Battle for Middle-Earth II came first, and was met with lukewarm reviews. Then came Command & Conquer 3, which tried to refine BFME’s formula but still couldn’t get it quite right. Now comes Ensemble’s Halo Wars, the first real-time strategy game for the 360 to be built exclusively with the system’s controller in mind, which hopes to succeed where those games failed.
“I think we have [cracked it],” said Halo Wars lead designer Graham Devine of the game’s controls. “I think that’s the breakthrough.”
“If you look at all the RTS implementations on a console from Pikmin to C&C3 and Overlord, the games that were made directly for the console have the best implementation of controls. The games that were ported from PC games or had a PC version too had to find some halfway ground that’s not best for the console.”
Devine claims Ensemble’s ability to design Halo Wars exclusively for the Xbox 360 was the key in perfecting RTS controls on the gamepad.
“We decided to design our game from the ground up just for the console,” he says, “that’s all we thought about. I really think that once you get to feel the controls you’ll see that that’s the revolutionary aspect. We’re really happy with that.”
360 owners will have the chance to get their hands on Halo Wars, and “feel the controls”, in early 2008.