Halo Wars’ believeable story is presented through some great cutscenes, with high-quality cinematics and decent voice acting. Combined with authentic-looking units and environments, it goes a long way toward making Halo Wars look and feel like part of the series. The storyline is slightly confusing at first but eventually pieces together to make a satisfying ending, though it’s certainly not long and should take most players around five hours to play through. Your adventure gets underway on a colonised world called Harvest, where the UNSC battleship Spirit of Fire’s away-team leader Sgt. John Forge is investigating Covenant activity. Along with scientist Professor Anders and the Fire’s holographic AI construct Serina, they uncover a plot in which an Arbiter, in charge of the Covenant forces on the planet, gets his hands on a mysterious superweapon left by the long-extinct Forerunners.
Halo Wars’ gameplay and control scheme are introduced through two simple tutorials, and though a few more lessons would’ve helped to flesh out all of the unit types, it’s not difficult to figure out the roles of the different UNSC and Covenant forces. The controls function adequately, but you’re quite limited as to what you can actually do with them. For example, you can select all units, all units onscreen, all units of a specific type, or all units within a small radius, but you can’t assign units to custom groups. This makes it difficult to manage units when you’re trying to fight a battle on two fronts. Combat is streamlined to just two buttons, so you can easily point out the enemy you want vanquished, send your soldiers after them, and use special attacks where applicable.