The lights are on
Earlier this month, Microsoft registered a domain name for Halo: Spartan Assault. You can stop guessing what it is now, because I’ve played 343 Industries’ new Halo game. The developer is taking the franchise to mobile devices. The Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 game is inspired by twin-stick shooters like Robotron and tells a new story across 25 campaign missions set between Halo 3 and 4. Halo 4 owners will also earn experience, emblems, and achievements by playing Spartan Assault. I got my hands on the tablet version and blasted apart Covenant forces from the new top-down perspective.
The missions of Spartan Assault are a mixture of pivotal UNSC battles told in a framework that expands on Halo 4’s Sarah Palmer and the origins of the Spartan Ops program. Players choose between Commander Sarah Palmer or Spartan Davis. The game is presented like it’s a training tool for prospective soldiers. It allows users to relive the most important Covenant conflicts from the history books. The story is told through slick cinematics, which look like polished motion comics.
I played through a section of the game on a Windows 8-powered Surface tablet. Players customize their load-out before each mission, and unlock classic Halo weaponry as they progress. I stick to Halo 2’s classic dual SMGs for my hands-on time. Digital thumbsticks can be a pain, but Spartan Assault mitigates this with controls that pop up wherever you place your thumbs on the touchscreen. Movement is controlled with the left thumb, and your Spartan shoots in the direction of the right stick. Various on-screen buttons let you switch grenade types and swap weapons. The control scheme works well for the missions I played, but we’ll have to wait and see how it holds up during more chaotic skirmishes.
An overhead perspective offers a broad look at the lively battlefield. Banshees streak through the air, trailing light from their wings. Blue blood splatters from Covenant grunts and elites as they fall to guns and explosives. The lighting, particle effects, and detailed character models and vehicles make Spartan Assault resemble a zoomed-out look at an intense battle from one of Halo’s console entries.
Vehicles play a key role in the game. One mission tasked me with taking out a squad of anti-air Wraiths. I begin by using the powerful and accurate sniper rifle to clear out a pack of elites guarding a Wraith. I hijack it with a press of the touchscreen and hop inside. I proceed to use the commandeered Wraith to destroy the rest of the fleet. Just like in the console games, vehicles gradually begin to smoke and show wear as they take damage, concluding with a dramatic explosion. 343 Industries’ attention to these details keeps the experience grounded in the Halo universe.
Halo: Spartan Assault arrives on Windows 8 devices this July. If an accessible, single-player twin-stick Halo game sounds like a good fit for you, be sure to set aside $6.99 for it. 343 Industries is supporting wired Xbox 360 controllers for all versions of the game with a post-launch update, so here’s hoping the downloadable game makes it to XBLA.
Email the author Tim Turi, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
Touch screen and twin stick shooter? Not even being halo can make me want to play it.
Something tells me Microsoft will ruin Halo. Just a hunch.
I loved Halo back when Bungie was in charge. I appreciate what 343 is doing, but they can do a lot better. Halo just isn't the same anymore. Since 2009, there has been a yearly Halo release, which wasn't the case with the Original Trilogy, which was released every three years. There are just too many Halo games being released not to far apart. Halo is what got me into gaming, so it's sad seeing being milked out. And for this new game, Sarah Palmer of all characters is the protagonist. I hated Palmer SO much. She isn't that interesting of a character. I also didn't like much of the characters in Halo 4. I only liked Chief, Cortana, Halsey, and Lasky. I hated Palmer, the Spartan IV's, and pretty much everyone on the Infinity. The UNSC doesn't even feel the same as it did in the Original Trilogy. I wanted to see appearances from characters of the Bungie Era like Arbiter and Lord Hood. Halo just isn't the same anymore and I hope that 343 can turn things around and make the series go back to its former glory.
Meh, Windows 8 propaganda. Not convinced.
hate no good windows phones are on Verizon STOP LETTING AT&T BUY THEM...
PS.. why do people say its a milking their trying to make a series with a lot of lore and each of their games is just an add on to the story they aren't throwing master chief onto every game just so you'll buy it they're introducing new people and making the universe bigger
i wouldn't really say that making one mobile game is "milking" the series.......
So much for Halo Wars 2 hopes. >:
Why are you selling out 343? What the hell?
So... Can I get this on my Windows 8 laptop? And then play it with my 360 controller? That would probably be the only way I'd play it, short of XBLA.
It will be something fun to play on my htc x8 phone
Something tells me this is going to be a very meh game just by the name. Does anyone else think it sounds more like a lego set than a game?
They could have made a tactical Halo Wars-like game, but that would have been too good to be true.
Can't wait to play this on my surface!
Impressive for Windows, but as everyone will be saying, "Stalling for time for Halo 5."
mmm..Halo Wars HD edition?? they are trying to make ppl buy their crappy systems (windows 8 / ws- phone) through halo... just like what they tried to do with halo 2 (windows vista crap exclusivity at that time).
now I have a reason to get a windows 8 phone
this looks really dumb. why can't they just make a real game for console or PC in stead of this phone crap?