Coffee Talk #42: Real-Time Strategy Games on Consoles

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, Allen Iverson starting his second life as a Sixer, scooter luggage, or Danica Patrick driving for JR Motorsports, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Real-time strategy games on consoles took a huge step in 2009. Ensemble Studios’ excellent Halo Wars set a new standard for the genre, while Double Fine’s Brutal Legend deceptively mixed RTS gameplay with adventure. It’s still a niche genre on home systems, but it’s possible that these two games have paved the way for future RTS successes on the PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360.

Halo Wars

Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that purists scoffed at the notion of first-person shooters on consoles. Gamers swore that they’d never abandon the pinpoint control of a keyboard and a mouse for a gamepad. Titles like GoldenEye 007 and Halo changed all of that, making shooters arguably the most popular type of games today.

Today I wanted to see what you thought of RTS games on consoles. Do you think they’ll ever be a big deal? Do you think that Halo Wars and Brutal Legend opened the doors for future titles, similar to how GoldenEye and Halo paved the way for all the great shooters available today? Or is the genre simply too complex to be controlled with a gamepad?

Author: RPadTV

44 thoughts on “Coffee Talk #42: Real-Time Strategy Games on Consoles”

  1. I think the genre is too complex for a gamepad. If the consoles would allow a usb mouse and keyboard or even wireless of each, then RTS games would be just as successful….barring the horrible dilemma of a small community since you can't play against people on PC, PS3, or whatever.

    BL was neat, but the RTS wasn't very strategic. Zerg here, zerg there, zerg everywhere.

    I just feel that on a gamepad, I can't survey the whole battlefield and micromanagement is damn near impossible. Example: SC64

  2. Both Halo Wars and Brutal Legend RTS is dumbed down for consoles. True RTS is all about micromanaging and mouse-moves per second… and that is just not possible on a console. You have no way to set camera way points, switching between groups is a huge challenge. Look at the Battle Reports for Starcraft II and some of the stuff that David Kim does. That guy is amazing, and he can build a successful base, research new units, and maneuver a scout around the map while having it weave in and out of the path of enemy expansions. You just can't do that with a controller.

  3. @Smartguy – I had a lot of trouble with BL until I remembered the old Starcraft lesson – When in doubt, Zerg them out.

  4. @ Larcenous

    Basically, you elaborated on the point I got from R Pad.

    The question was (even though they're "dumbed down") do they have a future like people said shooters didn't?

    My response:

    I have no f'n clue.

  5. 2 days ago, we were discussing stand up comedy

    ray reccommended eddie izzard, who i had heard of, but never actually heard anything from.

    Ive been spending parts of the last 2 days watching youtube clips, and i have to admit that i find eddie to be not only amusing, but terribly informative. I wouldnt say he was "dane cook funny" (oxymoron)…He seems to be one of the smartest comedians ive ever listened to, i especially liked the WW2 rant i found on youtube.

    thanks for the recommendation raymond

  6. I find it funny that people praise the most boring aspects of games. Like micromanaging, no one wants to take time away from the battle field to manage their farmers. Age of Empires broke away from their heavy emphasis on resources and Dawn of War made you fight over recourses in a much more war like manner. I actually find that Halo Wars (with its "dumbed down" resource management) is a much better multiplayer RTS than most of the recent RTS games, including Dawn of War.

  7. @Thunder – Eddie does Passive Research, where he sits on the couch and lets the research come to him. He is terribly informative, especially about topics like world religions and history. His grasp of the dawn of christianity is probably one of the best I have heard yet (they have both canabalism and vampirism at the birth of the new religion!)

  8. Idk, RTS might have a long way to go before being really accepted as a console game. I wanted to get CC: RA3 for my husband earlier this year when it was released (course since he works more then he games, it would have been in my possession faster haha), but when I downloaded the demo I might have been impressed buy the graphics and humor, but the controls to me felt sluggish and slow. We both agreed it would be better off to purchase as a pc game. Course later on I might get it for trophy sake lol.

    I would hope RTS games do good for console, it's just gonna need some tweaking.

  9. N8R;

    Where exactly is that magnet? I'm on my iPhone, and I can't quite make it out since the picture is so small on the screen. It kind of looks like… a tattoo… on a plumber maybe?


  10. @ Thundercracker

    I can't even see it yet on my end. I'd send him the full size, but I photoshopped it… i.e. cheated.

  11. @Sandrock – I praise it because I can't do it. I need it dumbed down because I just don't function at that high of a level when there is that much stuff to take care of. When it's something more focused, or when I have ample time to prepare, I can handle it. But spur of the moment, ala Zerg Rush, I flounder and die.

    It's those small things though that a lot of people actually find the most interesting and challening. Micromanaging is not fun, at least in my eyes, but having some friends who function in the high 300-400 mouse moves, they need that kind of resource managment to feel like they are in control.

  12. 3 cheers for the tramp stamp. Which reminds me I need more ink done.

    I have to praise the micromanagement process of a RTS. I have a hard time doing it to the fullest, but I try my best dammit. And that's what makes it fun. If you just send troops out to battle, that just seems boring w/o something else to keep you occupied.

  13. @N8R

    There is a tremendous difference between a shooter and an RTS. I hot key so many things in an RTS. I point and shoot with a shooter. I like a mouse and keyboard for a shooter still, but I'm not going to cry over a gamepad.

    I stand by my point earlier, without mouse and keyboard support, the genre can't make the transition to consoles.


    No doubt.

  14. @sandrock

    Squad reinforcement was a great way to build units in Dawn of War. I still like the micromanaging aspect of an RTS though. That said, I actually prefer the Red Alert (the original) and Starcraft style over something like Warcraft 3. The Hero element kind of hurt that game for me.

