WP / Xbox One / W8 review: “Halo: Spartan Assault”

Posted: 2014/06/08 in Indie Games

There are no shortage of “Halo: Spartan Assault” reviews out there, but I suspect relatively few reviewers have played it on “phone”, “tablet/desktop/laptop”, and “console”. Hey, it should have made the list of “Games I’ve Bought Twice” (or more).

But I have played it on all of the above. I first purchased it on Windows 8 for use on my Microsoft Surface, but that also gave me access to it on my laptop and my desktop as well. The tablet controls were credible, but a post-release update later and I was able to play it with a wired Xbox 360 controller and that was a big improvement. As for the game itself, it again proved how adaptable the Halo universe is to different genres. Whether it’s the first-person shooters that Halo is best known for, “Halo Wars” which ranks as the best-selling console real-time strategy game ever made (over 2 million copies sold), or now top-down twin-stick shooters, these games all manage to feel “Halo” somehow. I think a lot of it is the music, the sound effects, and in having to make choices as to what weapons you take and what you leave behind, but whatever it is those “Halo moments” are there such as piloting human vehicles and jacking alien ones.

Crossing genres is nothing new for Halo. The game that became “Halo: Combat Evolved” first started its development as an RTS, and then became a third-person shooter, and finally an FPS, so even in development Halo crossed three genres.

“Spartan Assault” on Windows Phone is nearly identical to the Windows 8 version’s touch controls, just understandably slightly less accurate due to the smaller screen. That said, it controlled pretty well. I did find that the phone heated up a fair bit while playing, as I imagine it’s cranking everything up to high gear. Battery life suffered, as is common when playing a high-end game on a smartphone, but the game is smartly based around short moments that let you checkpoint regularly.

Then the Xbox One version came out, and it’s a visual upgrade over the previous versions. The Xbox One controller offers some upgrades to the game, such as rumble triggers to let you know when you’ve overheated a turret that your spartan is staffing. The Xbox 360 version is much the same, minus a bit of visual fidelity and the aforementioned rumble triggers.

The game does have a few “freemium” elements, but thankfully they’re quite optional. You can earn points to customise your spartan’s loadout pre-mission, but they only last for that mission and aren’t permanent upgrades. I absolutely ignore these and accept the default loadout every time, and I’m about halfway through the game at this point. I don’t anticipate paying for a loadout change, so this is easily ignored.

All in all, this is the most attractive twin-stick shooter I’ve ever played. It has the largest levels of any dual-stick shooter I’ve ever played. It has the most vehicles and other interactive objects of any two-stick shooter I’ve ever played. It’s truly in a different league. And if you own it on either Windows Phone or Windows 8 then you can get the Xbox 360 or Xbox One versions for only $4.99 (or something similar in your local currency), and I’d recommend that as you can get the console version with the Windows 8 (or Windows Phone) version for about the same as the Xbox 360 or Xbox One version alone. And if you’re still reading this in June 2014, it’s free to Xbox Live Gold members for this once, making it absolutely unmissable. And yes, it figures, one of the first two free “Games With Gold” titles for Xbox One is a game that I’ve already purchased *three times*. Such is the way of things for me. :)

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