In an odd twist of fate, Microsoft decided to release a twin-stick shooter modeled after the Halo universe exclusively for Windows 8 devices. Not only will this be the first Halo game without a console counterpart, but it's also one of the only Windows 8 exclusive games in existence, and the first Halo PC iteration since Halo 2.
This sounds like a recipe for disaster, but you know what? If you can somehow actually manage to play the thing, it's not all that bad.
Halo: Spartan Assault (Microsoft Surface, Windows Phone 8, Windows 8 PC [reviewed]) Developer: 343 Industries / Vanguard Games Publisher: Microsoft Studios Released: July 18, 2013 MSRP: $6.99
Before I get started, I should mention for the purposes of this review I tested the PC version of the game as I didn't have access to the mobile touch version on phones and tablets.
With that out of the way, Spartan Assault takes place in-between Halo 3 and 4, with the fate of Master Chief currently a mystery. You play the role of Commander Sarah Palmer (voiced by the always stellar Jennifer Hale) alongside of Spartan Davis, as you engage on smaller missions battling the Covenant.
To be blunt, this is a gaiden (side story), as the general plot isn't really that poignant in terms of the impact it has on the Halo universe. If you're a Halo junkie you may enjoy the injection of extra lore here and there, but for the most part, casual fans won't find any "must see TV" on offer. As someone who has played every major Halo game but doesn't engage in the extended universe material, I didn't find it essential in any way.
Spartan Assault, like many twin-stick shooters, features a very simple mission structure. Amidst a collection of cutscenes, you'll be dumped into a series of levels with varying objectives, like escorts, kill quests, and so on. To mix things up, you can jump into turrets and vehicles on occasion, just like the core series, but levels are generally linear in nature with a clear-cut goal in mind. Everything is designed in such a way where you won't die repeatedly, and objectives are pretty clear.
Vanguard Games, the developer of the underrated Gatling Gears, seem to have handled most of the twin-stick mechanics, and they work great. It's still the same classic Halo two-gun, grenade, and melee system, but it works naturally here in Spartan Assault.
You'll move your character around with WASD movement, and you'll use the mouse to aim and fire, with the option to use armor abilities like stealth and sprinting. Other than the occasional clunky vehicle excursion, the controls mostly work, but I found myself longing for controller support, with the ability to lounge and play the game on my TV.
Wait, no controller support? You mean, this "twin-stick" shooter doesn't make use of a controller with two actual sticks? Yep, Microsoft decided to ship the game without support for an Xbox 360 controller, which I would have appreciated in lieu of a mouse and keyboard setup given the lack of looting and other advanced mechanics. A patch is supposedly coming at some point to add said control option, but for now, you're stuck with a mouse and keyboard.
After you're done with the five act, 25 mission campaign, that's about it as far as content goes. There's sadly no real multiplayer to speak of yet, but the game does have Achievements, weekly challenges, and there's leaderboard support. In true Halo campaign fashion "Skulls" (handicaps) can be turned on to alter the experience, and in turn, earn more XP.
Microtransactions are kind of just there. You can earn most of the game's armory offerings through straight XP and progression, but some can only be bought with real money. While it's a bit off-putting, thankfully the game can be easily completed without spending any real money, and as a result, real money transactions are mostly just a minor distraction.
Spartan Assault is a fairly weird release in general. Not only does it feel like it could have been a completely new IP, but I'm not sure who the audience is, given the strong console allegiance of the Halo franchise. But despite its lack of any remarkable or "must have" features, it still manages to be a fairly decent top-down shooter.
It's by no means Windows 8's killer app, but provided you have access to a Windows 8 device, you could do much worse than Spartan Assault.
Likable - That's a seven, which is actually a different number than five. It's more than ok. We like this game. I don't want to play it every day forever and ever, but it's definitely worth the time I invested in it, and I'll be picking it up again to relive the fun sometime down the line.
Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.
Pixie The Fairy I was just accosted by the most gorgeous cosmetics saleswoman with an adorable Hatian-Creole accent. It's not often my attention gets that immersed in a total bullshit sales pitch. Well, that and I didn't want her to let go of my arm.Cosmonstropolis My son just washed my Majora's Mask NEW 3DS because the screen was dirty. Bahahaha *cries uncontrollably*Flegma Ever thought of skipping a console generation (and not upgrading PC for years, either) because of how big your pile of shame is? I'm doing that just now.Tenzan Apparently there are cancellations on the CE versions of MGSV:TTP from Europe and North America. People getting emails saying they are cancelled and such. On top of that is that there's been unboxings that don't have the extras for the Day One edition. OverlordZetta I've been mad at myself all morning for missing the apostrophe in "I'll" on my Quickpost last night, but it turns out that apostrophes just don't show up on the feed! Isn't that the bee's knees?Perro Playing through Skies of Arcadia Legends right now. Bringing this to Steam or current gen in HD seems like a no-brainer. Make it so, Sega!Kris S Fassbender looks awesome. A not shit game adaption? We will seeNathan D Just found out that Third Impact in The End of Evangelion took place on my birthday. I'm freaking out right now. Jiraya Man at Arms did the Geralt Witcher's Swords !
[youtube]https://youtu.be/HJZekaPAd_M[/youtube]StriderHoang 3:16 MIKA, DO YOU SMELL WHAT THE BOW IS COOKING?Virtua Kazama Welcome back to Street Fighter, Rainbow Mika! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbDSvRMc9rQpixelrock Jumpy Wall, my first game, is coming to the iOS App Store this September [img]http://i.imgur.com/oHAWJuC.gif?1[/img]
See the trailer [youtube]https://youtu.be/Q1GKzQTiDtY[/youtube] or [url="http://jumpywall.com"]jumpywall.com[/url] for more.Cosmonstropolis Looking for a good book? Defending Jacob by William Landay is fantastic. Couldn't put it down. Jiraya Have you played Vampire Hunter D on Ps1 ?
A cool game , very hard last boss.StriderHoang Please be gentle Shiek. I want a character who's actually good at neutral for once.Shinta [youtube]https://youtu.be/SivYdHmSBc0[/youtube]
Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes. I am loving this lol. Supposedly will be on Grimes' next album.OverlordZetta [url="http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2015/08/rumour_fresh_sources_suggest_shovel_knight_is_indeed_digging_his_way_to_super_smash_bros"]Exciting rumors of Shovel Knight arriving in Smash have surfaced![/url] Get those salt shakers ready!Niero Desu Mr. Cordoba knows a lot about CSS, so I asked him to give us a touch-up job. Here's an early sneak peek at the next big Dtoid update: Drop us a note in the comments! [url]http://www.raulcordoba.com/dtoid/[/url]OverlordZetta I'll never get how making an inanimate object or a plant look like an animal or just alive somehow is considered more "out of ideas" than just an animal being an animal. That seems more like the opposite of being "out of ideas" to me. Pixie The Fairy I don't hate spiders because they look weird and scary, but because they put their webs in places I commonly walk through. It gets all over my face and hair and getting it out makes me look crazy to everyone else.