Hello my friends, my family, my loyal minions. It’s time for another Weekend Whammy and this week I’m talking about a few RTS games and celebrating the fact that Halo is coming to PC right about…er, now, actually. What a time to be alive, eh? The world might be going crazy but at least Halo is on PC. As always, though, let’s kick off with this week’s reviews.
Okay, first up was a review for Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts, a name I swear is just a bunch of words jammed together without actually meaning very much. Name aside, though, the actual game was surprisingly fun. The focus is obviously on sniping from afar, and the game excels when it sticks to that. I loved picking off guards from 500m away, carefully choosing my shots so that I could whittle away the defences without setting off an alarm. However, the stealth, close-quarters gunplay and story were all pretty bleh. All in all, a solid budget title.
The other review was for the excellent Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. I described it as a bonkers video game smoothie that somehow works. It seems the world agrees, too, because the sales numbers are impressive. According to EA, the company which once declared singleplayer games dead, it’s the faster selling Star Wars title to date.
And can we just take a moment to appreciate Respawn Entertainment? Over the span of five years they’ve put out four great games, one of which was a wholly new IP which then led to the massively successful Apex Legends. Now they’ve got a great Star Wars game to add to their portfolio. Keep on rocking, Respawn, you guys are doing awesome work.
There’s some fun new releases that I want to jump into this week, starting with the arrival of The Masterchief Collection on PC which is available on Gamespass as I type this. Well, it says the Masterchief “Collection” but right now it’s only actually Halo: Reach, because for some reason the rest of the Halo games will be slowly drip fed to us over the coming months. I can only assume it’s so that the multiplayer for each game will have enough people playing to actually function, whereas if the whole collection was put out there then people would be spread out across the various versions of multiplayer.
Anyway, the collection has been available since waaaaaaay back in 2014 on the Xbox One and the initial reaction was a little mixed thanks to a boat-load of bugs and technical hiccups. But today’s release marks the first time the Halo franchise has appeared on PC, and I’m pretty excited to play Reach at uber-framerates and up to 4k resolution. Apparently we can also expect other PC specific features like FOV adjustment, ultrawide support and more. Outside of these appear to be straight-up ports of the existing games, so don’t go expecting complete remasters for every single Halo title.
I actually still own the Halo: Reach statue that came in the special Collector’s Edition box. Yup, that’s how excited I was about Reach when it launched: I paid insane monies to get that giant box filled with goodies. The strange thing is that I wasn’t even much of a Halo fan at the time. But Reach was different because it was a spin-off, and that little bit of distance between Reach and the mainline games was apparently all I needed to properly jump aboard the Halo hype train. I sank hours and hours into the campaign, and then dozens upon dozens more into the manic multiplayer. Me and a friend became such an incredible 2-man team at SWAT where we would nail headshot after headshot. Just last year I jumped into Reach’s multiplayer at a gaming convention and was surprised to find that Reach is still firmly embedded in my muscle memory.
Outside of Halo there’s an awesome new strategy game in the form of Phoenix Point arriving. The exciting thing about Phoenix Point is that it comes from the mind of the man who designed the original X-Com. Of course, Firaxis Games ditched the hyphen and resurrected XCOM via two spectacular strategy games. So Phoenix Point is sort of like a chance to see how the original creator would have carried on the franchise, and it turns out that his vision is a lot like modern XCOM, actually. Considering I bloody love me some XCOM, though, I’m okay with.
But what am I playing right this moment? Well, after mentioning Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander last week I’ve gone on a bit of an RTS binge, kicking off with Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance. Y’know, I actually think Forged Alliance might be the best RTS around. It holds up so well even in 2019 thanks to the scale of its battles and the depth of its gameplay. But playing it now in 2019 is surreal, because back when Supreme Commander first launched I eagerly bought it and then couldn’t play the damn thing. My computer couldn’t handle it, and so over the years I gradually got to play it more and more. Me and my friend would team up to tackle the multiplayer, patiently dealing with the game chugging away while our weedy computers nearly killed themselves trying to run it all. Of course now I can go from zoomed in to zoomed all the way out with thousands of units on the screen while my computer barely works up a sweat. How times have changed.
From the massive to the more chilled I also wound up playing some Command & Conquer, specifically Red Alert 3 and Tiberium Wars. Both titles hold up well, which in many ways probably says more about how the RTS genre hasn’t actually evolved that much over the years. Whereas Supreme Commander is epic and huge, Command & Conquer is faster with a skirmish typically lasting 15-45 minutes. Comparatively, Supreme Command can last hours which is fine, but being able to fire up C&C and blitz through a match in under an hour is great for a lazy evening.
Thinking back over the past few years I feel like we’ve been missing a big RTS game in the vein of Supreme Commander or Command & Conquer. Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation came close at times, but it didn’t manage to capture the sheer scale and depth of Supreme Commander or the quickness of Command & Conquer. If you guys know of anything that might scratch that itch for me then drop a comment below.
Finally, I fired back up Company of Heroes and was once again blown away by just how good it is. Though it lacks the base building that I cherish so much in games like Supreme Commander it makes up for it in tactical depth. It’s note about huge armies colliding, it’s about smartly making use of your limited resources and troops, and the freaking the fuck out when a tank comes crashing through a nearby house and starts demolishing your vulnerable infantry.
While I was getting back into a few of these older RTS games I did stumble upon a little project I never knew existing: The Battle for Middle-Earth: Reforged. It’s a fan-made remaster of the fantastic Battle for Middle-Earth, an RTS game that I’ve been hoping and hoping that EA would dredge up and remaster, especially since it has such a lot of fans around the world. Since EA don’t seem inclined to do it, though, I hope that they’ll leave the Reforged project alone so that in time we might finally get a way to play Battle for Middle-Earth again.
That’s all for this week, my fine folks. Take care.