Halo Wars marches to next year

Out first half of 2009, says Microsoft.

Microsoft has said Halo Wars will be released during the first half of 2009.

The Ensemble Studios-developed real-time strategy title was a notable absentee from the Redmond giant's E3 2008 press briefing last night, but an updated fact sheet on the game indicates that we'll see the 360 exclusive on store shelves before next summer. We expect to see it in some form at E3 this week.

Set before the events of Halo 1, the game kicks off on the planet Harvest, where the UNSC warship, the Spirit of Fire, comes under Covenant attack following the discovery of an ancient artefact.

Designed from the ground-up for console play, the game's campaign mode will see you order about familiar units and vehicles from the Halo universe including Warthogs, Scorpions and more. During the campaign, you will also be able to call upon "ancient Forerunner technology" to create "unique units".

Online, Halo Wars promises six-player battles and the choice of commanding either the UNSC or Covenant, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Covenant units will include Grunts, Elites, Ghosts and Scarabs. The blighters.

Ensemble Studios is famed for its work on the Age of Empires series, and is making Halo Wars exclusively for Xbox 360.

Look out for our thoughts on Halo Wars as well as new screenshots. You can find the E3 2008 trailer here.

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