The Halo franchise has been the biggest weapon in Microsoft’s arsenal since the launch of the first Xbox over ten years ago, and as such it has always been given the care and attention that a AAA, system selling series deserves, until now that is…
I never played the original release of Spartan Assault on Windows Phone, but from what I have played of the Xbox One version, it probably should have stayed there. Levels are sparse in detail, even if they do run in 1080p/60fps, and are played out in simplistic five minute chunks of gameplay that vary very little over the course of the campaign, essentially, it’s just run and gun. There is little in the way of strategy to the proceedings beyond that, and as such, not only does it feel disconnected from the Halo universe, beyond its traditional controller layout, it also lacks the intensity and excitement of a good twin stick shooter.
To its benefit, beyond the single player campaign, there is a separate co-op one too, but sadly I cannot comment on this particular aspect of the game as it failed to allow me to actually participate in this mode, stubbornly refusing to connect to another player on the occasions when I tried to do so, and further adding to the online woes that the console is suffering from at the moment.
Naturally, there is a point scoring mechanic to the game that provides some replay value to the missions as players seek to earn gold, silver and bronze medals on each of them, however, even this is far from perfect. Players also earn XP as they complete missions and perform certain actions, and this is used as a currency to purchase more powerful weapons to help with in-game performances, and this I have tried only once, for good reason. The weapons, which cost a rather high amount of the player’s XP to unlock, are available for use in just one mission before they are lost, and given that it is highly unlikely that additional ammunition will be found for them, they are likely to be discarded before the even the end of that. On top of this, there are also point scoring boosters, along with temporary damage and shield upgrades, that can be employed to help attain those hard to reach medals, but again, the cost of these is a substantial chunk of the pitiful amount of XP that can be earned from playing through the game.
Of course, XP isn’t the only currency employed here, weapons and upgrades can be attained through the use of credits, which are themselves bought with real money, and typically, these offer far greater value for money than the XP alternative. Now, whilst it is not entirely necessary to use either boosters or weapons to finish the game, they are essential in meeting the high score targets necessary to attain the coveted gold medal on numerous missions, and that, quite frankly, is unacceptable.
Unfortunately, Halo: Spartan Assault is a smear against the once good name of the Halo franchise, an uninteresting and outright boring campaign, made even worse by a malfunctioning co-op mode (apparently the highlight of the game) and a dependence on poorly balanced micro-transactions. For the same price, gamers can pick up the vastly superior Max: The Curse of Brotherhood instead, and I would strongly advise you to do so.
– James Paton @TheBlackPage81
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