A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
to know that this is the first Halo game rated "T" instead of "M." Unlike the other
Halo incarnations, Halo Wars in not a first person shooter but a real time
strategy game with less gore and violence. There is still some violence as you watch
tanks, ground troops, flamethrowers, missiles, and other military weapons do
damage, the action is far enough away that you can't see the details. For
example, you can see bodies flying through the landscape, just not the carnage.
A few video cutscenes show closeup fighting with human bodies impaled and some
blood which is why the game is rated "Teen." Players will also hear mild
cursing. The game can be played online where colorful language is the norm.
Common Sense Media does not recommend children under the age of 12 playing
What's it about?
Long known as a first-person shooter, the Halo franchise shifts gears in HALO WARS, a simple real-time strategy (RTS) game that should entice diehard fans. Set about 20 years before the original Halo game, the game follows the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) as they battle the alien race called the Covenant. Instead of commanding one character, players take charge of multiple UNSC squads. Units range from Infantry and flamethrowers to big vehicles such as the Scorpion Tank.
Players will build up a base, gather supplies, create units, and bolster military technology. They can navigate the map and select single units, or hit the shoulder button to select all units. To attack, players point their cursor to an enemy and hit an attack button. Most units have a standard strike and a stronger secondary attack. For example, Infantry units can lob grenades. Each level is broken down into specific objectives, such as destroy an enemy base or defend a particular area. Players can also engage in online skirmishes against human players, assuming either the UNSC or Covenant armies.
Is it any good?
Halo Wars is a fun RTS that is pretty easy to control. Between excellent tutorials and four levels of difficulty (which can be changed mid-campaign), this is a game that newbies can play. And you don't need to be familiar with the previous Halo games to enjoy it. The game streamlines military commands, making it simple to switch between units in different areas of the map as well as give orders. The one problem is the inability to create custom groups of units. Breaking up units into special groups requires a few too many steps. The action is quite intense, particularly as you progress to the later stages of the single-player campaign. At times, combat is frenetic as you're hopping between units dispersed throughout the environment. One moment, you may fight enemies on one portion of the map while your base is enduring an assault from a surprise attack.
Halo Wars look sharp, an impressive feat when you consider how small each unit looks. When big vehicles or weapons are destroyed, debris flies across the landscape. Battles also look very smooth, even when dozens of units litter the screen. While the real time strategy approach is different from previous Halo titles, Halo Wars is a worthwhile strategy adventure. Plus the cooperative and competitive online modes make it something you can explore with friends.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this game compares to the rest of the Halo franchise. Do you prefer commanding many forces or just one super-powered character? Since this game is T-rated and set 20 years before the other 3 M-rated games, do you think this is a good way for the publisher to expand the Halo's license to younger players?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.