  15. @LarcenousLaugh

    I'd just prefer it if they could learn real strategies (in combat of cource). In most RTSs it turns into who can build the better army and not who can control their army better. In the first Dawn of War, I could stomp any one with in five minutes with resources on high because most players couldn't stop my scouts from sneaking into their base. (ie I dropped units in their base and toke out their HQ while they were busy securing resources across the map.)

  16. @ Cami

    I need more ink too.

    I think my next one is going to be "I reserve the right to record this interaction" on the outside of my forearm.

  17. @N8R

    thanks for the nofx ep, man, love the acoustic version of my orphan year. but asides from that, the whole ep is awesome. cant wait to see them next year again.


    i used to play a lot of red alert back when it got released for the psone. and i enjoyed halo wars so much. when the demo came out, i played it for 6 hours straight. i cant wait to play the full retail version, since my 360 just died again. hope microsoft doesnt send me another abomination 360.

  18. more on topic

    i grew up playing RTS's. starcraft introduced me to core gaming, while warcraft 3 (DOTA), introduced me to RPG multiplyer slaying action. im a little dissapointed that you guys dont play DOTA. :(

  19. 3 of my favorite games for the PC growing up were Sim City, Age of Empires, and Civilization. Since I've grown up and wandered from PC gaming I haven't really gotten back in to an RTS for some time. I doubt they'll ever see the popularity of the shooter genre because it actually takes skill to play them as opposed to shooters. (no offense to shooters but let's face it)

    I still like a little bit of strategy in my games but I can become bored if it is all about strategy. Dragon Age is a perfect example of a game where strategy is an important aspect but there's a lot more to the game as well. I'd like to see more RPGs like that on consoles.

  20. @Smartguy – watch some of the Korean StarCraft players go at it. I never really appreciated the whole competitive nature of RTSs until I saw some of their professional matches. Resource Managment is key, but watching them manage their base and then pull of some of the crazy feints and counter feints is just mind blowing.

    I think my favorite so far of the new SCII reports is in Battle Report 3. Towards the end of the match, David Kim, running the Protoss, throws a big force right up through the center of the map. The Zerg player counters with infestors, only then to find out that it was a ruse. David Kim had sent the main force into die while a smaller force got teleported into the back of two of the zergs outlying bases and completely decimated the zerg economy. He a similar thing in the 4th Battle Report with terran Ghosts

  21. you know what the biggest scam in the history of man is?

    hdmi cables

    i just broke mine, and had to go to kmart to get another, 40 bucks..thats FORTY bucks

    so after i got raped by the big k, i came home and purchased one on ebay for 4 bucks, and when the triad deliver my cable, i shall return to kmart with my receipt and tell them where they can put their 40 dollar cable

  22. @thundercracker You should always have a backup set. I think the cables I ordered from Amazon were less than $5 each. Next time use Amazon through my links instead of buying from the Triad. Ha!

  23. I personally don't like RTS games. That's my biggest problem with Brutal Legend. I feel that I was baited and switched. I hack-n-slashed in the demo but when I bought the game it was mostly about RTS. I just don't like RTS games, sorry.

  24. @Larcenous

    Those videos are crazy. I am not nearly that good. I honestly am looking forward to the single player more so than multiplayer with SC2. I like the SC story.

    Question: WIll you have to buy all 3 in order to keep playing multiplayer? Interesting. Also, will they be $60 each? I expect the first one to be 50-60…but the others should be expansion prices.


    Absolutely. I may have to replace my $4 hdmi cable every 18 months, but I consider that a deal still. I had a similar experience when I needed a DVI cable a few years back. I went to Circuit City, Bestbuy, and Office Depot…all wanted about $100 for one. I went to Walmart and found one for $15. Win.

  25. @RRODisHere You have a great point about the demo not reflecting a great deal of the gameplay. I was going to Coffee Talk that very matter (yes, I made Coffee Talk a verb) and ask Tim about it.

  26. I don't play RTSs much anymore since I quit PC gaming. I just don't feel like a console does all it should. They need to let me hook up a mouse and keyboard to my console and play the RTS that way. Its just too hard to launch massive overwhelming attacks from different points on the map all at once with a controller.

    On a side not: I just got back from renting all the new movies and I picked up FarCry (I assume a movie based on the first game). I doubt it will be very good.

  27. @Smartguy

    Nah I quit Netflix a while back when I realized I was only using it to watch old movies that I couldn't find at Hasting's anymore. I prefer to rent locally because it only cost $2 for new releases (providing you return them next day). Also netflix doesn't provide the volume I usually end up needing. 2 weeks ago I rented 8 new releases, returned all of them next day for my $2 credit.

  28. @Slicky – directed by Uwe Boll = not worth the film strip it's printed on. That man is the Ed Wood of the Modern Era, just with less make-up and a lot less of a cult following. There are little to no redeeming qualities to any of the titles that he has put out… in fact I can only think of one… and Kristina Loken was wrong for the part.

  29. @slicky

    damn. I have a hard time during the semester to find time to watch that many movies. Netflix is great for me since I can just put it in the mailbox. But I enjoy the streaming the most.

    Netflix actually stopped me from getting an AppleTV this christmas.

  30. @Shockwave – I loved Sim City. I think Sim City 2000 was my fav overall… but that was because I could hexedit the money and make it so I could just create what I pictured whenever I wanted, without worry of taxes or actual governing. I could play the actual game just fine, but I was much more into the creative aspect of city building.

  31. I just looked at the photo and it must be old. That isn't how the axe looks in the final product.

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