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Halo Wars 2 Xbox One Review

February 28, 2017

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Halo Wars 2 Xbox One Review - Reviewed by Kidzworld on Feb 28, 2017
( Rating: 3 Star Rating)

Halos dip into the world of Real Time Strategy returns to PC and Xbox One. Take a listen to our thoughts adn reivew on Halo Wars 2 at Kidzworld.

By: Max Cannon

Halo Wars 2 is a smart move from Microsoft. Halo is a beloved franchise, with a deep lore, that could benefit from taking a modern Star Wars-esque approach. In addition to the main games sticking to the tried-and-true formula that made Halo great, there is a ton of potential for spinoff stories and new styles of gameplay. 

Halo Wars deviated more than any other game bearing the Halo name ever has and Halo Wars 2 continues the RTS gameplay of the original game. As dated as some bits of it feel, it's exciting to play Halo in a way we're not used to.

The banished Brute, Atriox, poses a real threat in Halo Wars 2.The banished Brute, Atriox, poses a real threat in Halo Wars 2.

It's Not Just The Gameplay That Feels New

Halo Wars 2 starts with the crew of the original game waking up from cryosleep, aboard the ship Spirit of Fire; opening 28 years after the original Halo Wars and just a smidge after the most recent game, Halo 5: Guardians. The crew lands aboard The Ark, a massive flower-shaped, planet sized structure where Halos are made. A small trio of Spartans, the group of soldiers made famous amongst gamers by Master Chief, land aboard the planet and fight against a strong Brute who is banished from his tribe. Finding an artificial intelligence named Isabel, 2 of the Spartans make it off the planet to share the new threat with their leaders and plan defeating the Brute rebellion.

Oh my are the cutscenes gorgeous. Blur Studio returns to make those cutscenes really pop. If you don't think you know who Blur Studio is... you may be wrong. They've made trailers for Far Cry 3, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Assassin's Creed and of course Halo. If you played through Halo: The Master Chief Collection, you'll have noticed the beautiful cutscenes by Blur Studio on Halo 2, well they're back at the helm on Halo Wars 2 and it was probably my favorite aspect of the entire game. The story was consistently interesting both visually and in terms of plot. Characters are interesting which is a huge boost to an RTS that focuses on controller nameless characters. Any bit of the game I played was just an obstacle between me and more of those awesome cutscenes.

Blur Studio's cinematics are second to none.Blur Studio's cinematics are second to none.Courtesy of GameSpot

Please, Microsoft, let Blur Studio make a Halo movie. 

An RTS on a Console

Halo Wars 2 is one of the only RTS games, A.K.A Real Time Strategy, to hit consoles but there is a good reason for this. RTS games are ideally played with a mouse over a controller due all the scrolling, dragging, and clicking you'll be doing. The game is far from unplayable on Xbox One but I was definitely wishing I had a mouse in my hands, especially when scrolling long distances over the map. The game is far from ugly, but aside from the inclusion of Halo staples like Spartans and Warthogs, the world feels bland. The same thing can be said for the gameplay, it's pretty by-the-numbers gameplay. Send groups of soldiers to attack other groups of soldiers and take down their bases.

Everything has a Rock, Paper, Scissors approach in a battle. A soldier is weak to a tank but strong against an airborne vehicle, the tank is strong against soldiers but weak against an airborne vehicle, etc. This adds a dynamic that isn't new to most RTS games but here it's a little too shallow. Playing Halo Wars 2 is mostly about building bases and stocking up your two resources to strengthen your team more than your opponent's. Blitz mode was a fun divergence because it was even more streamlined, rather than worrying about bases and resources, it's a straight up fight against your enemy. These battles were short and more intense than the main game and very welcome. Multiplayer would've been fun if I wasn't always losing, but hey that's most RTS games in my hands.

Seeing familiar Halo staples gives a sense of charm to Halo Wars 2.Seeing familiar Halo staples gives a sense of charm to Halo Wars 2.Courtesy of Xbox

Final Thoughts

The campaign took about 8 hours and that killer story hooked me more than the gameplay. Maybe it's because of how I'm conditioned to play console games but this RTS didn't grab me like other games in the genre have. Cutscenes and story are interesting to watch and reaffirm Blur Studio's talent as storytellers. Now if the developer, Creative Assembly, could put that same heart into the gameplay we would have something great on our hands. I love the direction of a change to the Halo formula but this genre has some growing pains when stretching its legs on console.

Pros:

  • Pretty Cutscenes
  • A Different Perspective on Halo

Cons:

  • Average RTS Gameplay
  • Console Controls

Halo Wars 2 Xbox One Game Rating:3

Halo Wars 2 Box ArtHalo Wars 2 Box ArtCourtesy of Xbox

Available Now on Xbox One and PC.

Have Your Say!

Are you a Halo player? What about an RTS fan? Comment below!