Concept art for Halo Wars 3 has been released, revealing cancelled pitch material.
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The original Halo Wars ends by putting itself in stasis, with the human warship Spirit of Fire coasting through void - its crew forced into cryosleep, its ultimate relation to the rest of the saga left open for debate. The in-game explanation for this uncertain denouement is the loss of the vessel's Faster Than Light drive. The creative rationale was perhaps Bungie's intense ambivalence about handing the keys to its universe over to Ensemble, developer of the Age of Empires games. Packed with all the floaty jeeps and energy swords a Halo fan could wish for, the plot of Halo Wars nonetheless sits at a careful remove from the numbered Halos, offering a separate cast and events that, for all their dizzying import, never quite overlap with the antics of Master Chief and co. Fast-forward to 2017, and even as the robust-looking Halo Wars 2 approaches release, there's the sense that the Spirit of Fire's fate has become that of Halo as a whole - a mass of trailing story threads and lost souls, waiting for somebody to give it a heading.
Microsoft has added another three Xbox 360 games to the Xbox One's backwards compatibility list: Halo Wars, SoulCalibur 2 HD Online and King of Fighters '98.
As Microsoft sets out to reinvent Halo yet again with Halo 5: Guardians - festooning Master Chief's crenelated bulk with jumpjets and pop-out holographic reticules, like a long-serving plastic Christmas tree - it's worth digging up the last game to take similarly drastic yet successful liberties with Bungie's old action sandbox. Ensemble's Halo Wars rumbled onto shelves at a comfortable time for Xbox, a year or so ahead of the first Kinect sensor, and was spared the pressures and mammoth sales targets of a core numbered Halo. But in other respects, the project's challenges leave Halo 5's in the shadow.
The people behind the Dawn of War and Company of Heroes real-time strategy games have got an idea for how to do the genre right on console - but they're keeping it a secret for now.
Update: In addition to the daily deals there are a collection of week-long deals. They've been dug up by the handsome people of NeoGAF.
UPDATE: The BBC has responded to its broadcast of a Halo logo during Thursday's News at One, admitting its mistake and apologising to viewers.
It's a big year for Bungie. Not only does it celebrate its 20th birthday but, with the impending release of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, it's also formally signing off custodianship of Master Chief to 343 Industries.
Microsoft will mark Halo's 10th anniversary with Halo Fest, a three day event taking place during the annual Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle this August.
Billed as "the largest and most expansive live Halo experience ever" over on Halo Waypoint, you can expect tournaments, exclusive panels and prizes.
Could it also see a new Halo title announced? Perhaps that rumoured remake of Combat Evolved?
Microsoft has abolished plans to wipe away the Halo Wars online statistics after a passionate response from gamers.
In this new series of opinion pieces, some of Eurogamer's favourite writers reveal how they really feel about some of the world's most renowned, or most reviled, videogames.
Why is Microsoft closing the Halo Wars forums and getting rid of the game's online stat tracking? So that Halo Wars can move under the Halo Waypoint umbrella.
A former Bungie developer has claimed that Apple was on the verge of buying the Halo developer just before Microsoft did back in the late nineties.
Microsoft has made Halo Wars available through the Games on Demand bit of Xbox Live Marketplace.
Microsoft has made two new additions to the Classics collection of Xbox 360 software.
Upcoming Xbox Live destination Halo Waypoint will be broken in two sections, one focusing on Intel and the other on Career.
Around 2.5 million people have snapped up Halo 3: ODST in the two weeks since it was released.
That's according to USA Today, which also reports the expansion pack has generated over $125 million in sales and brought the total number of Halo games sold to 27 million.
But what about the rest of the Halo franchise? Any sign of that movie? "We're being very careful to pick the right time and the right partner," said creative director Frank O'Connor. No, then.
Steven Spielberg is in negotiations to develop a Halo movie, according to a report by IESB.
Robot Entertainment has revealed that all Halo Wars leaderboards have accidentally been wiped and may now be lost forever.
Microsoft has said Peter Jackson's Halo project isn't in the bin after all - it's just "on hold".
Peter Jackson has confirmed the Halo project he first announced nearly three years ago is in the bin.
Good news, Halo buffs - Microsoft is launching a new "destination" on Xbox Live especially for you.
Microsoft is working on a series of seven short anime films titled Halo Legends.
Microsoft has announced that Halo Wars will receive another infusion of premium downloadable content this month with the release of the Historic Battles pack on 21st July for 800 Microsoft Points (GBP 6.80 / EUR 9.60).
Microsoft, Robot Entertainment or whoever has updated the Halo Wars website with news of an upcoming Title Update that re-balances units and fixes a few bugs.
The update should be released "in a few weeks" and follows on from May's Strategic Options DLC, which introduced three new game modes.
