Halo Wars - updated impressions

It's a tiny demo but there's a lot to it - as expected, every vehicle and unit from the Halo-verse is represented, and battles resemble those from the games, as if the game's camera were stationed high above the battlefield in Combat Evolved. Bungie have shared pretty much everything with Ensemble, so Needlers sound right, Elites dodge as they should and Ghosts drift and slide in a recognizable way.

Borrowing from Company of Heroes is a smart move too - rather than managing hundreds of units, you're in charge of a handful of squads. Battles are still epic, but smaller and more tactical than C&C3. With fewer units and the increased importance of terrain tactics, carefully managing the units you have is critical.

But careful management needs precise controls, which is where every console RTS ever has failed. Ensemble spent almost six months honing and refining controls and the result is the first console RTS which doesn't set the confusion monkeys loose in your brain. For starters, levels are built around the control limitations - every mission will be playable without needing to shift the camera. The C&C "three buttons to do one thing" system is out - now a single-click selects a unit, a double-click selects all units on screen, and a triple-click selects every unit on the battlefield. Very simple.

Which means they may have finally got it right for the console RTS. We're already confident that the controls won't be an instant minus ten. Even at this stage, Halo Wars works.