The Halo franchise was always very clearly going to be a big presence on the Xbox One. It did, afterall, make its presence known with a teaser at E3 2013. So we figured Halo “5” would be the debut of the franchise on the system. Not true. Instead, Halo makes a top-down debut with Halo: Spartan Assault, a port of the mobile game.
What Is It?
Halo: Spartan Assault is set between the events of Halo 3 and Halo 4, presented in a similar fashion to the War Games mode in Halo 4. UNSC Infinity AI Roland puts you into the boots of Spartans Davis or Sarah Palmer to relieve the battles they fought against a group of rogue Covenant forces.
A majority of the story is told through a couple paragraphs worth of briefings prior to each mission. In total, there are 35 single player missions to play through, with each mission lasting anywhere between 5-10 minutes.
Why Should I Care?
If you bought the Windows 8 version, you’ll be familiar with what’s offered here. Spartan Assault is a third-person, top-down shooter that you can easily drop in and out of. The Xbox One version maintains the very mobile feel and it works quite well. So anybody with around 20 minutes to kill has the perfect game to load up.
It’s not a very complicated game. Mission selection will allow you to specify which weapons, armor abilities, boosters and Skulls you enter with. A majority of the time, you do not need to make any changes. You’ll be ok with the default weapon selection and no boosters. Any changes are going to cost you experience points or credits. XP will be earned through mission completions, but credits will need to be purchased. I’m not overly familiar with the microtransactions from the mobile version, so I’m not sure of the exact difference between that version and this version. The microtransactions here don’t seem too bad, as they are easily avoided.
Once in a mission, it’s a simple point-and-shoot mentality mixed with typical Halo gameplay. It feels familiar and comfortable, despite being third-person. The targeting system has some issue, as using the right stick to aim can be a bit tricky to get a deadlock on a target at times. Overall, it can be decently accurate and won’t be too much of a concern. Land-based vehicles can also be used and work pretty well too. Tanks tend to be a bit tricky to control and I ended up driving them backwards most of the time. Luckily, the targeting system helps alleviate that concern and allows you to hit targets anyway.
With the move to Xbox One, Halo: Spartan Assault is able to offer multiplayer support. With it brings the ability to fight the Flood. However, as of review time, I was unable to connect with any players to actually test out any of the multiplayer features. Considering connections were fine elsewhere in the game, I’ll have to chalk this up to a lack of available players at the time.
What Makes It Worth My Time and Money?
Spartan Assault started off kind of slow, which made me initilyal feel as though the $15 price tag was a bit steep. But as the game progressed and the challenges increased in (mostly) good ways, it proved its worth. The inclusion of multiplayer makes the price tag a bit more worth it, but it would be nice if connecting to players was a bit easier. If you’ve bought the game already on a Windows 8 platform, you’ll be able to get this for $5, which would definitely be worth it.
I was pleased with how well Spartan Assault was able to capture the spirit of “regular” Halo games and package it in this format. There was no learning curve and if I need to get in a bit of a Halo fix, I can load this up with little hassle. It also doesn’t feel like a cheapened version of the franchise. Halo: Spartan Assault is an enjoyable installment and more than a supplementary adventure.