Review

Halo: Spartan Assault was a title that had me wondering why the heck Microsoft release a Halo game for Windows 8 Phones and Tablets, but not for Xbox 360? It still has me wondering why it wasn’t released on Xbox 360 and only recently for the Xbox One, but it was a title that interested me as I am a fan of Halo and twin stick shooters.  Can this “phone game” transfer over well to a console experience?

The story happens to be a story within a story and takes place on the UNSC Infinity. You are a Spartan trainee and are training on a simulator learning about a historical story that takes place during the times of Halo and Halo 3.  Using the “tablet” you have been given as a trainee, you follow Spartan Palmer and Spartan Davis and the battles they lead on an invaded planet and nearby moon. There you learn what happened during their battles and take part in the battles yourself in the simulator and, of course, learn what it takes to be a Spartan. As an added bonus there after missions, called Operation Hydra, that takes place after your historical lesson, but this time Spartan Palmer completes the story with her telling of what happened directly after her mission.  Editor’s Note: This tablet/trainee worked well on the Windows 8 Phone and tablet platform because it made you, the player, actually feel like you were the Spartan Trainee holding the tablet given to you and experiencing these historical battles in the simulator. It was very meta.

Halo Spartan Assault Screen (4)

Visually, Halo Spartan Assault embodies the Halo universe very well with all things UNSC and Covenant looking quite familiar: the Marines, Scorpions, Rhinos, Elites, Grunts, Jackals, and Brutes.  It should be noted that this title deviates from the core first person shooter look of the standard Halo title and takes on the top down approach for your gameplay experience. With that in mind, the terrain, be it just a bunch of rocks, military bases, or the surface of a moon, all look and feel like Halo.  I commendable the developers on how they have successfully captured the essence of Halo in this not-so-standard Halo game.   Much like the visual experience, we are given the full Halo experience through the ambiance, with music and sound effects that make a Halo game coming out perfectly; needles from the Needler flying through the air; grunts screaming in fear as they run away; and explosions from your trusty grenades making that all familiar impact & boom.  Overall, however, I wouldn’t necessarily call the Halo Spartan Assault a “next-gen” game and feel as though this title would do just as well on Xbox 360 as it does on Xbox One.

Halo Spartan Assault Screen (7)

Halo Spartan Assault, as mentioned previously, is not a first person shooter, but a twin-stick shooter with a top down, isometric view.  Basically, you move with one stick and aim with the other. Other buttons allow you to switch weapons, throw grenades, shoot your weapon and use your special armour abilities – all the usual stuff you would find in Halo.  When I first jumped into playing Halo Spartan Assault, the gameplay experience was a lot of fun.  The levels took anywhere from 5-10 minutes to play with a wide ranging degree of difficulty.  As I played more and more of the title, however, it became extremely repetitive, not very challenging at all and annoying at the quickly stagnating gameplay.  The strategy could be summarized as “run in and kill everything as quickly as possible.”  There were only a few levels that offered any difficulty at all: one dealing with vehicles and the other being the final boss of the core game itself that took me a few tries to complete.  It should be mentioned that each level comes with starter weapons and, of course, you can swap out for different ones during the mission, but there is a micro-transaction component in the game that is extremely annoying.  You can buy things like weapons, boosts (experience, shields) and armour abilities.  They can be purchased with your hard earned money or by earning experience within the game as you progress through levels. The experience I earned by doing one complete playthrough was enough to buy two of these upgrades and the upgrades themselves were one shot uses. If you die or complete the level the upgrade doesn’t carry over which became an extreme disappointment if you completed a short level and had ammo left over. This type of transaction may have worked on mobile devices but doesn’t work at all with the Xbox Marketplace.

Halo Spartan Assault should have stayed with the mobile devices as it doesn’t hold up on the console as a great twin stick shooter.  The one dimensional tactics, the last gen graphics, and the horrible micro-transactions make this a poor Halo title and diminishes this great franchise.  Unless you are the biggest Halo fan in the world, I would steer clear of this title and wait for the next FPS Halo to come out in the future.

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About the Author

John
John has been a gamer for years and can often be heard reminiscing of the old days playing the Nintendo family of systems with his buddies growing up. With a bustling family of five, finding time to game is often tricky but luckily his family shares his passion for gaming. John is active in several gaming communities and can be found on Twitter and Xbox Live as JohnnyXeo.