Halo Wars 2

What is it? In this sequel to the popular 2009 real-time strategy game (RTS) “Halo Wars,” players once again command UNSC Marines, Spartans and vehicles like Warthogs and Scorpions against a new enemy called, the Banished. Taking place directly after the events of “Halo 5: Guardians,” players can jump into large battlefields solo, cooperatively or in multiplayer.

The Good: “Halo Wars 2” has a compelling story that’s bound to draw gamers in. The Spirit of Fire has been in hyper sleep for 28 years and somehow they’ve appeared at a mysterious, uncharted planet. When a group of Spartans goes to explore the planet, they meet Atriox, a brute leader of a group of rogues known as the Banished.

Told through a series of cinematic cutscenes, the plot of “Halo Wars 2” is fascinating. Detailed and with rich characters, including a new AI named Isabel, the action gamers will dive into comes with a relevant purpose. Without your help, the rest of the universe is in danger. There’s an intensity to this title that’s incredibly engaging.

Game presentation is another area where “Halo Wars 2” shines. Worlds and maps are eye catching and nuanced, with a variety of stunning locales. The attention to detail in this title is first rate. Foliage moves realistically, soldiers and vehicles look great and map levels have texture and depth. One level even had tiny, multicolored butterflies flying around. The audio quality is equally strong. Sound effects were authentic and deep and the dialogue for soldiers is varied and can be quite humorous. I laughed when a marine was channeling his inner John McClane and yelled, “Welcome to the party pal!”

If you’re familiar with the gameplay from the original “Halo Wars,” you’ll feel comfortable jumping into this sequel. That said, gameplay controls are more complex and your commanded soldiers have a greater array of capabilities. Spartans can hijack vehicles and have new abilities, soldiers can garrison behind certain structures for cover and matching up units to face certain kinds of foes requires greater planning for success. Players will also be using the D-pad a lot more. Although PC players won’t have any issues, RTS titles aren’t too common on consoles (I played “Halo Wars 2″ on my Xbox One). There may be a learning curve for some, but I believe most players will enjoy the greater amount of control they’ll have in this title.

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