Join our Discord to chat with fellow friendly gamers and our knowledgeable contributors!


User Reviews

It is a good game. But it could be better Kyle Wolfe (4) 4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars

Our Users Say

Category Description User Score
Acting The quality of the voice or video acting. 3.4
AI The quality of the game's intelligence, usually for the behavior of opponents. 3.0
Gameplay How well the game mechanics work and the game plays. 3.1
Graphics The visual quality of the game 3.5
Personal Slant A personal rating of the game, regardless of other attributes 3.0
Sound / Music The quality of the sound effects and/or music composition 3.5
Story / Presentation The main creative ideas in the game and how well they are executed. This rating is used for every game except compilations and special editions which don't have unique game content not available in a standalone game or DLC. 3.1
Overall User Score (15 votes) 3.2

Critic Reviews

MobyRanks are listed below. You can read here for more information about MobyRank.
Game Shark (Feb 24, 2009)
The difference between Halo Wars and a more traditional PC RTS is distinct. Yes, the controls aren’t as precise nor is there a great diversity of units, structures, or resources - but that's the point. By approaching the game as fundamentally different, the resulting design feels native to the console controller. In the end Halo Wars just plain works, and is a huge step in the development of real time strategy gaming on the consoles.
AceGamez (Mar, 2009)
I anguished over my scoring of the game because I'm sure that some people will think I'm being too generous - but as much as I tried, I could see no reason not to give it a ten. Halo Wars has it all; a varied campaign with a co-op mode, an engaging storyline and terrific cut scenes, a huge range of unit types with multiple upgrades, varied special abilities, a clever but simple base and resource management system, robust online skirmishes for up to six players, a sublime control system and totally authentic presentation that is so lovingly crafted in every respect that it simply couldn't be any better - there's just nothing here to criticise! Halo Wars is an absolute triumph, every bit as well designed and beautifully implemented as the Halo trilogy; the only real downside is that it's so addictive that you'll find it hard to tear yourself away. Finished the fight? Time to start another one!
Halo Wars is such a good RTS because it does so many things right. It nails the Halo look and feel through its cut scenes, environments, units and even that distinctively saturated Halo colour pallet. Units are very well balanced with no one unit being overpowered. In multiplayer and skirmish matches, the human player's ability to quickly build and rush with infantry and warthogs is countered by the Covenant player's ability to shield their base and unleash their powerful hero unit. Given that the game now ships with new Xbox 360 consoles and that downloadable content is bound to be in the pipeline, Halo Wars looks set to rule the console RTS roost for some time to come. If Ensemble Studios were aiming for one last game to reinforce their place as a heavyweight developer in the RTS genre, then Halo Wars is a fitting swansong. Thank you Ensemble Studios, you will be missed.
Gaming Age (Mar 12, 2009)
All together, I definitely enjoyed Halo Wars, and look forward to playing around online quite a bit more. The campaign mode is really fun, and does a great job of getting the player primed for different scenarios in multiplayer, while at the same time delivering a pretty engaging chapter into the Halo universe. The music borrows a lot of cues from the main series, along with some familiar sound FX, but there's a little bit of original stuff offered up that's also really well done. It's a shame to see that Ensemble had to close their doors after this, because it's really the best attempt I've seen at bringing over a solid RTS experience on consoles, and I hope it's a game that other RTS fans (and even non-fans) will give a try, because it's definitely worth picking up.
GamesCollection (Mar 24, 2009)
Ensemble Studios sono riusciti in una missione non affatto semplice, ossia quella di prendere tutta la meccanica e l'essenza degli RTS su PC e di ricchiuderla in un Pad a 8 tasti, senza fronzoli. Per di più, lo schiaffo arriva quando di questi 8 praticamente ne usi più del tempo due-quattro al massimo. Apparte questo lato, sicuramente da applauso, Halo Wars è semplice, intuitivo, divertente e altamente appagante: la storia è all'altezza della serie, i video sono a dir poco meravigliosi e il sonoro rende giustizia appieno all'epicità della causa. Chi adora gli RTS potrebbe storcere il naso dalla semplicità adottata, ma proprio per questo si troverà in un battibaleno a completare missioni senza rendersene effettivamente conto; chi invece non adora questo genere dovrebbe provare almeno una-due missioni (c'è anche la Demo sul live, a proposito) per rimanere incantati da un solido gameplay ricco di divertimento.
GameSpy (Feb 20, 2009)
Halo Wars is exactly what the developers at Ensemble intended it to be: an action-oriented RTS built around console sensibilities without consideration as to whether any of it would work on a PC. This is how it should be and ultimately redounds to the benefit of both the game and the genre. It's not something that would necessarily pull the hardcore PC RTS fan to a 360 (though they might be surprised at how much fun they'll have) but it might introduce a generation of Halo fans and console gamers to a genre they've never considered before. If there's a better swan song for a game studio than creating an important console title in the Halo universe, I'm at a loss to think of it.
