The lights are on
Today's announcement of Halo:
Spartan Assault introduced gamers to a surprising change for the series.
However, I'm less concerned with the shift in genres as I am the platform it
was announced for.
Halo: Spartan Assault is a top-down twin-stick shooter set
between Halo 3 and Halo 4. Players take on the role of either Commander Sarah
Palmer or Spartan Davis over 25 campaign missions in all-new battles between
the UNSC and Covenant forces. Despite being a downloadable title, Spartan
Assault appears to offer all the things a Halo fan could want: An XP system,
unlockable weapons, customizable load-outs, vehicular combat, and a variety of
leaderboards, Achievements, and medals. Playing the game can even earn you XP,
Achievements, and emblems in Halo 4.
I'm all for Microsoft and 343 Industries experimenting with
different genres for its flagship series, and the top-down shooter genre seems
like a perfect fit for some uncomplicated Halo action. Our own Tim Turi got a
chance to play Spartan Assault, and walked away impressed. So what's the
Nothing – unless you're an Xbox 360 owner, as the announcement
for Halo: Spartan Assault revealed that the game is coming exclusively to
Windows 8 PCs, tablets, and Windows Phone 8 devices. I understand that
Microsoft dreams of a world where everyone chooses Windows products over Apple
and Android, but why on earth would you not also release the game for the
console you already have on the market (which could always use more first-party
games), and the console you're going to release later this year?
I'm going to go ahead and assume that a future XBLA release of
Halo: Spartan Assault is inevitable, and that the insistence on Windows 8
exclusivity is only a short-term attempt to drum up gaming interest for
Microsoft's other platforms. If that's the case, however, the charade seems
ill-timed. Last month's Xbox One reveal was criticized by core gamers (and even
developers) for focusing on television, sports, and other multimedia
capabilities instead of games. We all assume that's a mistake Microsoft plans
to correct at E3 next week, but in the meantime the company announces a
surprise Halo game and doesn't make a single mention of Xbox 360 or Xbox One?
That doesn't strike me as the way to win back alienated gamers – or convince
Halo fans to take a chance on a new side project.
What do you think? Are you ready for a twin-stick Halo game,
or do you think 343 Industries should focus on Halo 5 instead? Is the game's Windows 8
exclusivity a smart move by Microsoft to draw tablet and Windows Phone owners
into gaming? Or is the company letting down its core gaming base? Share your
thoughts in the comments below.
Email the author Jeff Marchiafava, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.