Halo Wars dropping March 3

Ensemble's sci-fi RTS swan song gets slightly delayed marching orders; Xbox 360-exclusive arrives in Europe Feb. 27, Japan Feb. 26.

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One month ago, Microsoft announced that Halo Wars would ship in February. Today, the software giant revealed it would miss its previously scheduled launch window…but only just. The Xbox 360-exclusive spin-off of the popular first-person shooter series will launch in North and South America on March 3, five days after its European launch on February 27. In Japan and Asia, localized versions of the game will go on sale February 26.

The Halo Wars: Special Edition.
The Halo Wars: Special Edition.

Given that 2001's Halo: Combat Evolved was originally conceived as an RTS, it seems odd Halo Wars is the first real-time strategy extension of the multiplatinum franchise. As in the main first-person shooter series, it will pit the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) against the Covenant, a multiracial empire of religious fanatics hell-bent on wiping humanity from the cosmos. Besides numerous units from the original series, the game features an in-depth storyline and locales from the various Halo novels. It is the final title from acclaimed Age of Empires developer Ensemble Studios, which Microsoft is shutting down.

In the US, the regular edition of Halo Wars, which is rated T for Teen, will sell for $59.99. A $79.99 special edition will also include the upcoming Mythic Map Pack for Halo 3, an extra in-game vehicle (the Honor Guard Wraith), six trading cards describing the game's leaders, a crew patch for the starship Spirit of Fire, and the Halo Wars: Genesis graphic novel. For more details on Halo Wars, check out GameSpot's recent hands-on preview.

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