GameZone (Feb 20, 2009)
While PC gamers and hardcore RTS enthusiasts probably won’t be able to see what all of the fuss around Halo Wars is about since their platform has put out much more groundbreaking RTS titles in the past few years, console gamers and Halo fans who have yet to experience a truly great RTS game on a console will now have their chance.
TeamXbox (Feb 20, 2009)
There are some other quibbles with the game. No Covenant campaign comes quickly to mind. Let’s hope they’re saving that for downloadable content. But really, nothing else to slam the game about. Halo Wars is undoubtedly fun; one just worries if it’s not enough for one group of gamers and too much for another. If you’re part of that middle ground like I believe I am, then you’ll love Halo Wars as much as I did.
Totally Gaming Network (Jun 15, 2009)
Overall this is a tremendous addition to the Halo universe. Another question that has been asked throughout the development of this title is whether the Halo fan base would like this game since it is not a first person shooter. I believe that Ensemble has done a tremendous job with this title and that those same people who enjoy the Halo shooters will also enjoy this title. If you have never played a real time strategy game before this would also be a good game to play to introduce yourself to the genre. There is quite a bit here for newcomers and veterans alike. You can hone your skills in the campaign and then once you are ready hit Xbox Live and challenge the world. With a Halo title comes a certain amount of expectations and Ensemble has hit all of them. This is the best real time strategy game to ever hit a console.
90 (Feb 20, 2009)
Like many of you, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Halo Wars. The concerns, doubts, and questions circled my gamer brain as it did yours. And while it's not the first-person shooter experience that Bungie has delivered all these years, it is a damn good RTS game. And who better to deliver the new experience than Ensemble Studios. Nearly everything about Halo Wars is well polished: campaign, co-op and multiplayer modes, hidden skulls, solid controls, refined matchmaking, superb voice talent, engaging cut-scenes and story, and everything else that you expect from the Halo brand. Halo Wars isn't perfect, but it's certainly great enough to ignore the minor flaws and enjoy an amazing experience from beginning to end and well beyond with online multiplayer. If you're a die-hard Halo or RTS fan, Halo Wars is a must own. For everybody else, I highly recommend, at the very least, a rental.
Gamernode (Mar 01, 2009)
This is a fantastic looking title. I've seen a wealth of RTS titles in my lifetime, and not once have I been this excited to see a unit from the other Halo titles simply to see how wonderfully rendered it has become in Halo Wars. The units are detailed enough not to look clunky and lazily rendered when you zoom in, and they have a variety of contextual animations, from Scarabs stalking over the flaming wreckage of a tank, to Elites ducking and weaving to avoid incoming fire. A must have for RTS fans, and a must have for those who enjoy the Halo universe.
MS Xbox World (Mar, 2009)
Ensemble have created something really special, they have managed to make a genre previously inaccessible to console audiences and turn it around into something that’s easy to play and heaps of fun. Halo Wars has flawless fluid controls, beautifully polished graphics, a interesting and immersive story, hectic online play with co-op and tons of replay value. As a whole package Halo Wars is something that is very hard to fault. If it wasn’t for the minor path finding issues and the occasional lag online I’d be scoring it a perfect 10. But never the less Halo Wars is a fantastic game that has to be experienced by all 360 owners, so head over to Xbox live and download the demo, then fall in love, go out, and buy the game. Ensemble have really gone out with a bang, what a great way to pay tribute to twelve years of service to gaming.
Extreme Gamer (Mar 09, 2009)
It would be hard to make a more perfect Halo RTS and it’s a shame that Ensemble won’t be able to continue this venture in the future. Halo Wars only has a few minor issues that are easily overlooked and expected. Halo Wars easily sweeps you up in the action even if you’re not a huge fan of real-time strategy titles. There is a lot to love here, and fans of Halo and all real-time strategy games should check out this amazing effort from Ensemble Studios as they replant their roots in the gaming community.
GameFocus (Mar 16, 2009)
For those of us who are fans of the Halo series this is a great game to play and have to further explore the rich Halo universe. But for those people looking for a deep strategy experience should look elsewhere because this Real Time Strategy title is not your standard RTS but more of an action game with some RTS elements added in for flavor. A must buy for anyone who likes action games, Halo and playing with their friends.
Gamer Limit (Mar 08, 2009)
Overall, Halo Wars is a solid offering for fans of Halo and RTS games alike. While it might not bare the strategic elegance of most modern day strategy titles, it’s still a ton of fun to play, and it does for console RTS games, what Halo: Combat Evolved did for console FPS games.
XboxAchievements (Feb 20, 2009)
Halo Wars brings with it huge feelings of joy and sadness; the joy that comes with a fantastic and hugely immersive title, and the sadness that follows the closure of an epic studio on a high. The action orientated RTS may be light on the RTS aspects in some areas but that by no means detracts away from the gameplay in the slightest. It just gives you a unique experience. Definitely a must purchase for Halo fans, action fans and those who are turned on by a good story.
