Review Halo Wars 2 | Let’s take a moment and honor Ensemble Studios, the developers that made the first Halo Wars and Age of Empires. On paper Microsoft found the perfect developer for Halo Wars 2, the British Creative Assembly. Known for Total War, and funny enough the RTS game Stormrise that came out for consoles around the same time as the first Halo Wars. So, let’s take a look in this review if they managed to leave Stormrise in the dark and let Halo Wars 2 shine.
- Ensemble Studios made the one-of-the-greatest RTS control schemes for console and Creative Assembly was smart enough to respect that. They even improved it with some slight touches. For example, it’s very easy to make a unit group, giving you better and more control to do multiple things. One of the correct negative aspects about the first Halo Wars game was that battles could easily be won by using “Select all Units” that’s less of an issue now with the group units feature.
- The single player campaign was shorter than I expected but the story was one of the best in years. Accompanied by the impressive work from BLUR Studio, do they need an introduction? They always deliver the most beautiful and impressive cut-scenes in the gaming industry. Reason why the story feels great has just one reason, a believable and scary villain, on par with General RAAM from Gears of War. Atriox, a name that will hopefully get a bigger role in the Halo Universe, the best villain that Halo ever had. Another great character is Isabel, a similar AI like Cortana, she provides some positive desperate whining to give the story some emotional meaning.
- Although the campaign is pretty short it offers tremendous replay value with side-quest and collectibles. Each and every mission feels new and you’ll never do the same thing twice. One of the strengths from Halo Wars 2 is that they make every action scene playable, taking over a base or hijacking a vehicle is all gameplay. It really felt like Halo too, in a way even more than Halo 5: Guardians.
- Audiophiles take note, Halo Wars 2 has the most impressive and fantastic sound on Xbox One. It’s beyond impressive how everything has a unique and high value quality sound. I’m still getting goosebumps from the Hellbringers flamethrowers, what a sound! Orchestral music delivers some emotional and euphoric feelings that help make the campaign stand out more. Another nice touch is the more arcade-like sound while playing Blitz. Seriously though, Halo Wars 2 might be a small disappointment for me but the music and sound will always be memorable and deserves to win all Audio awards for 2017.
- Blitz mode is a true innovative RTS- feature, the deck-building mechanic provides some incredible fast,varied and unpredictable gameplay. Unlike every other online mode from Halo Wars 2, it’s perfect for that fast Halo-rush in the evening or for casual gamers that aren’t good enough with the typical RTS-skills. It was a risky thing, creating this arcade mode for a game that requires skill and RTS devotion but I’m very glad that Microsoft greenlighted this. (Let’s just hope it becomes playable online, fast.)
- I’m a little puzzled why Halo Wars Definitive Edition is 60FPS and Halo Wars 2 only 30FPS, sure it looks a little better but not in a way that you would expect a lower frame rate. Weird, I guess that we will have to wait for Scorpio to see an improved frame rate.
- I don’t think Halo Wars 2 is a game for hardcore RTS fans. The simplistic strategic abilities don’t really offer much, Halo Wars 2 focus is more action-orientated.
- It’s The Master Chief Collection all over again, “Out-of-sync” disconnect happens very, very frequently. Thousands of players that bought the Ultimate Edition have been playing and experiencing many online issues. With all the open and closed beta moments you would think that they could have fixed this yesterday. Unacceptable and a complete mess!
- Never thought I say this about a Halo game but the game is literally full with nasty glitches and bugs. Here is the stuff I encountered: Multiple infinite loading screens forcing me to shut down the Xbox One because going back to home doesn’t even work, UI that blends together so you can’t read or use the information, tutorial that glitches so it doesn’t advance, frame rate that massively slows down and forces you to restart to fix it, Achievements that refuse to unlock, Leader Wheel that stays open after using it, units that get stuck for no reason, mission Under the Dark is a nightmare I had to replay this five freaking times because the AI was stuck.
Score 69% | For me Halo Wars 2 is a small disappointing sequel. Each hour is filled with bugs or online disconnects, making it a frustrating experience. I can only hope that Creative Assembly and 343 Industries can fix the game so it can shine like it deserves.
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