REVIEW: Halo: Spartan Assault
Offering a more arcadey type of gameplay, Spartan Assault is a fun game capable of keeping you glued to the screen until the very end.
Set between the events of Halo 3 and Halo 4, Spartan Assault puts you in control of Commanders Sarah Palmer and David Palmer, who are put on the planet Draetheus V due to rogue Covenant threats who refuse to agree to the recently signed ceasefire between the UNSC and Covenant. Sounds simple enough, however things get a lot more complicated for the duo, involving more dangerous enemies such as the Forerunners, but I won’t spoil too much.
Taking a departure from the Halo formula we all know and love, Spartan Assault isn’t a first-person shooter, instead you’ll be put in missions from a top-down perspective, picking up weapons, power-ups, grenades and ammo along the way. Like any other Halo game but the change in its gameplay style makes for a fresh new experience.
A typical mission includes blasting through hordes of Covenant, ranging from the weak Grunts all the way to Elites and Hunters. Basically, any enemy you’ve seen throughout the Halo franchise will pop up eventually trying to kill you. It’s nice to see these familiar threats as it reinforces the fact you are playing a Halo game despite the change in gameplay style.
Other missions require some tower defense or the defense of a single person as they work the controls on a particular building – it’s nice to have a variety of mission types as opposed to constantly slaughtering enemies without much room for tactical thought. I mean, that’s fun to a degree but can get tiring – Spartan Assault will keep you entertained throughout, providing well-thought out scenarios within each mission.
Co-op mode is a lot of fun and reminds me of Smash TV a lot – enemies will come at you from all directions, leaving no room for a breather, instead lots of flood-type enemies flooding in (sorry, couldn’t resist), making it you and your partner’s job to get rid of them as soon as possible with often limited ammo and grenades.
Practically every staple of the Halo universe can be seen, including Battle Rifles, DMR’s, Assault Rifles, Ghosts, Warthogs, Wraiths, and everything in between. There’s even medals to make you feel that much more rewarded, including some new ones unique to Spartan Assault such as “Wrecking Ball”, which is given when you get a vehicle kill. Another example is the “Make It Rain”, given upon killing 10 enemies consecutively with grenades.
Before every mission, you can choose to spend credits (CR) and experience (XP) on power weapons such as the Sniper or Rocket Launcher as well as various armour abilities and boosters including Overshield, Autosentry, Shield Booster, and so forth. CR and XP is earned by completing missions and should be spent wisely as you don’t get much unless you do really well throughout the campaign.
At the end of each level, you’ll be given a mission ranking in the form of a star (it’s like being back at school again!), bronze being the worst, silver being the middle ground, and finally gold, which is only given if you achieve a certain score. It’s worth going for gold as you’ll be able to reap the rewards and gain XP much faster.
Like previous Halo titles, you can choose to enable skulls to alter the gameplay in some way, giving you a higher score but at a price – these skulls will increase the difficulty, for example the Blind skull means important parts of your HUD are eliminated. If you’re going for lots of XP, putting some of these skulls on is worth doing as they all give an XP booster. The toughest skull I tried was Pacifist, which drained my shields and armour every time I fired my weapon.
Halo: Spartan Assault is a solid top-down shooter with a much more arcadey vibe to it – whilst the storyline is quite serious, the gameplay is fun and encourages scores to be beaten, much like an arcade game. Even if you’re not into Halo, this game is still worth trying out as it’s easy to just pick up and play.
Available On: Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows PC, Windows Phone