Gamer 2.0 (Feb 20, 2009)
Overall, what you have a very well done effort by Ensemble Studios. They have taken a franchise that must be handled carefully, if only because of the fans, and successfully blended it with a completely different type of game. Just as a console RTS alone, the game succeeds. But having it make sense in the Halo universe makes the game work that much better. Things could have easily gone sour, but Ensemble has gone on their way on a very good note.
Planet Xbox 360 (Feb, 2009)
So what does this all boil down to? Well first off, it’s the best RTS on the Xbox 360. Though this isn’t stating much, any forthcoming RTS will undoubtedly have to compare to Halo Wars in the future. Ensemble Studios did their job in creating an accessible RTS that newcomers won’t have too much trouble playing thirty minute sessions. If there’s one facet of the game that should be taken away from the game, it would have to be the gorgeous cinematics Ensemble Studios has put together. Halo Wars is basically worth the purchase for the cinematic scenes alone.
Cheat Code Central (Feb, 2009)
Halo Wars is an interesting experiment that turned out to be a complete success. Microsoft and Ensemble proved that this type of game can be successful on consoles. However, I do not believe it is perfect, because I still would prefer to play it on a PC. Also, the campaign is too easy and lacking strategy, there are not enough maps for six players, and I think the developer should have made resource gathering more challenging. Halo fans have to remember that this is a very different Halo than what they are used to. If they are hardcore shooter fans, they may want to rent this game before buying it. Otherwise, I think this is a good game. If you enjoy the RTS genre, give your computer chair a break, buy the game, and enjoy your couch!
Games Finder (Jun 30, 2014)
Despite the Halo setting Halo Wars is not limited to Halo fans and should be picked up by any gamer wanting a strategy experience on their Xbox 360 console. There simply are not any better options (and very few alternatives) to this great Real-time strategy that was designed solely for console.
Click! (Mar 03, 2009)
Na tle innych konsolowych RTS-ów Halo Wars wypada znakomicie. Intuicyjne sterowanie pozwala opanować mechanikę w dosłownie kilkanaście sekund. Czyżbyśmy byli świadkami „przejęcia" kolejnego pecetowego gatunku przez konsole?
GameLemon (Apr 27, 2009)
All in all, Halo Wars is a very valiant effort to bring the fun and style of Real Time Strategy to the home consoles in a way that nearly anyone can enjoy. Halo fans will get a kick out of the timeline and seeing more than one Spartan in battle at a time, and RTS fans will relish the ability to kick the crap out of some Halo players for a change. It's not perfect by any stretch, but definitely worth a playthrough if you're in any way a fan of the series.
Good Game (Feb 23, 2009)
I think they did a great job with the limitations, it looks great, it plays great, and y’know, it is what it is. As far as console strategy games go, it’s one of the best. 8.5/10.
NZGamer (Feb 25, 2009)
In fact, Halo Wars is the most accessible traditional RTS game we've ever tested - it works, and works well. It's fun to play with varied maps, varied missions and is literally jam-packed with "Halo-ness". The sights, the sounds and the raw feel of the game is Halo to the core. If you're even slightly interested in RTS games and like Halo even a little bit, you should check this out. If you want to see a proper RTS game done well on a console, Halo Wars is every bit worth checking out. If you happen to love RTS games and Halo, well, why did you even read this far? Halo Wars is what you'd expect when you entrust the masters at Ensemble (never forget) with making an RTS game set in Bungie's epic. It's rock solid.
85 (Feb, 2009)
As the stuido's last outing, Ensemble has made two things clear: Halo games can move past first-person shooters and still deliver excitement; and real-time strategy games can be executed well on the console format. Sure, we argue that the game may be a bit of a watered-down version of the PC-centric genre with some shortcomings, but with satisfying action, streamlined controls, and a non-Master Chief story that still holds your attention (done in cutscenes that are worthy of their own feature), Halo Wars makes for a strong introduction to both the RTS scene, and the UNSC-Covenant conflict.
ZTGameDomain (Mar, 2009)
Halo Wars is the best real time strategy on consoles right now and it can be a lot of fun, but the relative lack of depth for such a usually deep genre can get old after a while. If you don't have a PC equipped to run the newest high-end games then Halo Wars is a great option. Halo fans will also really enjoy the story and setup of the game but if you want heavy strategy and depth, Halo Wars is not as high on the list as some more intrinsically deep real time strategies.
85 (Mar 05, 2009)
Halo Wars is a RTS built from the ground up with the Xbox 360 console in mind, and it shows.The game is easy to pick up and play and scraps all of the things that make real time strategy games on consoles restrictive and awkward to play. If you want to take your first step into this type of game then there is not going to be an easier step than this.
