An assault on the senses.
This time at GGUK we are going to be reviewing the first outing of one of the major corner stones of the Xbox game library, though this outing isn’t a full blown blockbuster entry, as it is a port of a mobile game. The game in question is none other than Halo: Spartan Assault, which is bursting onto the marketplace at £11.99. So will this be a masterpiece? Or just a rampant error?
Halo: Spartan Assault takes place between the events of Halo 3 and Halo 4. Following the events of Halo 3 with the UNSC in the Covenant Spartan Assault, the game picks up as a training programme aboard the UNSC infinity, where budding Spartan 4’s are tasked with experiencing the events that happened on the planet Draetheus V, where they will fill the boots of Halo 4 wiseass Commander Palmer and Spartan Davis, who makes his first appearance in this game.
The focus of the campaign is based around a rogue group of Covenant who have broken the ceasefire, after discovering that one of the Draetheus moons is actually a Forerunner weapon. The mission starts off with defending researchers and scientists but soon escalates as the Covenant begin to activate the weapon, which starts to tear the planet apart, leaving Palmer and Davis no choice but to commandeer Covenant ships to evacuate the UNSC staff. This leads up to an ultimate sacrifice at this stage in the game and sees the story taking a dramatic twist, from being a protection and evacuation based tale to being a hunt for the rogue Covenant leader Merg Vol, taking out his private guard and ultimately sabotaging his plans for the Forerunner weapon. The story is light on the cut scenes and CGI which you would normally expect form a Halo tale. There is a lot of text before each mission filling you in and pushing the story forward, which isn’t a huge problem, but die-hard fans may feel disconnected with it.
The biggest change in Spartan Assault from past Halo games is that the main gameplay is a twin stick shooter. This is a drastic change from the FPS style of gameplay that the series is known for. It is very fast, frantic and doesn’t slop in the short, sharp missions. This brings us onto the next big change in the format of the game, which is the way the missions are laid out with six main missions, which are lettered A-F, then within each letter there are five operations that make up the gameplay. These range from a minute and a half to three minutes and can be seen as a possible downfall of the port. This is a great format for gaming on the move, but doesn’t translate to big screen gaming quite as well, because once you get into the swing of a mission it ends too quickly. A little bit more time in each operation would have been helpful to the longevity of the campaign.
Though the game is a twin stick shooter, combat is broken up with vehicle sections which see you taking control of fan favourite vehicles, like the Ghost and the Wraith, but also more obscure vehicles, like the Grizzly Tank. These are all great additions to the missions and add a bit of variety, though there are no Warthog’s in the game.
As for firepower, your arsenal is made up of all the standard fare that you would find in a Halo game, from AR’s to BR’s and even the return of dual wielding SMG’s, which are devastatingly powerful. When it comes to enemies, the game has a real mixture from across the series, from Grunt’s to Elite’s and also Brute’s and the long forgotten Drone’s, though there is a notable absence of hunters, even though they appear on promotional material for the game.
With the vast array of weapons in the game, this also highlights one of the problems that some people will have with the game, as certain weapons like Sniper Rifles and Spartan Lasers are only obtainable by spending XP which you earn in game or through credits which are obtained through Micro transactions. This system isn’t just linked to the weapons, it is also connected to abilities like over shields and seeker Drones, and also boosts which help you increase your score or do more damage. But if you play through the game, you earn more than enough XP from completing missions and challenges to unlock these bonuses.
The game has the look and feel of Halo Wars, but instead of controlling vast units you only control one character in the overhead top-down perspective, which gives the game a very distinctive look and feel. As for sound, it is all very reminiscent of past installments in the series, with Tom Salta composing the score for the game and seeing him taking the reins for the first time in the series.
When it comes to Multiplayer in Spartan Assault, it may look a little lightweight on the ground as there are only five maps to play co-op on. The multiplayer focuses on a different storyline from the single player mode in which the multiplayer is shaped round the return of the Flood and sees you and your co-op partner having to defend areas from the onslaught of the Flood or destroying Forerunner terminals, stopping their release. The multiplayer suffers from the same problems as the single player campaign in that each of the five maps have a very short time limit seeing most of these maps completed within 5 minutes or under. On the whole the multiplayer is fun and enjoyable with your friends.
Overall Halo: Spartan Assault is an enjoyable game, even though it has some flaws. Some may find the asking price of £11.99 a little steep, but given that the game is based around challenges, there is a lot of replayability to be found to complete them all and unlock the last few achievements.
It’s a mini adventure