So how about that Halo guy eh? He kills aliens and isn’t afraid of anything! For me, downloading and installing Halo: Spartan Assault on my Xbox One was a no-brainer. I already own it on my Phone as well as on my Surface Tablet, so when 343 Industries announced they were re-releasing the game for the Xbox One with the addition of co-op, I was immediately sold.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a ridiculous Halo fanboi through and through, and Spartan Assault is no exception. At it’s core the game is a top-down third-person shooter that was developed by 343 Industries and Vanguard Entertainment. It’s canonical to the Halo series and was first released on 18 July 2013 for Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Surface RT platforms. This particular review, however, is centralised around the Xbox One release that was made available on 24 December 2013 (here in Australia).
The game itself is set between the events of Halo 3 and Halo 4, with the player controlling the Spartan soldiers Edward Davis and Sarah Palmer as they fight against the Covenant. Initially the game was launched with 25 single-player missions and additional content released after racking the total to over 30 exciting Campaign missions. The game makes use of many of the Halo weapons, vehicles and armour abilities, and the Xbox One version allows you to team up with a friend against waves of Flood in the all-new online co-op multiplayer mode.
Halo: Spartan Assault is as previously mentioned a top-down third-person shooter. Players control their character through virtual joysticks (on touch devices) or with the Xbox One Controller where the left stick controls movement and the right stick controls the direction of the character’s fire. During gameplay you have the facility to earn experience (XP), Achivements and emblems for use within your Halo 4 Spartan career.
The storyline itself takes place between the events of Halo 3 (2553) and Halo 4 (2557). For those unaware of the story, following on from Halo 3, the UNSC (United Nations Space Command) and the Covenant signed a ceasefire and Spartan Assault follows the very early Spartan Ops’ missions against the Covenant giving a more in depth background to the human-Covenant conflict. Stationed aboard the UNSC Infinity, gameplay is portrayed from the perspective of either Commander Sarah Palmer or Spartan Davis. The two Spartans are stationed on the planet Draetheus V when it suddenly comes under attack from a rogue group of Covenant who are blatantly ignoring the ceasefire.
When the Covenant leadership discover that Draetheus’ moon is actually a Forerunner weapon and as the Covenant begin to activate it, the planet starts tearing apart with the UNSC left with little choice but to evacuate on vacant Covenant ships. Spartan Davis ultimately gives his life in order to allow the remaining UNSC troops time to evacuate. Spartan Palmer tracks down the Covenant cult leader (Merg Vol) and kills him as well as sabotaging the Forerunner Weapon before escaping the planet. The Operation Hydra update has Spartan Palmer returning to X50 in search of a mysterious signal and after countless battles discovers that it is actually a distress signal from Spartan Davis (before he died).
The best part of the re-release to Xbox One console however is the addition of Co-operative gameplay, something I believe the original was sorely lacking. The ability to go toe to toe with a friend against swarms of the parasitic Flood is a great addition. I’ve played through the set in Co-op mode and it’s a hell of a lot easier to know you have someone watching your back when swarms of infection forms are coming at you.
The game itself has a great look and feel about it. It feels like a genuine Halo game and the only issues I’ve personally experienced were the controls on a tablet. Initial issues with using the Xbox One controller have gone out the window and it plays quite solidly. The story is not necessarily special (in terms of a Halo story) but at least it’s there and enjoyable. For $15 it’s definitely worth the cost for the amount of time I’ve spent playing this bad boy. If you’re a Halo fanboi like me, it’s a definite must have. If you’re not a Halo fanboi but you do enjoy top-down arcade style shooters, then it’s still a great game for the cost as well.