Da Gameboyz (Mar, 2009)
Ensemble Studios has made two things very clear to the video game masses. The first being that Halo games can break out of the first-person shooter shell and still deliver excitement. Secondly, it also accomplishes something new; it is a well executed real-time strategy game on the console format. Halo Wars is definitely a bit of a watered-down version of the PC-centric genre with some shortcomings, but with satisfying action, streamlined controls, and a non-Master Chief story that still holds your attention it really is a great change. I also feel that the game’s replay value is outstanding. Real time strategist or not, if you are a Halo fan you owe it to yourself to play Halo Wars, it just may change the way you look at the series.
Deeko (Mar 24, 2009)
Despite being an RTS game made for a console, Halo Wars succeeds where most others have failed. While the game is missing just a few elements that could have really launched it onto another level, Ensemble Studios really poured their hearts and souls into this game and it's evident. The game is setup as a rock-paper-scissors format and there are still a few things that feel a bit unbalanced and could use an adjustment. The variety of missions, skirmish options, co-op, collectibles, and excellent achievements add to create a high level of re-playability. Halo Wars is not perfect, but it is a worthy addition to the Halo universe.
games xtreme (Apr 16, 2009)
Halo Wars provides a good entry level rts for novice players on console. It's fun and easy to get into. The single player is short but there's a lot of value in the package.
Gaming Target (Jul 15, 2009)
Halo Wars is the best real-time-strategy game that I’ve played on a console, period. Being developed from the ground-up as an Xbox 360 title helped the game to avoid the pitfalls of other RTS games that have jumped from PC to console and being attached to the Halo franchise ensured that it would reach a broad audience. While it doesn’t do much to push the genre forward, Halo Wars offers a solid campaign and a healthy dose of multiplayer content.
IGN (Feb 20, 2009)
Halo Wars deftly dodges between the hardcore micromanagement of real-time strategy and the instant gratification expected by Halo fans. Ensemble has nailed console RTS controls, but at the expense of some depth. The campaign missions often seem overly scripted and the experience doesn’t have the wide-open feel of some other RTSs. But the Halo feel is most definitely present, and serves as one of the game’s biggest strengths. The cinematic cutscenes are gorgeous, if the narrative is somewhat thin in places. Overall, Halo Wars is a fresh and expertly polished approach to the console strategy genre, and it’s a fitting goodbye from a beloved studio.
GameTrailers (Feb, 2009)
There’s fun to be had in Halo Wars. The campaign is interesting, there’s plenty of replay incentive and a strong multiplayer component. On the other hand, the campaign is short, the experience streamlined, and there’s only two factions for multiplayer. Newcomers to real-time strategy and Halo lovers will be able to get a great first taste. Genre vets, or anyone who’s played Starcraft, will be awash in déjà vu. It’s a great compromise, but a compromise nonetheless. It’s accessible, fun, and a mighty shuffle in the right direction, if a tad on the shallow side.
Atomic Gamer (Mar 06, 2009)
I don't know if this reads as a real recommendation or not, but I can say that I never felt completely at ease playing Halo Wars. It'd be so much easier to discount this game if it wasn't as good as it truly is, or if it had failed to recreate the look, sound, and overall attitude of Bungie's classic series from a top-down RTS perspective. It'd be easy to hate this game if there were no Spartans or if they just stood there and shot at stuff like a brainless Starcraft space marine. But it's much better than that, and yet I can't play it without immediately wanting to eject the disc and play the game this one was based on. And maybe that's Ensemble's biggest success here: that the interface and controls, usually the worst part of a console RTS game and the one that gets talked about the most in game reviews for this genre, were the farthest thing from my mind here after a few minutes of learning them. Now, it's time for me to go back to Halo 3 and start on a solo Legendary campaign.
XboxAddict (Mar 16, 2009)
Halo Wars is attempting to be a great console RTS and succeeds in that respect and should not be completely compared to other PC strategy games as the same depth is not there. This is not a fault to the game, as it’s done its job by bringing in new players to the genre and appeasing the Halo fans. Even without having the iconic Master Chief fronting the heroism, Halo Wars brings a great story along with matching gameplay that even players unfamiliar with the genre can learn and enjoy easily.
84 (Apr 03, 2009)
Halo Wars in other words is a classic RTS that was streamlined to welcome newcomers to the genre. The result of this is that the game is only just deep enough for those with experience in strategy games but this is made up with an excellent presentation, beautiful graphics and interesting units as well as the still appealing Halo setting. A bit for everyone I would say and I hope Microsoft will use this experience to deliver a deeper RTS experience with a sequel.
Daily Game (Mar 23, 2009)
Halo 3 is a shooter. Halo Wars is an RTS. They share a name, but that's it. Bungie's out of the picture, the genre's entirely different, and other than the music, character classes and Microsoft marketing budget, these are two entirely separate games. I've had several people tell me they wanted to get Halo Wars so their kid had a new Halo game to play. Wrong move. Halo Wars, as solid as it is from a gameplay perspective, is not an appropriate game for kids weaned on teabagging and fragfests. Instead, Halo Wars is like a gateway drug to a more-refined, more mature genre, a title that's a bit too strict and confining for hardcore RTS fans, but gentle enough to provide an entry into the genre for newbies and just deep enough on Xbox Live to get a few RTS junkies to crack a smile.
