Halo: Spartan Assault Review

July 23, 2013

Being a Halo fan as I am, I’ve been pretty excited in how the new Windows Phone 8 / Windows 8 game would work, or if it would at all. Making a Halo game that isn’t in first person view is something I imagine as hard. Ensemble Studios tried to make Halo into an RTS game, Halo Wars, which I was really psyched about, but once I had played it through, it felt like the best thing with the whole game was the cut-scenes. I don’t want to say that it was a bad game, it could’ve been great, but because it was dumbed-down for console controllers, it felt like it wasn’t a Halo game worth to be remembered.

Spartan assault, just like Halo Wars, is a bit different than the traditional Halo FPS game. A bit dumbed down, and a bit arcade:ish, so lets see if it’s a game that I’d recommend.

Storyline

The game takes place between Halo 3 and Halo 4, which means that Master Chief is still MIA. The game acts as a simulation (on the UNSC Infinity) from previous events, Battle of Draetheus V, which was military engagement between UNSC and Covenant remnants after the main UNSC-Covenant war that was fought out in the earlier games.
I don’t really understand why they decided that the game is a simulation and not the actual event as it was played out.

Controllers

controllers_superimposed

The controllers for the game is pretty simple, the left hand side of the screen is movement and the right hand screen is aiming/firing. The controllers work great for moving the character about, but the aiming is hard, thankfully there’s somekind of soft auto-aim which makes it a bit better, but the aim still acts a bit random. The game also sports different kinds of armor-abilities, which is basically a modifier for your armor (like running, invisibility cloak, etc.) though the activation of the ability is a bit clunky, you need the tap the character on screen. But if you double tap the screen, your character will throw out a grenade (and at seemingly random things).

Levels and gameplay

level_selection

The game is split into five chapters and each chapter contains 5 levels each. As I’ve played through, the average length of each level has been about 5 minutes, though it would go a bit quicker if the aiming-controller would be more consistent.

The levels have different goals which makes the game more interesting, but I really think they should have included a firefight mode as well instead of campaign only levels.

I feel the announce trailer pretty much wraps up the gameplay, so I’ll just embed it.

Game looks, and Halo feeling

interface

The game looks great on my phone, though I believe it’s been built specifically for the high-end Lumia resolution 1280 x 768, my HTC has a resolution of 1280 x 720, which makes all the text a bit blurry (because of scaling I guess). Though I can’t confirm it because I don’t own a Lumia phone. Though this only seems to affect the in-game texts, the game in itself seems to be scaled correctly.

Otherwise, the artistic feel of the game is really on pair with the other halo games, the terrain and the different characters models really do look like any other halo game only from a isometric viewpoint. And I think I can even go so far and say that the game feels and looks a lot more like Halo than Halo Wars does.

If I should complain on something, it would be the soundtrack, not that it’s bad in anyway, but it doesn’t have the same epicness too it like previous soundtracks. This is probably because Martin O’Donnell has been the main composer for previous bungie-halo-games, and since bungie is out, 343 industries had instead brought in Tom Salta as the composer for this game.

And another thing that comes to mind is the main interface. it feels more like an after-thought, something they threw in at the last second before release. It does in no-way look like a typical halo-game interface. Which is a bit sad considering many of the halo games have had interfaces that have practically been made for touch input (or at least looked like it with all the swiping back and forth).

Loadouts and experience points

loadout

Now the last thing that I really hate with this game. The loadouts. In essence, the idea to be able to pick different kind of gear in to every game, and to maximize replay-ability is great with loadouts, you get to pick and chose your weapons of choice. Though the way 343 Industries/Vanguard Games have decided to solve this is by forcing the player to either buy credits (CR’s) to get the fun weapons, or then use up the players experience points for a one-level-only sniper rifle.

change_loadout

They game already costs 55 SEK, which is a bit expensive for a mobile game (granted that this game is really polished and well worth the expense). I really think it was a bad idea to only allow players to buy a weapon for one-use only. If I decide that I want to grind for exp points, I don’t want to use them up for a single time only. They should have added more power-weapons, and once bought you own it. I do understand that they want to maximize profitability with the credit thing, but again, I feel this should have been used for buying additional levels, and not for weapons.

Conclusion

It’s a good game with some flaws. But totally worth the money, especially if you’re somebody interested in the Halo franchise. Though a bit of a warning, if you want to play the game on both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, be prepared to buy the game twice.

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