"Halo Goes Top-Down"
Microsoft is currently trying to find some steady ground and a strong bridge to the future, linking together Windows 8 from desktop PCs to the Surface and Windows phones, streamlining everything with a touch interface and cool tile aesthetics, along with shared apps. That being said, a new era of mobile-touch Windows needs to usher in a few exclusive games that aren’t just for the Xbox platform, but for their other devices. Enter Halo: Spartan Assault.
Halo: Spartan Assault takes place between Halo 3 and 4. However, it is not an FPS. It’s a top-down, dual stick shooter, and for an old-school gamer like me, that’s a good thing. Growing up in the era of bullet curtain and action shooters, I have an affinity for them. Halo: Spartan Assault spices up the classic genre, though does a good job of spicing it up. Spartan Assault throws you into missions with a little bit of story, and that story is very much part of the Halo canon. The plot introduces the characters of Sarah Palmer and Spartan Davis who are on planet Draetheus V when rouge Covenant attack, but you’ll see plenty of old faces too.
Controls on the Surface are not too bad, though the dual virtual sticks take some getting used to if you aren’t a gamer used to these types of controls. However, more detailed actions, such as driving, can be a bit floozy on those virtual sticks. Windows 8 PC gamers now have Xbox controller support, and I reccomend you use it.
That being said, Halo: Spartan Assault makes up for a lot by just looking great and feeling like a real installment of the series (albeit a very different type). All of your familiar foes of the series are here, and Spartan Assault is lush in detail, and most importantly, flashy and explosive in its effects. Tom Salta (video game music fans will know his name) came on to compose the music, and he worked exclusively to compose a score that would be powerful both on mobile device speakers and high-end audio outputs. For video game music fanatics (such as myself) this is such a cool detail. The game is worth playing just to hear the score alone.
Micro-transactions exist, and they may put off those who feel that after paying for a game you shouldn’t have to see these, but they aren’t really necessary to enjoy the game fully. In many free-to-play games, it can be almost impossible to progress without purchasing stuff (unless you are stuck in an airport for two days, with nothing to do but collect in-game currency to unlock content), while Halo: Spartan Assault functions as a great game without one single virtual purchase from beginning to end.
Years down the line you’ll probably see Spartan Assault included with another Halo game, or as a throw in to an anthology, but as of now, it’s a great "little" game for Windows 8 users, or those who have a Surface or Windows Phone. The game shines best on PC though, and I am waiting for that controller support anxiously.
All that being said, Halo fans should give Halo: Spartan Assault a shot. Those who love dual-stick shooters should play it, even if they’ve never touched a Halo game before, because despite being worked into a Halo story, the gameplay is solid for the genre.
GameDynamo's Score for Halo: Spartan Assault (PC)
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