New Games Plus: Wars of Halo

I’m confused by Halo Wars. One of the most popular console first person shooters has been turned into a real time strategy game, and it’s not even made by Bungie? Yes my friend, it’s true. But there’s so much more to Halo Wars than that. For starters, did you know that Halo was originally announced as an RTS in 1999? It then got worked into the magical FPS we all know and love after a brief stint as a 3rd person shooter. So even though the jump to this genre may seem a bit jarring to the average Halo fan, it’s always been part of the game’s past.

But therein lies the problem that I see with Halo Wars: the average Halo fan. Painting broad strokes and drawing from stereotypes I’ve created from the my stint in retail, I can say that the average Halo fan likes Halo games because they are first-person shooters. They’re damn good first person shooters, but they’re shooters nonetheless. These guys aren’t going to give a rat’s ass about an RTS. They’re the Bros who want to shoot stuff.

That’s a horrible way to look at it, though, and I’m slowly coming to grips with that fact. As of January of last year, Halo 3 has sold more than eight million copies, and I’m sure that there are more people who are willing to try new things in that group than I give credit. I mean, the demo was downloaded over two million times in the first five days of its release a few weeks ago, and I’m sure at least some of those people who had never before played an RTS seriously considered the purchase of one. Then there’s the pedigree behind the creation of Halo Wars to consider. Ensemble Studios knows how to make a great game; in fact, they’ve made several of them. They’re probably one of the top three studios that could successfully bring an RTS to consoles and make it feel right. Halo Wars was their first project designed specifically for consoles, and it’s a helluva first try from what I’m hearing. It’s a shame that Microsoft saw fit to shut them down; there’s a lot of potential in this audience, as the demo download numbers will tell you.

Time will tell if a console RTS based on an FPS series will be successful. Personally, I think it’s going to sell very well due to the Halo name, but I don’t think the game’s going to hit big with the average Halo fan or the average RTS fan. And that is the only game that is worth talking about this week.

The original version of this post was bad. It was filled with inaccuracies and ridiculous assumptions that, in hindsight, I am ashamed to have written. It was the equivalent of Kotaku’s comment section mixed with the bad part of NeoGAF. It was sloppy, rushed, and at the time, I didn’t even care. After some thinking, I have come to the following conclusion:

This is going to be the last New Games Plus that I will write. The sporadic nature of the column over the past two months has been due to a lack of worthwhile products mixed with an increasingly busy personal life.

I’ve been writing NG+ since August 14th, 2007, and I’m honestly surprised I made it this long. Most of the time, I can’t commit to anything, and I usually drop out after a week or so. But something weird happened after I posted up those first few articles. I realized that people were reading my work, and they were actually commenting on it. The strangest part to me was that it seemed like people actually enjoyed it. This column really was an amazing thing to me, and it wouldn’t have been that way without all of you. When Jeremy first showed us the page views we had gotten, I saw that I was consistently bringing in a thousand views a week, I was floored. I figured that I was getting maybe, MAYBE a hundred. That right there inspired me to keep it up.
But then life happened. When I started, I was working as an Assistant Manager for GameStop, and my life was games games games games games and then my girlfriend. Then I proposed to her. Then it was back to games all the time. Then last summer, due to my own stupidity, I got fired from GameStop. I had, thankfully, gotten a “real” job working in an office, so my exposure to video games was cut dramatically literally over night. Now, we’re in the final stages of the wedding planning and then shortly after that a cross-country move, and I’ve just been exhausted.

If I had the chance to do it over again, I wouldn’t change a damn thing. Writing here on the front page of GameSpite every week has been an amazing opportunity, and because of it, several rather awesome things have happened. First, I wrote the Retro Roundups for 1UP for a brief time. Then I got the chance to sit in a room with Jeremy, Chris Kohler, and Tycho and talk about the Dreamcast for an hour. And finally, I got a staff writing position on a small gaming website. Seriously, this has been the coolest thing I’ve done. I really appreciate every single one of you who has ever read New Games Plus even once. It really means a lot to me. Thanks again, guys.

— Andy Keener

17 thoughts on “New Games Plus: Wars of Halo

  1. I think Halo Wars will actually do well on the console, simply because it’s stripped of all the complex features that make the genre a real slog with a controller. It does what it does well, which I think *will* appeal to Halo fans, but likely not many people who love real-time strategy because there’s just not enough there to keep them occupied.

    Anyway, best of luck in you future endeavors!

  2. Good luck dude! Best of luck on everything in the future, ’cause you’re awesome, and if you’re not gonna be here for us, then you damn well better be off having an totally awesome life! :D

  3. It’s been fun reading your stuff on the front page. You offered a blanket perspective on current games that was quick and enjoyable to read.

    Duty calls! Go get wed!

  4. I’m sad to say that my first comment on these articles is on the last one you’ll write. I’ve always enjoyed reading these and getting your take on all the new console releases.

    As for Halo Wars, as good as that may be when that comes out, it makes me wish that someone at Relic would convince the company to bring Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War II over to consoles. That game strips away a lot of the micromanagement and lets you focus on your small group of units and tactics. It’s even better in co-op.

  5. I don’t comment much, but I have enjoyed your entries; they will be missed.

    And good luck with the wedding and the move; don’t let them stress you out too much!

  6. Congratulations and good luck on the wedding and marriage that follows. I’ve enjoyed your columns over the past year and a half, but you do what you need to do.

  7. Good luck, etc. etc. Definitely won’t be the same without you. I don’t know if you really care or not, but aside from particularly big games, I came to rely on these things for the release schedule.

  8. Good luck with whatever the future holds.

    As far as Halo Wars is concerned, I think it may do to RTSes what Halo did for FPSes. If we can all reach back into the dusty corners of our mind and remember a time before we characterized FPS players as the “dumb jocks” of the video gaming world, we may be surprised to find that those times were largely pre-Halo. For many people, Halo was their first FPS, and for many more, it was their first multi-player FPS. The game absolutely blew minds and drug a whole new group of non-gamers into the fold. It had this effect not because the game was so much better than other FPSes of the time, but simply because it was a new experience for those that played it.
    I do not think there’s anything so complex about an RTS, especially Halo Wars, that keeps them from being appreciated by a wider audience – it just so happens that the genre hasn’t had its “break out” game yet. Those same people that had their minds blown by Halo will have their minds blown again by Halo Wars. Sure, you might have been playing RTS games since middle school, but these people are about to enter a whole new world. They, and their preferences, will leave their mark on the genre.

  9. Congrats. Anybody know how Halo Wars compares to Myth? I really liked the first one.

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