Halo: Spartan Assault Review

HALOHalo: Spartan Assault
Published by: Microsoft Studios
Genre: Top-Down Shooter
MSRP: $14.99
Rating: Teen
Available On: Xbox One, Xbox 360

One thing that’s been made abundantly clear with the arrival of the Xbox One is this: big companies are well aware of the profits to be made from micro-transaction driven games and are looking to cash in on the gold rush. Microsoft’s Xbox One, for example, launched with Killer Instinct — a “free” fighting game that includes only one character and requires players to purchase the others either individually or in bundles. 343 Industries’s Halo: Spartan Assault, originally launched on Windows and Windows Phone back in July, is another example of this philosophy in practice.

Halo: Spartan Assault is a top-down, stick-based shooter. Despite the fact that it was originally designed for mobile platforms, no touch controls were implemented. This means, of course, that the game is perfectly suited for the Xbox One and Xbox 360’s digital distribution platform. The game works perfectly with the Xbox controller, something that is almost certainly not a matter of pure coincidence. In all likelihood, 343 and Microsoft had planned to release Spartan Assault on its console platforms all along.

Gameplay is essentially your basic top-down fare. Your job, as one of the UNSC’s elite marines, is to move through each of the game’s map killing everything you can. You’ll find escort missions and vehicles to drive as you investigate Spartan Assault’s 25 five-to-ten minute missions. The game looks and feels solid, but its mobile design roots show in relatively simplistic AI world design and mission structure. A revolution in gaming this is not. in Halo titles, you’re going to be disappointed with Spartan Assault. The game is effectively a straight run-and-gun from start to finish with very few strategic elements. On mobile, the formula worked but as a sit-down console title Spartan Assault starts to feel a bit bland and repetitive a few missions in. You’re not going to be eagerly crushing each mission waiting to find out where the story goes.

If you’re looking for the customary depth of combat and strategy found in Halo titles, you’re going to be disappointed with Spartan Assault. The game is effectively a straight run-and-gun from start to finish with very few strategic elements. On mobile, the formula worked but as a sit-down console title Spartan Assault starts to feel a bit bland and repetitive a few missions in. You’re not going to be eagerly crushing each mission waiting to find out where the story goes.

And here, of course, is where we need to come back around to the micro-transaction thing. Halo: Spartan Assault is designed to force you to open your wallet. Powerful weapons are purchased via experience points, which you’ll earn from completing missions. Unfortunately, earning enough experience points to purchase one upgrade items takes several missions — unless you’re willing to pony up some cash. Items purchased last for only one mission. So when you spend your actual money to buy a sniper rifle, you’re only getting that sniper rifle for the next ten minutes of gameplay. It’s almost criminal.

If you like top-down shooters, you’ll probably find something to enjoy in Halo: Spartan Assault. However, it is almost impossible to get the full game experience without spending money on the title’s in-game micro-transactions. For a title that’s priced about the same as a lot of indie games, Spartan Assault doesn’t bring much worth mentioning and is stacked with cynical cash-grab design. The best plan for Halo fans is picking the game up on mobile or Windows for half the price.