Halo Wars 2 Review
The RTS genre is now stuck in the limb, where only the memory of Dune II with its spice lingers, and of Red Alert 2 with its Soviet airships and videos with live actors. What has ever happened to real-time strategy games in recent years? StarCraft 2 trilogy and not bad, but very budgetary Gray Goo. I want more. Who would have thought that bringing the genre to life would fall to the console RTS - Halo Wars 2. The original game was able to show how great a classic strategy game can be played on a gamepad. And after all, there are no simplifications and "rendering". Therefore, we were not worried about the continuation. And they did the right thing.
We have already talked about the plot three times in the preview, but for those who missed we will repeat it. Action Halo Wars 2 starts 28 years after the end of the original. The crew of the Spirit of Fire ship all this time was in a prolonged cryogenic sleep, which is suddenly interrupted by the ship's artificial intelligence, which intercepted the signal from the UNSC troops. Captain James Cutter, along with his team, realizes that while they slept, the state of affairs in the universe has changed dramatically. Soon the crew of the Spirit of Fire detects a certain "Installation" - Cutter orders it to be investigated.
Of course, then everything goes downhill: a detachment of Spartans finds artificial intelligence on an abandoned base, the dialogue with which is interrupted by Atriox, the leader of the Exiles, a group of brutal mercenaries that broke away from the dominant Covenant.
Atriox's life is steeped in pain and suffering. The Covenant sent his comrades to war like cannon fodder. What to take from them - barbarians. Only Atriox himself returned alive from such suicidal missions - wounded and covered in the blood of his brothers. As a reward, he received only new tasks. But his patience ran out, he went against his masters; his courage inspired and led the other Brutus, and internal enmity arose within the Covenant. The story of Atriox is pathetic in a good way, filled with drama and hatred - the leader of the Exiles became a real decoration of the generally simple scenario of Halo Wars 2.
In the center of the narrative is the clash of two strong leaders: Captain James Cutter and Atriox. Conflict is served in beautiful CGI videos that look like millions of dollars were thrown into each one. The quality of the facial animation is amazing, the production and direction can be compared to Hollywood blockbusters, and when large-scale battles with a bunch of special effects and explosions unfold on the screen, it is difficult to get rid of the desire to contemplate it on the huge screen in the cinema so as not to miss a single detail.
It should be noted that the local storyline will be fully revealed only to those who are familiar with the Halo universe.
The developers promised a tune in the spirit of "the novice player with Cutter in the same position - both do not understand what is happening in this universe and understand on the fly." In some places this is true, but a lot of white spots remain. What is the Ark, what is the Covenant in general, why artificial intelligence has an expiration date after which it naturally blows away - such things will not explain to you in detail.
True, this hardly interferes with enjoying Halo Wars 2, because Creative Assembly made a familiar and understandable RTS, which is based on the principles that originated in Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty.
If you have ever played any of the classic RTS, then you know perfectly well what Halo Wars 2 is about: building and managing bases, extracting resources, upgrading units, commanding dozens and hundreds of fighters - everything is here, everything is classic.
The balance is also built according to the traditional scheme: air technology prevails over ground, ground is effective against infantry, well, and infantry, in turn, is good at resisting aviation.
Nothing new, but it works almost perfectly. The British at Creative Assembly made Halo Wars 2 a game for the widest possible audience, not just for die-hard RTS fans. Although there is also a difficulty of its own - many units have unique skills in reserve, the competent use of which can turn the tide of a battle.
Missions here last no more than an hour, and compact maps make it easier to control multiple bases. The number of slots for building up buildings and defensive turrets around the main base is limited - this limit allows you to waste less time on management, but at the same time maintains the desired depth. What is better to build and where to develop the base? Increase resource extraction or make more machinery factories? You decide.
In addition to the usual tasks with the construction of bases, there are also directed action episodes, where, for example, you are given control of one Spartan, capable of single-handedly butchering units of the Exiles. You rush through enemy bases, destroy opponents, smash enemy structures and free prisoners. In general, do the usual things for the shooter parts of Halo, just in Halo Wars 2 they give you a look at it from a different angle. This nicely dilutes the familiar mechanics.
As I said in my first impressions , commanding troops with an Xbox One controller can be a painless experience. The control scheme was good even in the first Halo Wars, and the sequel has carefully preserved all its developments. In short: the authors perfectly used all the buttons of the gamepad - you can quickly dispose of the troops, and the radial menu will help you quickly figure out the management of the base.
But what the original lacked was the abundance of network modes: here the sequel bypasses its predecessor. Among the usual modes there is "Slaughterhouse", where the first to lose the main base wins the battle; "Bastion" offers to build miniature bases and protect them from the influx of enemies; in "Supremacy" it is necessary to restrain strong points. Multiplayer battles in Halo Wars 2 are also pure classics. They can stretch for an hour or two, and closer to the final on the map you will not see anything behind the explosions and armies of units. It is difficult to say how long all this will hold, but the balance does not fall apart here, so the potential for Halo Wars 2 multiplayer is definitely there.
Halo Wars 2 is one of the most spectacular RTS in history: during battles, the screen is filled with fireworks from special effects, explosions and enemy vehicles scattering to pieces.
But "Blitz" stands out among all the modes - a symbiosis of a familiar strategy and a card game, working according to the rules of the basic RTS mechanics, but in a somewhat simplified form.
Instead of a base - a deck of six cards, they are needed to call units, and resources from time to time appear on the map, and are also mined from destroyed enemies. The main task of Blitz is to capture more control points. Whoever completes this task first wins.
Blitz takes even less time than the campaign itself, it is a very modern entertainment: when you don't feel like building bases and doing other things, you come to Blitz, have a couple of short battles and go about your business. In this mode, Halo Wars 2 turns into a session game like FIFA, which you can play in the evening for an hour and enjoy the most important thing - the battles. But do not think that this is a completely primitive thing, there are tactics, tricks and nuances here as well. For example, you can play cards that summon new fighters anywhere, but soldiers will appear with halved damage and health (the effect disappears after a few seconds). And if you call them at the starting point of the match, then the unpleasant debuff will no longer be.
Creative Assembly has a clear vision of how and for whom they make games. Halo Wars 2 is a classic of the genre that neatly incorporates all the elements of modern game design. Those who came for a spectacular storyline campaign, and those who value balanced and tactical online battles will be happy here. It doesn't matter if you are going to make Halo Wars 2 your favorite game every night, or you just want to get a little nostalgic about the C&C and Red Alert times, you will enjoy the game anyway. Halo Wars 2 has a perfectly flexible form.
And most importantly: Halo Wars 2 showed that RTS was forgotten in vain, strategies can still captivate, including on consoles.