main focus for Halo Wars 2 and it sports a new multiplayer mode called ‘Blitz’. In Blitz players have to capture bases to earn points, to earn said points you need to have captured more bases then the opponent, with the winner being the first to score 200. You are given cards at the start of the match with different effects, whether it’s to summon specific troops or to call in a strike etc. which serve as a replacement to base building. These cards can be obtained doing different things throughout the game and although you can unlock an amazing deck to go forth into battle with, the cards are chosen at random, so quite often this replaces strategy and makes matches heavily rely on luck of the draw, which can be quite frustrating.
So in my opinion I prefer sticking to online skirmishes which are your tried and true RTS formula of base, building, resource management and full on onslaught.
Sound: No complaints in the sound department as the battles sound great with heavy gunfire, big explosions, warthogs and aircraft zipping across the battlefield, troops jabbering on, lasers and turrets firing, exactly what you’d expect from a big battle. The voice acting, especially in the cut-scenes is really well done and nothing is too over the top or cheesy. I particularly like the voice of the villains Decimus and Atriox who have very brooding, deep and guttural voices, clearly not of this earth. I did find it quite amusing that each unit type seems to have a different accent and I swear the snipers are Australian.
‘Blitzing it up‘
Awesomeness: Honestly the only thing that comes to mind is the fact that you can play both campaign and online matches in co-op. I found this to be quite entertaining, but with that aside, nothing new really strikes me or sets Halo Wars 2 apart from the pack. The campaign took me roughly 6 hours to complete and had one of the most lackluster endings ever. The multiplayer gets old fast when blitz matches are more luck then skill based and the lack of freedom for base building and perimeter defenses in online skirmishes just makes these become too much of the same over time as well.
Final Word: Did I have a good time playing Halo Wars 2? Yes. Would I go back and continue to keep playing this? No. This is the unfortunate truth for me because as much as I enjoyed my time with the game, there isn’t enough to keep me coming back. Here’s hoping they have some much needed great DLC coming out to rope me back in, otherwise this was just a typical weekend fun adventure, only to go back on the shelf.
Score out of 5 bugs