Game Over Online (Mar 19, 2009)
At the end of the day, thanks to its authenticity, accessibility, action-oriented gameplay and multiplayer suite, Halo Wars holds great appeal for Halo fans and newcomers to the RTS genre. Strategy purists, on the other hand, particularly those familiar with Ensemble Studios’ previous titles, I’m not so sure about. The simplicity of the experience might be a little off-putting for those of you. I can just see my fellow writer Phil Soletsky rolling his eyes if he ever got the chance to play this game. Having said that, Halo Wars is arguably the best real-time strategy entry on a console to date. With it we bid farewell to Ensemble Studios while welcoming in a new era of Halo games.
81 Gaming Portal (Jun 01, 2009)
Halo Wars je sve u svemu dobra igra, sa tek nekoliko dječjih bolesti i mušica, no ipak daleko je to od revolucionrane strategije za konzole kakvu smo očekivali ( bila su prevelika obećanja izdavača i razvojnog studija ). Ipak, ako ste ljubitelj žanra, a vlasnik ste Xbox 360 konzole, nemate baš previše izbora - nabavite si Halo Wars, dobro će vas zabaviti.
81 (Feb 20, 2009)
Although Halo Wars is certainly not the first attempt to streamline the RTS genre for console play, what Ensemble have achieved is nothing short of astonishing. It may not prove to be the finest example in presenting lasting appeal single-player certainly doesn't last all that long but ultimately, Halo Wars stands out as an RTS experience that works incredibly well while ticking all of the right boxes for the fans. There's plenty here for the Halo faithful to get their teeth into and enough broad appeal to convert even the most ardent strategy-hater. Whether you persevere enough to embrace everything Halo Wars has to offer really depends on how much you enjoy the universe and how much you're willing to accept the advent of a thoroughly console-centric RTS. Us? We think it's great, so you should too. It's Halo-mentary.
Impulse Gamer (Feb, 2009)
In conclusion, Halo Wars is a very impressive and sturdy RTS game on the XBox 360 and my only complaint being is handling your units during the last missions which does become sometimes tedious as you are trying to select the correct units and you end up selecting the incorrect ones. Needless to say, Ensemble have created a truly entertaining game with great maps, missions and hopefully in the future some downloadable content. Definitely a game for Halo fans who are interested in RTS.
81 (Mar 05, 2009)
Rent. Rent. Rent this game before you spend the 60 dollars or more on it. The game is not a must have or a blow you out of the water kind of game for everyone. Make sure you at least take the risk of renting the game for five or six bucks to make sure that you are okay paying the sixty bucks. If you are like me then you definitely regret spending the sixty dollars on this game to get what should have been the five days worth of excitement for six dollars.
GamingBolt (Sep 17, 2009)
Ensemble put a Halo timeline in the in the game that chronicles the time from a little before the story of Halo Wars to the brute takeover over the elites in Halo 2. Along with that there are things to collect in each mission along with skulls to obtain. Along with the aforementioned co-op which adds a ton of time, there is also the multiplayer which lasts a long time as well. Overall, Ensemble could not have had a much better swan song. Halo Wars is the premier console RTS and the one that other developers will use as a blueprint for many years to come.
80 (Mar 04, 2009)
Halo Wars wirkt wie ein Relikt vergangener Tage. Denn wo Massive, Relic oder Creative Assembly immer wieder versuchen, der Echtzeitstrategie neue Aspekte abzugewinnen, geben sich die Ensemble Studios mit einem sehr herkömmlichen Konzept zufrieden: Basisbau im kleinen Stil samt der Massenproduktion starker Einheiten - am besten nur von einem Typ, denn das spart Ressourcen und ist meist effektiv genug. Ausgefeiltes Taktieren ist mit der oberflächlichen Steuerung ohnehin schwierig; effektives Mikromanagement in der Hitze des Gefechts sogar praktisch unmöglich. Doch Halo Wars ist auch ein würdiges Denkmal an das Gute der alten Zeiten. Immerhin hat es mich trotz seiner Einschränkungen richtig gut unterhalten. Das liegt vor allem an den abwechslungsreichen Missionen, denn kein Schauplatz gleicht dem anderen, keine Herausforderung der vorherigen.
That Gaming Site (Feb 20, 2009)
Halo Wars is an achievement rather than a screw up. A worthy addition to the Halo franchise.
AusGamers (Mar 10, 2009)
Halo Wars is easily the most competent RTS to grace a console, and it is so because of elegant design. The ethos here was clearly on accessibility and working within the confines of the platform, and for that Ensemble really ought to be applauded. The game is a little short, and does leaving you wanting more (especially because this is Ensemble's last game), but it's satisfying, and the multiplayer and co-op components will keep you coming back. Pursists may find it difficult to swallow, but don't shun it until you've tried it – you never know, you might actually enjoy a simplified RTS experience from the comfort of your couch.
