Game Summary: Halo: Spartan Assault takes place in a futuristic science fiction setting between the events of Halo 3 in 2553 and the events of Halo 4 in 2557. Following the events of Halo 3, the UNSC and Covenant signed a ceasefire. It follows the early Spartan Ops' missions against the Covenant alien species and gives more background to the human-Covenant conflict. Stationed on the UNSC Infinity, gameplay is through the perspective of either Commander Sarah Palmer or Spartan Davis.
Developers: 343 Industries, Vanguard EntertainmentPublishers: Microsoft Studios Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Review: by Darren
Wow, Microsoft, just wow. Where do you get off thinking that this game should exist on such a platform as the Xbox One? As you can already tell, I have only great things to say about Halo: Spartan Assault for the Xbox One. In all seriousness, the game isn’t bad. Did they really need to bring it to the Xbox One, maybe not. Like any other game/port like thing it does have its downfalls, mostly with the story and the motivation to care about the characters in the story. I personally didn't buy or play the touch screen versions of Halo: Spartan Assault on a Windows 8 or a Windows Phone 8 device, so I don’t currently have the original version of the game to compare it to; therefore, this is a fresh look at the game for what it is rather than just an upgraded port.
When Spartan By Any Other Name
To be completely honest, I could not care less about any given character in this game, which could be because the player is never truly put into the mind of the character, simply the shoes. To explain that in a more straightforward way, it’s kind of like putting Master Chief in Halo: Reach and not allowing you to play as him while he dictates to you exactly where to go all the time.
To explain Master Chief’s dynamic as a character to a player, essentially, you have this super skilled person who’s basically the greatest thing since sliced bacon, but he has a canvas personality where he isn’t defined as a person; so, the player either can apply his or her own personality to this slate of a suit or distance herself or himself to make it seem more sound that there’s not a real person dying constantly.
Then you have the spartans from Halo: Reach who are fully fleshed out distinct people who have feelings, thoughts, emotions, personality, the whole nine yards. The game makes you identify with one or all of these people, so you can care about them through the story.
This puts the spartans in Halo: Spartan Assault in a situation, because the game does try to define characters — give them some kind of depth (i.e. they have a name) — but for some reason they still feel extraordinarily Master Chief, a means to a method.
I can appreciate the developer trying to add more depth to the characters, but for some reason it just doesn’t seem to work very well. It could be the fact that the game approaches missions as tactic sessions, but the player doesn’t actually need to plan or do any kind of tactics. You might as well be Master Chief; you can literally just shoot everything defined as an enemy until the mission is over or, in scenario two, follow some arbitrary USNC object and shoot everything you can until the mission is over.
A Gauntlet Full Of D-Pad
I’ve been playing games for a decently long time, and one of my favorite types of games are adventure games. I also really like dungeon crawlers…for the most part.
Halo: Spartan Assault isn’t a dungeon crawler or really an adventure game for that matter, but it does have a similar feel. On that note, one of my favorite game series is Gauntlet. It is in fact one of my childhood favorites, and this game reminds me of it quite a bit actually, at least the feel of the game. It seems to be only the feel because of how the game delivers itself to the player. Gauntlet was a kill all the things game, and Halo, as a series, is just the same.
Halo: Spartan Assault is no different. The game initially gives you 25 missions (pre-DLC) where you either go from point A to point B killing all the things, follow a UNSC object and defend it by killing all the things, or defend a base from waves of enemies by running all over like a chicken with its head cut off while killing all the things. That being said, the way the actual missions are presented to you is seemingly arbitrary. For example, this Spartan did something significant to the overall war using some tactic, or this is how the battle went. While, yes, this is an interesting way to go about observing Halo and delivering story, for some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to care about what the Spartans did because in the end all it felt like I could do was kill all the things. Maybe if it was expanded so that I had some or any tactical control over anything whatsoever, I could feel more of a connect with the story/storytelling method.
Even though I haven’t played the Windows Phone 8, or Windows 8 version of the game, I can easily tell that this game was not originally intended to be played with a controller, mostly because a controller makes this Halo: Spartan Assault intensely easy. I might have died twice… maybe.
I’m not saying that makes the game less fun; it certainly does not, but it would clearly be significantly harder on a touch screen. There are ways to artificially make the game harder, if you’re into that kind of thing. For example, you can add skulls to modify the game while getting skill points, which is the actual hard part of the game and actually takes some amount of luck and skill. Not only do the points/experience scale, the skulls, and the weapon buying/unlocking system add more challenge to the game, but they add replay value to each level and the game as a whole. Whether that appeals to you or not is a different story.
The Good, The Bad, And The Cash Cow Called Halo
#ShortAndFun, #NotFirstPerson, #StoryFilled, #CheapGames
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