Check out the changelog below for the full list of changes. Do you like the word changelog? Bit tinny.
Microsoft has released the Strategic Options DLC for Halo Wars.
Microsoft has unveiled the first add-on for Halo Wars titled Strategic Options, which is due sometime in the "coming weeks" and offers three new modes and four new Achievements.
Robot Entertainment is promising to fix Halo Wars in an upcoming title update.
Microsoft says Halo Wars has sold over 1 million copies worldwide, making it the most successful console RTS this generation.
The Ensemble-developed Xbox 360 exclusive launched at the end of February and received solid critical applause.
Since then, more than 2.6 million multiplayer matches have taken place, totalling more than 118 years in playtime. On average, 200,000 people face off in Halo Wars multiplayer every day.
Microsoft has coughed up an undisclosed amount of money to tech firm PalTalk, settling a lawsuit over the Halo games.
Killzone 2 has sealed Sony's first UK All-Formats number one since God of War II's release nearly two years ago, becoming the fourth-fastest-selling Sony-published game ever in the UK.
The strange thing about Halo Wars is how understated it all seems. How dignified. There are so many ways that Halo Wars is an important game - it's real-time strategy on console, it's Halo in a new genre, it's Ensemble's swansong, it's another blow in the console wars - but while they could easily dominate your thoughts as you play it, they don't. Instead they just evaporate in the face of such a confident, self-assured and elegantly constructed videogame.
It lacks a little flair at times, but Ensemble has always excelled with this kind of small-c conservative design. If you look at the recent trend of RTS on consoles - taking in everything from the forthcoming Stormrise by Creative Assembly to Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's EndWar - Ensemble's game is most like the traditional RTS. Tweaks for the format are small, but meaningful, and they mostly work. Anyone who's played PC RTS has had a tendency to look on console incarnations as though it's sex with a couple of condoms on, but Ensemble's got it down to one extra-thick Durex: awkward, but still fun.
Halo Wars is also rather neat because it's an RTS prequel to a series originally conceived as an RTS. As expected, it tells the story of armed conflict between the Covenant, the UNSC and The Surprise Guest Oh I Wonder Who They Could Be. The story's not told particularly well, and isn't directly relevant to the game's charms, but it's an excuse to cram all your favourite bits of Halo's universe into an RTS: if you've shot it, shot in it, stole it or been annoyed by it while making your way through the Library, and if those events took place in a Halo game, you'll find it here, converted into an RTS, but working just as expected.
Robot Entertainment, a new Texan game developer created by many of the original founders of Ensemble Studios, has confirmed that it is working on downloadable content for Halo Wars.
Sony has confirmed the Killzone 2 demo will be available later today.
Ensemble Studios boss Bruce Shelley has written a fond farewell to fans in what will probably be his last blog post for the company.
Microsoft has announced the third map in the upcoming Halo 3 Mythic Map Pack, which also ships as part of the Halo Wars collector's edition later this month.
Microsoft Game Studios has a "lot of ideas" for future Halo Wars content, and said that the new studio created by former Ensemble employees will help.
Microsoft Game Studios hopes to expand the Halo franchise in "many different directions", including new genres and entertainment not game-related at all.
Microsoft has detailed the contents of the 5th February demo for Halo Wars, and said it will be available from 9am GMT.
The demo will include optional beginner and advanced tutorials to help you get to grips with Ensemble's take on RTS-for-console controls.
After that, or straight away if you prefer, you can then play through the first two missions from the story mode.
Peculiar bedfellows, perhaps? There was always going to be a clash somewhere in this year's Coming Attractions as we sorted our way through 12 categories, but you could argue there's more that unites fighting and strategy than divides them. Both are about trying to take maximum of advantage of your opposition's weaknesses, both reward patience, concentration and consideration, and as of Red Alert 3 both have a thing for impractical women's clothing.
More droplets of news trickle out of Microsoft's rather dry CES keynote address in Las Vegas last night: Xbox 360 strategy spin-off Halo Wars is to get a demo on 5th February (as reported by IGN and GameSpot).
Microsoft has confirmed exact release dates for its 360 strategy game, Halo Wars - and the original prediction of February was only half-right.
Halo Wars will release in Japan and Asia on February 26th, in Europe on February 27th and in North and South America on March 3rd.
Pre-order the game at a participating retailer and you'll get an exclusive in-game Warthog with flame decals, whether you buy the Limited Edition or not.
Microsoft Game Studios boss Phil Spencer may "break the bank" at E3 next year by talking about Xbox 360 titles further than five or six months away.
Sumthing Else Music Works and Microsoft have decided stuff all of the Halo music onto a massive compilation soundtrack.
Ensemble Studios has revealed that the Halo MMO it was developing for Microsoft wasn't just a prototype - it had been green-lit for production.
Smoke on the warthog.