80 (UK) (Feb 20, 2009)
It's a console RTS that thinks the genre was fundamentally fine the way it was. It's happy with that classical design. All it's interested in is making that fly on the 360, and, on that level, you have to consider Halo Wars a genuine success. I can't think of any console RTS that has achieved that seemingly-simple objective as well as Ensemble's final flourish. As a developer that always seemed most interested in plain craftsmanship, it's a suitable capstone. As a return to one of the 360's most popular universe, it's about as good an RTS as a Halo fan could expect. And as a game, Halo Wars is a genuine pleasure.
80 (Feb 20, 2009)
Overall, Ensemble's greatest success is that it's managed to conjure up a console RTS that is fun and doesn't suffer from its controls. Indeed those ex-Ensemble staff who have now gone off to form new companies can be proud of Halo Wars, the studio's final game. By virtue of the control system it's the best console RTS available. There are problems of course - the campaign is a bit of a slog, the multiplayer lacks variety and PC RTS players will no doubt dismiss the game, saying it would have been better on the PC (there's a degree of truth to that) - but those issues don't prevent Halo Wars from being as good as RTS games get on console. It's the perfect opportunity for 360 owners who have never played an RTS before to see what all that geeky micro-management stuff is all about.
Thunderbolt Games (Feb 20, 2009)
Despite the lumbering campaign mode, Halo Wars is a brilliant addition to the series and, more importantly, to the RTS genre. Proving it takes more than a popular theme to make a console based strategy game work (Lord of the Rings, I’m looking at you), the accessibility and sheer scale of the title will leave many wanting to unveil the in-depth entertainment that’s on offer. For fans of the series, this will whet the appetite before ODST lands sometime this year. For everyone else, Ensemble Studios have not only delivered once again on the RTS formula, they have set a new standard for the console.
G4 TV: X-Play (Feb 20, 2009)
It will be very interesting to see what kind of reception Halo Wars receives, especially among hardcore Halo fans. It’s a decidedly different take on a massively popular franchise, but it’s one that ends up achieving what so many console RTSes have failed to by stripping away cumbersome control schemes and giving console players (and in this case Halo players) something that feels like it was made with them in mind. And while a lot of people will approach it with understandably dubious eyes, the game offers a lot of bang for your buck, and it’s an enjoyable ride. Now it’s just a matter of how many people are willing to take it.
GameDaily (Feb 20, 2009)
Although the final game feels polished and entertaining, Halo Wars suffers from a couple annoying issues, the first being the lack of a quick save. Spending upwards of 40 minutes on a mission, only to fail in the final seconds and restart from the beginning is a huge let down, while at times excessive micromanagement had us screaming; an irritating mission with tanks comes to mind. We also had trouble locating units in one of the early levels, no thanks to a series of overpasses that obscured our soldiers. These problems aside, Halo Wars is a blast to play. Its easy-to-learn controls, entertaining story and addictive combat had us squashing Covenant well past bedtime, and we applaud Microsoft for taking this series in such a bold new direction.
Video Games Daily (Feb 24, 2009)
As enjoyable as its first console project can be, we can't shake the feeling that the developer's best may have been yet to come. Cut down in its prime by the money-men, Ensemble leaves us with only an inkling of what it might have achieved a little further outside its PC RTS comfort zone: concept art for a Pixar-esque platformer, talk of a Diablo-in-space-style RPG, the skeleton of a Halo MMO. Rather than the pinnacle of a celebrated but sequestered history in one genre, Halo Wars could have been the first tentative footprint on virgin territory. Hopefully Robot Entertainment, the phoenix from Ensemble's ashes, will deliver on some of that promise. In the meantime, we suggest you honour this fallen giant with your wallets. An elegant, lustrous RTS which channels the Bungie spirit to great effect, but takes only a few, baby steps beyond the principles laid down in the developer's Age titles.
Gameplanet (Feb 26, 2009)
Ensemble Studios have done a good job of making the Halo Wars RTS accessible on an Xbox 360 controller. This is possibly to do with it being developed from the ground up on the console, but it also says something about the quality of their experience in RTS titles. Any Halo fan will be instantly familiar with the atmosphere, the units, and the sounds that the game provides. The downside is the lacklustre story and characters which really do little to inspire you to get into the game. But in our opinion, a solid RTS is predominantly made up of a solid game mechanic, and the success here helps to smooth out any hard feelings one may have surrounding the story. RTS fans will certainly enjoy Halo Wars, and there is enough here that even Halo fans may forgive Ensemble for the poor story.
Giant Bomb (Mar 02, 2009)
If you haven't heard, Halo Wars marks Ensemble's last project as a development studio. There's no doubting many of its longtime fans (and perhaps some of its employees) would have preferred to see the company go out by doing what it does best with a traditional real-time strategy game on the PC. Still, Halo Wars is a mostly successful effort to bring the strategy genre to the Xbox 360, and not a bad way to kick off a new era of Halo games, to boot.
