Generally favorable reviews - based on 92 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 81 out of 92
  2. Negative: 0 out of 92
  1. 100
    The differences between Halo Wars and a more traditional PC RTS are distinct. Yes, the controls aren’t as precise nor are there a great diversity of units, structures, or resources—but that's the point. By approaching the game as fundamentally different, the resulting design feels native to the console controller. In the end Halo Wars just plain works, and is a huge step in the development of real time strategy gaming on the consoles.
  2. 100
    Halo Wars is an absolute triumph, every bit as well designed and beautifully implemented as the Halo trilogy; the only real downside is that it's so addictive that you'll find it hard to tear yourself away. Finished the fight? Time to start another one!
  3. Halo Wars is possibly the best real-time strategy game ever made for console. It captures all the essence of the genre and, for the first time, translates it to our gamepad with absolute success. It's not like the dominating sort of strategy game in PCs, but it has its own, well defined personality, and its specific features, which define Halo Wars as a solid and outstanding bet.
  4. Halo Wars is such a good RTS because it does so many things right. It nails the Halo look and feel through its cut scenes, environments, units and even that distinctively saturated Halo colour pallet.
  5. It's a shame to see that Ensemble had to close their doors after this, because it's really the best attempt I've seen at bringing over a solid RTS experience on consoles, and I hope it's a game that other RTS fans (and even non-fans) will give a try, because it's definitely worth picking up.
  6. Ensemble Studios finally achieved a result sought by many developers this gen: creating a true console RTS, easy and amusing to play, yet keeping it highly challenging. Besides this, we get a great Halo story, with charismatic characters and amazing CGI cut-scenes. This game did for the RTS genre what the original Halo did for the FPS, and we're sure it will have a great impact in future games of this kind.
  7. Though it's not a first-person shooter, Halo Wars packs all the Halo fixings you've come to expect: an engaging campaign, co-op play, engrossing multiplayer, efficient party-friendly matchmaking, hidden skulls, Legendary difficulty, and impeccable controls. We can confidently say that it's the foremost example of a real-time strategy game done right on a console. [Mar 2009, p.72]
  8. Halo Wars isn't perfect, but it's a huge step in the right direction for console RTS. For the first time in the sub-genre, I felt like I was playing a game instead of wrestling with a kludged-together control scheme. [Mar 2009, p.88]
  9. 90
    If there's a better swan song for a game studio than creating an important console title in the Halo universe, I'm at a loss to think of it.
  10. 90
    There's a real sense of cohesive design and polish at play here, something that we feel is missing from ports of PC titles. This is truly a console RTS, rather than a rethink on an existing title and that shines through in the intelligent interface, the interesting campaign and the multiplayer and co-op friendly gameplay.
  11. Halo Wars is undoubtedly fun; one just worries if it’s not enough for one group of gamers and too much for another. If you’re part of that middle ground like I believe I am, then you’ll love Halo Wars as much as I did.
  12. Perhaps the most impressive thing, though, is that it's managed to feel like a totally authentic Halo experience, rather than just a cynical spin-off. We've no doubt a strategy game will be a hard sell to a lot of people, but if this introduces even just a small proportion of die-hard Halo fans to a rewarding new genre of game, or indeed just a small proportion of strategy fans to the brilliance of Bungie's rich sci-fi universe, then it can be deemed a success that the now defunct Ensemble Studios can be proud of.
  13. A solid RTS on the Xbox 360, Halo Wars may not break the mold, but it does provide an impressive entry to the series and one that finally makes the genre feel at home on a console.
  14. Overall this is a tremendous addition to the Halo universe.
  15. 90
    If you're a die-hard Halo or RTS fan, Halo Wars is a must own. For everybody else, I highly recommend, at the very least, a rental.
  16. A must have for RTS fans, and a must have for those who enjoy the Halo universe.
  17. Ensemble have created something really special, they have managed to make a genre previously inaccessible to console audiences and turn it around into something that’s easy to play and heaps of fun.
  18. Halo Wars easily sweeps you up in the action even if you’re not a huge fan of real-time strategy titles.
  19. For those of us who are fans of the Halo series this is a great game to play and have to further explore the rich Halo universe. But for those people looking for a deep strategy experience should look elsewhere because this Real Time Strategy title is not your standard RTS but more of an action game with some RTS elements added in for flavor. A must buy for anyone who likes action games, Halo and playing with their friends.
