Starting out as an exclusive for Windows 8 and Windows Phone users, Halo Spartan Assault brings its top down shooter action to the Xbox One and Xbox 360. How well does the game fare and is it worthy of your time and the £12 entry asking price? Take a look at our video review for the full picture.
Halo Spartan Assault review:
Today we’re taking a look at the Microsoft exclusive Halo Spartan Assault which began life as a Windows 8 and Windows Mobile exclusive but has made the transition to the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Looking at the Xbox 360 version and the game thrusts players into a top down third person action shooter which takes away the mystery of the full games and throws in tons of simplistic non-stop shooting . The game is divided into six chapters with five relatively short missions per chapter. The mobile roots obviously showing through here from a design perspective.
All players have to do in typical Halo fashion is control the Spartan warrior with one stick and aim with the other. There are familiar elements such as tossing grenades, using turrets, collecting power up abilities and swapping the two weapons you’re allowed to carry at a time on the fly, and even sections where vehicles can be commandeered or taken for spin. It all works well as expected, but somewhere something is lost in this top down iteration of the first person shooter. Whilst a similar view was used in the spin off RTS game Halo Wars, in this instance, there’s a distinct detachment from the characters and their enemies. Between chapters there’s a bit of back story to pay attention to, but this doesn’t detract from the basic element of simply moving around the small maps with the tiny Spartan and killing anything that moves.
To make things more interesting, players can add skull modifiers to their game to earn more XP and this does up the challenge suitably. However, there’s no difficulty setting overall, so performing runs using the much revered Legendary setting are out of the question here. There’s also an underlying theme of competing with the wider online community with the inclusion of leaderboards, but these seem tied to the unusual aspect of having to spend real cash or acquired XP on boosters. It’s a shame there’s no leaderboard which puts everyone on an even footing.
In terms of looks, the game captures the feel of the Halo with some neat background effects and characters that are familiar interspersed with some impressive imagery. But as mentioned, the enemy’s menace and size are downplayed due to the far distance of the camera. A bit more variety across the environments would have been well received as well, but what is on offer provides enough distinction across its five campaigns to remain interesting shooting grounds.
The audio, as expected is of a high quality, with its subtle menu music and in-game sound effects that are staple for the series. It’s clear at least, effort has been placed to make the game sound as good as expected although there are one too many repeated phrases from the in-game AI team mates which can grate after a while.
In terms of longevity, there’s a short game to wade through for single players where an afternoon of solid play will finish the campaign. The added incentive for replay is to maximize ones score on each level and obtain a gold star award and try and obtain the game’s elusive achievements and Spec Op challenges. Again, the aforementioned boosters can be used to good effect to accomplish this, and thankfully, players can spend their XP instead of real money if they choose.
Beyond the solo offering, players can team up online and tackle some additional co-op missions. There’s an easy option to invite a friend, aside from using the game’s find a player which can take some time to connect. The missions are short and sweet and feature the ominous Flood characters in a survival scenario.
Halo Spartan Assault is a neat game which captures the look and feel of Halo and drenches it in a bite sized game that is short on anything taxing. It has a real pick up and play hook to it and works well in context of being available for a short blast here and there. For those looking for something deeper, will be a little disappointed, but as an arcade shooter it does provide suitable no frills gaming.
Despite its rather short campaign, there’s a solid game here that’s worth checking out whether you’re a fan of Halo or not. The simplistic gameplay does work in its favour to some degree, and whilst we could have wished for something a little more engaging the charm of shooting up familiar enemies never gets old.
Score 8/10 – Review by Robert Cram