Halo Wars to be released early 2009

Halo fans were no doubt disappointed when the real-time srategy title was a surprising no-show at the Ensemble Studios press briefing on Monday. But all is well once more thanks for an updated fact sheet that has been released, indicating the game will be on our shelves in the first part of 2009.

The title is a prequel to Halo 1, which will see players commanding the armies of the UNSC warship “Spirit of Fire" in its initial encounters against the Covenant, an alien coalition threatening to obliterate mankind.

Designed from the ground up, exclusively for the Xbox, it brings console gamers a genre usually played on PC. In campaign mode the game will see you ordering both new and familiar units and vehicles from the Halo universe in the battle against the Covenant.

Online however, players can choose to command either the UNSC or Covenant in six-player battles, so if you fancy being a bad guy for a bit instead, you can be. Take your pick from Covenant units including the hardly friendly-sounding Grunts, Ghosts and Scarabs.

We'll let you know as and when we get a solid release date.