Jeff Markiewicz On February 24, 2014 at 10:36 am

HaloSpartanAssaultConsoleContentScreenshot_Mission4_a343 Industries now firmly holds onto the Halo property and their next entry is Halo Spartan Assault, developed alongside Vanguard Games for all of Microsoft’s platforms. 343 Industries is Microsoft’s new studio filled to the brim with a lot of industry talent and put out Halo 4 over a year ago. Vanguard Games has some experience in crafting small games. In 2010, they made Greed Corp and the following year, Gatling Gears. Both titles garnered average to above average scores. Greed Corp is a turn-based strategy title and Gatling Gears is a twin-stick shooter. Long-story short, it appears that this isn’t Vanguard Games first rodeo with a game like Halo Spartan Assault. Can they take the lessons learned of years prior and make something worthy of the Halo name?

Halo Spartan Assault tells the story of Draetheus V, a human-controlled planet during a Covenant invasion. The story is told via the UNSC Tactical Simulator and follows several different Spartans, none of which are Master Chief. Overall though, the story is quite basic. There are five acts, with six missions apiece. After the initial voiced cut scene preceding each act, the story is slims down to simple missions that are conveyed via text that you read. Each mission lasts about three minutes. With this lack of time in the limelight, there isn’t much development of the various characters. Even though some come from Halo 4, you just don’t care. This makes a moment later on just have no impact. Your reaction to it is the same as your reaction to reading the next name in the phone book. Overall, it delivers a nice slice from the Halo universe but it’s basic. When it sticks to delivering the tactical perspective, it’s fine. When it tries to delve into something more, it ends up stumbling.

Halo Spartan Assault brings the Halo action to a top-down third-person approach where you, a Spartan, brings the fight to the covenant one bullet at a time. Most of you favorite actions from the series can be done here, like piloting vehicles but there are some noticeable absences. Missions are incredibly short and after completion earns you points which allow you to purchase boosters and weapons to use in each level. The boosters can enhance your shield, damage, or score and the weapons include your typical Halo favorites. If you don’t want to earn experience points, you can actually purchase credits with real money to unlock these disposable perks. There are no difficulty setting in the game either. Instead, you can turn on skulls which help boost your score potential but replay potential seems to be a concern.

The variability and depth is a little lacking here. Grenades on the ground can’t be blown up. Vehicles can’t be hijacked. Melee combat feels slow and grenades don’t feel precise. Controls, especially in the tank, feel a little off. The hallmark of Halo combat is switching between all of these and approaching situations in a variety of ways. This game feels like an arcade version of Halo. Like playing Halo on easy. It’s definitely not bad and can be fun. The vehicle missions are typically a blast. Just like the core titles, the amount of destructive ability you have is addicting. Some of the armor abilities are cool. A couple maps have some creative use of the map sizes but others are quite boring. Especially the maps you just have to survive. It is where the gameplay can be the most fun but it’s also where the map can be more boring. They give you the most tactical options but they typically just go nowhere. Hold out until the clock runs out. Most missions are a variant of kill everything or survive unfortunately. It makes the various levels feel somewhat repetitive and the spark that you’d use to replay level to get better scores is used up just completing the game.
The online is a series of cooperative levels where you fight the flood. The story is that this is once again, a simulation for if they ever return. Some of the missions have you just holding out until a timer runs out and others have you achieving objectives like shutting down power cores under a time limit. Either way, you’re going to get swarmed quickly and often in this mode which leads to a frantic attempt at survival. Unfortunately, the gameplay feels like it starts to breakdown at this point. This game is best when you’re getting swarmed by covenant but there is always a chance to get a breath in and then jump back into the action. In this mode, its relentlessly nonstop. So while this does provide a challenge and if you want to master it, might take you a bit, but it will just end up frustrating most.

In conclusion, it is quite easy to see where this title was intended to be played on. It was intended to be played on a cell phone. The missions are incredibly short. The gameplay lacks the depth we’ve come to expect in a Halo title. But you can come to terms with this and appreciate it for the game that was made. Some levels can be a lot of fun and the game constantly flirts with being something more. For example, some missions have you complete objectives and then direct you to a new location. You get excited, what’s coming next? Well the answer is unanimous nothing. You’re directed to the end of the mission when it could’ve easily ended earlier. Sure it was designed for phones but giving us another section of a map would hardly push some levels over the 5 minute mark. Or give us a bonus campaign of missions that are double the length and larger maps. For this title on Xbox 360, you’ll play through it once and say to yourself, that was okay and move on. Hope for a real attempt in the future. On your phone, it could be an entirely different experience.

The graphics are simplistic, it’s obviously a game built for phones rather than the full power of a home console. Despite that though, the Halo aesthetics are still here. And despite being linear and basic, the backgrounds are quite nice. Typically you’ll see fighting and a cool scenic shot of the planet making the slice that you’re playing on not feel that small. Or you’ll see a bridge or other structure obscure your view making the world feel like it has some depth. On the other side of the coin, the parts that you interact on are completely flat. Sometimes a texture tries to make it seem otherwise, but it’s completely flat. Some slowdown during the more intense combat missions. In summary, the aesthetics and art are there but nothing can obscure it’s obviously a port from cell phones.

There are two sides to Halo music now, the Bungie side and the 343 side. Bungie with Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori crafted some of the best videogame music of the last couple console generations. And now with 343 and Neil Davidage, there is definitely a different feel and tone. The music in Halo Spartan Assault is from Tom Salta and the nice thing is he manages to create a hybrid between the two which is nice. Unfortunately, none of the songs are really standout or come close to the classic songs we know and love from the series. On the game audio side, it sounds good. Most of the weapons have the typical Halo sounds. Enemies sound like they should. But there is something lacking to make it feel immersive and special. Overall, the music helps elevate it from being average.

The game has the looks of a Halo game but the feel doesn’t hit the mark. The gameplay of a Halo game has a natural flow between its combat mechanics and here is can be a little clunky. The open areas and the freedom to tackle obstacles in multiple ways is another big aspect of Halo but this game doesn’t have many of them. Your modus operandi is run and gun like Halo on easy. The levels that you do enjoy end too soon and if that isn’t bad enough, the game teases that they could be more. Like Disney’s Pocahontas, you ask yourself what is around the river bend. What could this level have me do next? Well, it is having you walk to the end. Halo Spartan Assault is worth playing for hardcore Halo fans but it’s probably best to try it on your phone where it was intended. On Xbox 360, you’ll probably end up frustrated with what it could have been.


The story is nice but altogether not that interesting. The attempt at the end to make it special falls quite flat. The gameplay is like Halo on easy, run and gun all the way and gets repetitive after a while. The missions are entirely too short.


Quite basic in design. The flat levels make you appreciate the effort of nice backgrounds and the occasional structure obscuring your view to give them depth. It’s a cell phone game ported to a console.


Music is a nice hybrid of Bungie’s Halo and 343’s Halo but unfortunately, none of the songs are really standout or come close to the classic songs we know and love from the series.


Halo Spartan Assault is worth a playing for hardcore Halo fans but it’s probably best to try it on your phone where it was intended. On Xbox 360, you’ll probably end up frustrated with what it could have been. The gameplay doesn’t match the level of the core games and the short levels leave you wanting more.

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