ActionTrip (Mar 03, 2009)
With all the effort Ensemble invested into Halo Wars, the game still doesn't quite boast the kind of tactical depth and control smoothness we've all come to appreciate in PC real-time strategies. On the other hand, a lot of gamers won't be along for the ride just because they want to see a group of tiny Master Chiefs charge across the battlefield. Halo Wars is bound to ward off those looking for a new-fangled and exciting RTS experience. All the same, what you are going to find here is a solid and polished console strategy. Halo fans shouldn't pass up the opportunity to charge the battlefield with groups of valiant SPARTAN warriors, as they blast the ruthless Covenant into oblivion. Ringing true to earlier Halo games, the talented game designers introduced delicately animated units, familiar sound effects (Covenant laser fire, the sound of the shield on the SPARTAN's MJOLNIR armor as it recharges) and a great music.
UltraNinjas (Mar 05, 2009)
Overall I'd say this is a solid go at a strategy. One that even I have to admit plays better than I would've expected from an objective point of view. Trust me when I say I'm not converted by any means, but if a console's what you've got and strategy's your thing then this is well worth a play.
XboxZone (Australia) (Mar 13, 2009)
For an RTS game on the console environment Halo Wars had definitely made its mark. Being built for the 360, Halo Wars truly is a game that can be put alongside the great Halo franchise as it continues to build. With an excellent story line and being so tightly locked to the Halo timeline, Halo Wars is truly a game for both Halo fans and newcomers alike.
Gamestyle (Mar, 2009)
Halo Wars proves that an RTS can be done on a console, as long as it's built around the pad and not forced to fit it. There are a few minor niggles, such as the length of the campaign (6-8 hours on normal) and complete lack of a Covenant/Flood campaigns, but it's certainly a lot better than the cynics at Gamestyle Towers were expecting.
GamePlasma (Feb 26, 2009)
Halo Wars is an entertaining real time strategy that sets out on a mission to bring Halo players and RTS players together for the first time. It succeeds in certain ways while fails in others. Halo Wars does succeed in giving us a pretty decent real-time strategy that is actually of quality and relevance on the console market. Yes, PC gamers will whine that it isn’t on PC, but it doesn’t need to be. It was built specifically for the console market and needs to have its chance at life here. PC gamers can’t have everything and this is one of those things that should stay away from PC, at least for now. While, it’s unfortunate that Ensemble Studios is gone, it’s at least a shining example of what happens when you put in this kind of effort to a game that needs this kind of attention to be successful. Halo Wars, whether or not you think is worth the 60 bucks is still a high quality RTS that stands out above the rest.
As an RTS we can't help but feel that Microsoft's played it safe with its biggest franchise, not wanting to scare off any potential newcomers or fans with a detailed and complex RTS that commands hours of thought and dedication. But if any game can be forgiven for going down the proof of concept route before throwing out the rulebook and trying something spectacularly different, this is certainly one of them.
Gamervision (Mar 11, 2009)
It is probable that the version of Halo Wars that we currently have will be the last one; Ensemble Studios has gone out of business, so future DLC is highly unlikely. While the game would have benefited from some specific upgrades, the product as it stands is a good one. It may be too shallow for hardcore RTS fans, but for newcomers to an often overwhelmingly complex genre, it’s a great entry-level title. Microsoft may not have crafted the finest RTS of the year, much less the generation, but they set out to make a fully functional RTS that is optimized for consoles, and in that, they’ve succeeded.
Worth Playing (Mar 02, 2009)
Halo Wars is a fun, if unexceptional, real-time strategy title. The controls work well enough for what the game asks you to do, the gameplay is quick and easy to pick up, and most of the interface has been extremely streamlined to allow for quick and intense matches. It feels weird to phrase it as such, but Halo Wars is very a much a beer-and-pretzel RTS, the kind of game you pick up to play with friends, and in that regard, it has succeeded surprisingly well. Unfortunately, it lacks the depth and variation to make it stand out as an RTS, and potential repetition and balance problems could make the online play less fun than Halo was for new fans. Halo Wars didn't quite succeed at making an RTS that functions as well as a PC game, but it's an admirable effort, and it is certainly the closest that an RTS console game has come to success in recent memory.
Good Game (Feb 23, 2009)
PC users will say designing a good strategy game for a console is like. But it is fun. You’ll get a good 7 hours out of single player, and a good deal more if you take it online. Whether or not you like the controls, that’s up to you, you might wanna try it out first. 7.5/10.
