End Transmission…

Happy Weekend TAY!

Yippie! A commitment-free weekend with no visitors, no scheduled events to attend, and no more homework for my kid as school ends for the summer next week. Just a nice, lazy weekend to play some games, watch some movies, and maybe do some yard work (emphasis on *maybe*). I hope everyone else has a nice relaxing weekend planned as well.

I finished off the Halo Wars: Definitive Edition campaign on PC last week and I had a good time with it. It isn’t mindblowing, but it is still a solid RTS after all these years.

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The PC edition has mouse-controls which are much slicker compared to using a controller with Halo Wars on the Xbox. Being able to point-and-click on the mini-map and the ability to lasso units on screen are just a few of the mouse-enabled options that make the experience far more pleasant. The original Halo Wars on 360 controlled extremely well for an RTS on a console controller, but nothing beats a mouse and keyboard for precision unit control.

I’m not much for Real-Time Strategy games in general, and my experience with them is very limited, but Halo Wars seems to be a solid (if not simple) RTS game. I’m not very good with these games and would rather be the soldier on the battlefield than the overseer-general, but Halo Wars keeps the action up while keeping the RTS humdrum to a minimum.

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Unlike Ensemble Studios’ flagship product, the Age of Empires series, Halo Wars keeps all the base building confined to a fortress that you upgrade with pads around a central structure. These pads are where you assign different buildings and it makes little difference how you configure your base. You can upgrade the fortress to support more pads and four turrets, but you don’t have to spend a lot of time planning where to place your buildings as you do in many of the big RTS games.

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Resources come in the form of Supply Pads that take a building slot and can be upgraded for better output. This takes out the whole resource collection game that is a major part of most RTS titles.

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Without resource collection or having to worry about your base building skills, Halo Wars becomes all about the combat. The combat is competent and reminds me of Command & Conquer in many ways. The game’s camera is rather close (even when fully zoomed out), so you never feel like you are having massive battles. However, the closer view also gives you a chance to see all the wonderfully animated units from the Halo universe.

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Halo Wars: Definitive Edition is still quite a good looking game and all the textures and geometry have seen a bump in this latest incarnation. At 60fps@4K on PC, it hardly feels like a 10-year-old game.

Halo Wars isn’t breaking any new ground and the simplified gameplay is a great fit for novice RTS players. Veteran RTS players likely aren’t going to find too much to sink their teeth into, but it is a fun romp with interesting scenarios throughout the campaign. At the very least, you get a pretty good Halo story with lots of Nolan North.

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At 15 hours, Halo Wars’ campaign wasn’t long enough to let me decide on what I felt like playing next, so I just randomly chose to play Middle-earth: Shadow of War.

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However, upon starting Shadow of War, I realized I wasn’t going to get the best experience on my current PC hardware. With everything maxed, even at 1080p, I was barely able to keep a solid 60fps. Performance became even worse once I installed the High-Resolution Texture Pack. The framerate drops became more frequent as the game was looking for over 8GB of VRAM! Oh well, I’ll just put the game away and wait until my next PC upgrade to play it in all its glory. Now I just have to figure out what to play next.

Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to pick a new game this weekend; I really don’t know what I’m in the mood to play. My wife and I have resurrected our game of The Last of Us and we are trying to focus on finishing it so we can move on to more Tomb Raider...at least I have one game to focus on.

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So, what are you playing this weekend?