When you play a Halo game, you have a pretty good idea what to expect – solid science fiction-based first-person shooting, a strong storyline, a little vehicular action (mainly from the Warthog, but alien vehicles vary) and, of course, that staple multiplayer that both Bungie and 343 Studios have nailed with their releases.
That'll change this month, however, with the arrival of Halo: Spartan Assault. A game that initially appeared on Windows mobile platforms earlier this year, this game delivers a completely new perspective on Halo action, but one that players will have no trouble adapting to. Already a hit on the mobile front, it'll soon make its debut on Xbox One and Xbox 360, as a downloadable title.
The game's events take place in-between the timeframe for Halo 3 and Halo 4. The human/Covenant war has escalated to an all-new level, forcing the Spartans to jump into action and fight back. Over 30 stages of action await you in the single player campaign, with nearly insurmountable Covenant forces that will take a lot of cunning to bring down.
Unlike other games in the Halo franchise, Spartan Assault utilizes an overhead view, so you can see everything happening with your player, as well as the enemies that he or she is fighting. The game utilizes a twin-stick control system, with the left stick controlling player movement and the right handling firing direction – similar to the arcade classic Smash TV. This provides a newfound level of maneuverability, which you'll need once the screen starts filling up with enemies.
Being able to use actual analog sticks – compared to the virtual ones in the mobile versions of Spartan Assault – give this game a much-needed advantage. However, that's not the only thing Microsoft has added for console play.
You'll no longer be forced to go it alone against the horde. Both the Xbox One and Xbox 360 versions will utilize online co-op play, allowing you to team up with friends to take on enemies. Though Microsoft hasn't provided a specific player count yet, we're guessing that a few good Spartans will be able to join you in action. Unfortunately, cross-platform play isn't supported, so you can't play Xbox One and Xbox 360 buddies on the same system. Regular Xbox Live supported play is there, at least.
The game will also introduce a variety of enemies and weapons not found in the mobile version, including some "big guns" that will make a difference when it comes to clearing the playing field. Again, specific details haven't been given, but Halo fans are bound to be pleased by the offerings 343 Studios has in mind for the game. In addition, other items can be purchased using in-app purchases, such as additional boosts, unique weapons and armors. These are completely optional, of course, but Halo fans may want to invest.
Spartan Assault goes by an easy pick-up-and-play mentality, so that Halo fans and arcade-style players alike can get into the action. That doesn't mean it won't be challenging, however – a lot of bigger enemies in the game could spell bad news for you if you don't move quickly and effectively use your firepower. This is particularly true when the Flood show up, as they're being added exclusively to these versions of the game.
Operation Hydra, a supplementary mission that was offered as an add-on in the mobile games, will also be included in the final release, adding an all new campaign mission to complete.
Furthermore, if you've played quite a bit of Halo 4 on the Xbox 360, you'll be able to earn experience points, medals and Achievements in either version of the game. In addition, bonus goodies could be unlocked, including emblems, armors and skins.
Although it's hardly going to top the likes of previous Halo games in terms of excitement, Spartan Assault does provide a fresh wrinkle for the series that fans will want to check out. Besides, it'll certainly be cheaper, and the Halo 4 integration is bound to be a big hit for dedicated players. We'll see how these soldiers lock and load when the game releases later this month.