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Master Chiefs Everywhar!!

Master Chiefs Everywhar!!

Really? I mean, really? I have not even played the demo for Halo Wars yet, and I already know what the prime downfall of the game is. I wish someone would tell me what marketing genius decided to adapt the Halo franchise to the RTS genre on a platform that primarly controls with two thumbsticks.

HAS THIS EVER WORKED?

I consider myself a PC gamer first and a console gamer second, so I’ve never given past console RTS’s a chance, given that I could always just go play C&C or Starcraft instead. My opinion is that if you even have to mention the controls in a review, the game has failed. Control issues with a game amounts to the same as when you have that brat kicking the back of your seat in a movie theatre. It removes you from the game, and constantly reminds you that you are not actually a badass space marine, and that you should probably be writing a term paper or doing the dishes instead of wasting your life with an xbox. The immersion factor is what motivates you to procrastinate your daily responsibilities and not feel guilty. When you’re having a good time, it is time well spent. Period.

With this said, why would Microsoft allow a developer to take their flagship franchise, the almighty Halo, and drag it through the mud. Perhaps they feel that the Halo name is so strong, and that the sheer marketing momentum of a new Halo game will overcome the complaints of control issues, and still produce a profitable (albiet not fun) product. Perhaps they are correct. However, if this is their strategy, then it will only produce short-term success.

When it comes to an RTS, the mouse and keyboard always wins. You’re not going to rush anyone when you’re too busy fumbling with shoulder and directional pads. And guess what, when it comes to an FPS, the mouse and keyboard also always wins. No matter how skilled you get with those thumbsticks, when put up against the precision of a mouse, you lose. You lose bad. Like headshots-while-flying-through-the-air-and-shit bad. I’m sure there’s some crazy Korean kid out there with Master-chief sneakers that can prove me wrong, but he’s putting a lot more effort into getting good with a gamepad than I would ever have to put into getting good with a mouse and keyboard to pwn him.

However, this is no secret. Gamers know this, and game developers know this. I predict that this is the main reason you can’t play Left 4 Dead on Xbox Live against PC players. It would no longer be fun. The console gamers would have a severe handicap, at which point, the game no longer competes based on skill. In fact, a few companies have attempted to remedy this issue by manufacturing controller adapters for the xbox. According to the review, it even works!

With this said, I will attempt another prediction. Even if you were to get Halo Wars to work flawlessly with a mouse and keyboard setup, all control issues aside, you would be left with a mediocre RTS. The developer focused so much on getting the controls right, I have no doubt that game quality was sacrificed. When I watch youtube videos of squads of Spartans (Master Chiefs) attacking enemies, I can’t help but think of continuity errors. For the last decade, Bungie has showed us that a single Spartan (you) can single handedly beat everyone’s asses. But in Halo Wars, you need a squad of these fellows, and they probably die a lot.

(EDIT: Shortly after writing this blog, I came across this article: http://rtspcgames.com/gaming/halo-wars-controls-better-than-a-pc-rts/.  I think someone is lying to us…)

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