1UP (Feb 20, 2009)
Halo Wars is a solid, if somewhat uninspired and simplistic, all-around RTS package with few faults. Ultimately, it's less a RTS game designed for a console (unlike, say, Tom Clancy's EndWar), and more a PC-style RTS that's been adapted and streamlined for the console. I wouldn't venture to say that it's either a great RTS game or a great Halo game, but it's a really solid beginning towards what could be a really good console RTS. I'm hoping that this good foundation is built upon with further downloadable content (maps, units, playable Flood faction, or, heck, a new Covenant campaign, please!) -- and maybe people who enjoy this game might be inspired to grab a legitimately awesome Ensemble game like Age of Mythology.
Game Revolution (Feb 20, 2009)
In the end though, while Halo Wars is a RTS that's been dumbed down exactly the right amount, it's still been dumbed down. While a good game, compared to some of the intricate tactics of its PC counterparts, it just feels rather thin, and with only two sides, battles always seem to follow familiar patterns.
Gameplayer (Australia) (Feb 23, 2009)
The now defunct Ensemble Studios has done a great job of recreating an early period of the Halo universe. But while hardcore fans will recognize and love the references to the early novels, everyone else may be underwhelmed with the lackluster story and characters on offer here. In terms of getting its strategy on, Halo Wars won’t wow the space boots off of Command and Conquer veterans, but it is a recommended purchase for anyone seeking to break out of their vicious first person shooter cycle.
GamingExcellence (Apr, 2009)
At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself: would Halo Wars be as good as it is, if it wasn’t for the Halo name? The answer is probably not. Though it has great controls and is user-friendly, it’s lack of depth and short campaign doesn’t warrant too much praise. However, the high production values that come along with the Halo name are what make Halo Wars above average, if just slightly. The campaign does have quite a bit of replay value with collectibles, several difficulty settings, and optional co-op, but the multiplayer won’t keep you occupied for quite as long. Even so, Halo Wars is fun while it lasts, and whether you are a RTS fan, a Halo fan, or both, you should check it out.
Blend Games (Feb 20, 2009)
Make no mistake, Halo Wars is a solid game. Ensemble has delivered a satisfying RTS title to consoles with only a few allowances for the controller. It would be nice to see something built with a new mindset for consoles, rather than trying to translate PC RTS controls over. For what it is Halo Wars satisfies both the action hungry Halo fan and the cerebral RTS fan to some degree. It just won’t wow either camp.
Lawrence (Mar 27, 2009)
If it didn't have the Halo names and trademark characters, this title might as well be called "RTS for Dummies". More than simplifying the control scheme to bring it to the consoles, it entirely dumbs down the entire concept of a real-time strategy game. You're limited in terms of how you organize and coordinate your troops and attacks, and it can't hold a candle to how Red Alert 3 handled this on a 360 controller. Whereas better games in the genre can present you with large-scale, epic battles, Halo Wars is more about taking a smaller group of units to take out small objectives. You won't be seeing C&C-style battles with dozens of Kirovs and Apocalypse tanks here. There's plenty of fan service for the Halo faithful, as the story, sound effects, units, and even the menus follow the exact same style as the FPS games. However, this isn't enough for strategy fans that were looking for something deeper than Halo Wars.
GameSpot UK (Feb 20, 2009)
Although Halo Wars can be rewarding and fun to play for a time, the short length of the single-player campaign and the lack of variety in the multiplayer ultimately leaves the game feeling unfinished and threadbare. It looks and sounds great, and it captures the essence of the series well, but there's not much else to keep you coming back once you've finished the short campaign and grown tired of playing multiplayer skirmishes between the two sides. It's good while it lasts, but it will appeal more to fans of Halo and casual RTS players than anyone looking for a deeply engrossing strategy game.
There are some who say that there hasn't been a good real-time strategy game on a console yet. Unfortunately, Halo Wars does nothing to prove them wrong. While it definitely captures the look and feel of the Halo universe quite well, there are just far too many simplifications and limitations to make it more than just an average RTS. If you're new to the strategy genre, and have enjoyed the Halo series, it's conceivable that you might like parts of the game, despite the short single-player campaign and repetitive multiplayer. There are measures of clever thought that have gone into the game, and there are definitely some unlockable rewards to be found if you stick with it. It's just not a game that is deep enough, or just plain enjoyable enough for you to want to stick with it. It's sad, but Halo Wars is neither truly great nor truly terrible, instead settling for the mediocre middle, unfamiliar territory for both Ensemble and the Halo franchise.
I'll finish with this – if the game was called ___ Wars (not Halo, insert any noun), it wouldn't have gotten the high scores it has recently. But that's only in a perfect world. As it stands now, the game is selling like crazy because of those four little letters – H-a-l-o. As I mentioned before, the game is targeted to an audience that doesn't exist, and nearly everyone who looks twice at the game will find something to be disappointed in and/or gripe about. I don't know where I heard it, but I've come across a little saying: Every time a gamer passes over a good game to buy this stinker, an angel LOSES its wings. And harp… yeah, they lose their harp too. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be responsible for taking the wings Clarence (the angel from It's a Wonderful Life) wanted so badly, just because of those four little letters gracing the top of the game's box. Quit reading this, head to the store and buy something that isn't Halo Wars.