They're not messing about. Graeme Devine is in charge of the storyline of this new branch to the Halo franchise, and he's bold as a tin cockerel when he's asked about the Halo Wars mission. "What Halo did for first-person shooters, Halo Wars is going to do for real-time strategy. I absolutely think that. Because we've made it from the ground up for 360, and we didn't have to think about keyboard and mouse, and worry about whether we're going to have to port it to the PC. This game plays better than any PC real-time strategy game with a controller."
Microsoft plans to release Halo Wars next February, in both Standard and Limited Collector's Edition guise.
The latter is chock full of extras, according to Microsoft's Gamerscore blog. Included will be early access to the Mythic Map Pack for Halo 3, bizarrely, featuring the Assembly, Orbital and Sandbox areas.
There's also the Halo Wars: Genesis comic book created by lead game designer Graeme Devine, Halo novel writer Eric Nylund, and artist Phil Noto. This book adds some backstory to the Covenant interest in the world of Harvest.
Speculation is mounting that the new trailer for Bungie's next Halo project features a reference to missing five year-old Madeleine McCann.
The trailer, released yesterday, has since been the subject of widespread analysis on the internet, as reported by Videogaming247.
Apparently the message "MADDIE, WHERE ARE YOU?" appears in three frames of the video. A debate has now kicked off over whether this is a reference to the missing girl, who disappeared in May 2007.
Ensemble Studios boss Bruce Shelley said he was shocked when Microsoft decided the developer would close following the completion of its work on Halo Wars.
Microsoft may have announced plans yesterday to shut down Ensemble Studios when Halo Wars ships, but Age of Empires fans are told not to worry!
Microsoft will shut down Ensemble Studios once Halo Wars ships early next year.
Most big, modern games are, of necessity, a team effort - so much so that it's often hard to ascribe any particular part of the experience to one person. In the Halo series, for instance, all manner of people contributed to the games, and for the most part, you'd be hard pressed to pick out a great moment and say, "this person made this". It's a team effort. Everyone's fingers are in all sorts of pies, and every pie has all sorts of fingers in it.
Microsoft's getting pretty good at not announcing Halo games. Not only did it not announce a new Bungie one at E3, but within the very same conference it managed to overlook Halo Wars completely. Given that Ensemble Studios' ambitious spin-off strategy game for Xbox 360 was announced in 2006, that raises serious questions about how long we'll have to wait to play it.
More than three months after the first job ad appeared, Microsoft is still seeking a creative director for a new Halo project.
Bungie AI boffin Damian Isla reckons Ensemble Studios has "really understood what things Halo is known for", claiming Halo Wars will be top drawer.
The next big step for artificial intelligence in games will be making a character walk up to a table and pick up a pencil.
Xbox 360 boss Don Mattrick has confirmed that Bungie is making a new Halo game.
Microsoft has said Halo Wars will be released during the first half of 2009.
Microsoft plans to give us a look at Halo Wars during the upcoming July E3 event, as well as reveal more about headline-grabber Gears of War 2.
Halo Wars is to sport a trendy co-operative campaign for you and a friend; the same feature boasted about for Red Alert 3 not so long ago.
Shane Kim, Microsoft's vice president of winding up the internet, has said the company still has some tricks up its sleeve and that people shouldn't worry about the absence of Halo Wars and Alan Wake from last week's showcase event.
"There are other things in the pipeline that we are not talking about yet that I'm pretty excited about as well," he told assembled press when asked about the duo's absence. "So it definitely gives us the opportunity not to have to rush things."
Although the showcase event, held in San Francisco, was understood to be a roundup of more or less all the company's 2008 titles - including previously unannounced Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts - Kim's comments are likely to rekindle curiosity about rumours like the Wii remote equivalent ahead of E3 2008, where the company is likely to have a significant presence.
Bungie has said it's ever so excited to see what Peter Jackson can make of its Halo universe.
Microsoft Game Studios boss Shane Kim has confirmed that the Marvel Universe MMO has been canned.
Last week, you may recall, we put on our robe and wizard hat for a look at this year's most promising RPGs. We've done shooters, racers, action adventure and sports games too, if you missed any of those.
Microsoft has denied a report that it is developing a PC version of Halo Wars.
Mexican film director Guillermo Del Toro has been getting himself all worked up about a Halo film.
Master strategy from Ensemble.
Microsoft's ambition to get a big-budget Halo movie into cinemas has taken a knock this week, with film studios Universal and Fox pulling out of the deal they had struck with the software giant after a last-ditch attempt to renegotiate terms was rebuffed.
Ensemble Studios' real-time strategy 360 title set in Bungie's elaborate sci-fi universe was the biggest surprise of this week's X06 - and a top Microsoft exec has let slip that Halo Wars has been specifically created to appeal to our European gaming chums.