  20. Folks that like arcade real-time strategy games, without lots of micromanagement and a well-developed multiplayer-mode will absolutely love this title. Halo Wars is a must-have for a sophisticated games collection.
  21. I did not expect such a solid experience from Halo Wars. Simple, yet deliciously exciting; just like a piece of strawberry cheese cake.
  22. It’s the best RTS on the Xbox 360. Though this isn’t stating much, any forthcoming RTS will undoubtedly have to compare to Halo Wars in the future. Ensemble Studios did their job in creating an accessible RTS that newcomers won’t have too much trouble playing thirty minute sessions.
  23. Ensemble Studios achieves which is, probably, the best strategy game in consoles. The fact that Halo Wars had a Xbox 360 only development makes the usual RTS standards shine with a pad for the first time. An interesting campaign with the always exciting cooperative guarantees a long life for this game, but the reception of the skirmishes is the real fact to determinate if Halo Wars will be ranked in the tops of the most played games in Xbox Live.
  24. Overall, what you have a very well done effort by Ensemble Studios. They have taken a franchise that must be handled carefully, if only because of the fans, and successfully blended it with a completely different type of game.
  25. This strategy incarnation of Halo shows that without the burden of PC version it is possible to make a great RTS game for console. The only flaws are the length of the campaign and some minor idiocies in AI's behavior. [Mar 2009]
  26. The graphics are good, the cut-scenes stunning and the handling pretty good – for a console-RTS. That means that despite all the efforts Halo Wars has no chance, whatsoever, compared to the big RTS-Franchises the PC has to offer. But of course that doesn’t mean that Ensembles newest game isn’t still a “pretty good” title.
  27. The lack of ability to expand bases beyond preset boundaries and a poor path finding and unit movement system however does not taint the overall experience which is enriched with a powerful story, action packed gameplay, great visuals and a fitting soundtrack that will grip Halo fans worldwide.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 391 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 53 out of 72
  2. Negative: 8 out of 72
  1. AndrewB.
    Mar 3, 2009
    Halo Wars is an incredibly well done console RTS. It doesn't strive to be StarCraft or C&C, it is a HALO game that focuses on battle Halo Wars is an incredibly well done console RTS. It doesn't strive to be StarCraft or C&C, it is a HALO game that focuses on battle strategy rather than micro management. Not only does this approach work because it's a HALO game (a series that is centered around the action of the battle), but because it makes the game playable as an RTS on a console rather than a PC. Full Review »
  2. Oct 29, 2012
    Halo Wars brings with it huge feelings of joy and sadness; the joy that comes with a fantastic and hugely immersive title, and the sadnessHalo Wars brings with it huge feelings of joy and sadness; the joy that comes with a fantastic and hugely immersive title, and the sadness that follows the closure of an epic studio on a high. The action orientated RTS may be light on the RTS aspects in some areas but that by no means detracts away from the gameplay in the slightest. It just gives you a unique experience. Definitely a must purchase for Halo fans, action fans and those who are turned on by a good story. Full Review »
  3. Sep 24, 2010
    Halo Wars fulfills Halo: Combat Evolved's origins as an RTS. Ensemble did a great job of simplifying the gameplay so you don't have to worryHalo Wars fulfills Halo: Combat Evolved's origins as an RTS. Ensemble did a great job of simplifying the gameplay so you don't have to worry on Micromanaging and concentrate on making strategic maneuvers. The multiplayer can have 3v3, which is pretty good and mostly the number of players goes above 10,000, probably more than Tom Clancy's EndWar. As for Campaign, the cutscenes are great, the music is great (thanks to Stephen Rippy), and has little easter eggs for Halo fans. But, it is short and the reason why it is short is because Microsoft cut the budget (Ensemble had plans for a Covenant campaign, probably featuring the Brute Chieftain since he isn't in the main campaign, but the budget was cut and it was scrapped). According to the Guiness Book of World Records 2010 Gamer's Edition, Halo Wars has sold over 1.21 million units making it the Best Selling Console Based RTS. Not bad, huh? And for all those people out there who don't like it because Bungie was not involved, here is an article on what Bungie has to say about it: For what it's worth, Halo Wars is an excellent addition to the franchise, but it leaves a lot of unanswered questions. In any case, this a great game any Halo fan should have as well as to introduce people to the RTS genre. Full Review »