Reviews

Review: Halo: Spartan Assault

Halo: Spartan Assault is Halo, and it is not. It’s also a mobile game, but again, it is not.

The first Halo offering on mobile devices (cause Halo Waypoint doesn’t count, guys and girls), Spartan Assault made its mid-July debut on Windows 8 equipped phones, tablets and PCs. A twin-stick shooter, the game is best suited on Microsoft’s new Surface tablet… but, let’s be honest: there’s not a lot of people with one of those.

I’m one of the (lucky) few that gets to enjoy Spartan Assault on the Surface, and it feels like the perfect choice for the game. Placing my two huge thumbs on my Nokia Lumia would have meant I’d be able to see about 1/3 of the screen, ridiculously massive phone or not. If you’ve a touchscreen monitor attached to your Win 8 PC, you’d simply look stupid driving the game on it. In that same vein, resorting to a keyboard and mouse for a twin-stick game is just short of criminal. A future update will allow controls via a wired 360 controller, but until that time, the Surface is the way to go. I’ve no idea why Microsoft and 343 wouldn’t have waited to release the game WITH that controls scheme, by the way.

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If you’ve played Halo Wars, you might be sceptical about an offshoot, non FPS Halo game. You needn’t be. Even as a twin-stick shooter, Spartan Assault captures the essence of the franchise and puts it into a top-down affair. You’ll be able to use headshots to one-shot Grunts. You’ll be forced to wear down the shields of Elites as they attempt the same on your MJOLNIR armour. Brutes come complete with their devastating Brute Shot weapon, and using it is just as fun as in its FPS format. Pretty much all of the vehicles, turrets, enemies and weapons from the main franchise make their way into the twin-stick shooter, providing for a ton of variety and strategy in a genre that’s usually more of the run-and-gun nature.

In fact, if you decide to rush in, guns blazing, you’ll suffer the same fate you would in a Halo FPS title – you’ll be destroyed in seconds. Just like in the main franchise, you’ll need to take cover at times to recharge your shields, or else suffer the consequences. As in the FPS, you’re much better off trying to take out Elites before finishing off weaker cannon fodder.

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The game has just one difficulty setting, but in true Halo fashion, you can set yourself a bigger challenge by activating a series of skulls. With skulls enabled, you’ll lose shield strength when firing, only be able to regain shielding through melee kills (yes, they made the cut, as did plasma and frag grenades) and more. As in the main franchise, scoring is enabled and more kills mean more XP to spend on armour abilities and weaponry. So many points equates to a different star tier, with your overall goal to obtain a gold star in each level.

Achievements are also attached to the game, and like the Halo FPS, challenge you to complete levels in a certain manner. The tried-and-true Vidmaster achievement makes its way to Spartan Assault, and let me tell you, it’s a bitch to obtain.

Which is how it should be.

Overall, there’s not much wrong with Spartan Assault. Like I said, the Surface is the place to play this game, if at all possible. If you’re on the fence about it, and only have a Windows 8 PC, it’s probably worth waiting until 360 controls are truly added before you make your purchase.



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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.

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