Halo: Spartan Assault Review: Nickel and Dime
Twin stick shooters are, for whatever reason, a staple of all console launches. The Xbox 360 saw Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved win over the hearts of many. Resogun really makes me wish I owned a PlayStation 4. Nano Assault Neo was the Wii U launch game I enjoyed most.
The Xbox One has Halo: Spartan Assault. It doesn’t compare to any of the games I just mentioned. Instead, it’s better off compared to Full Auto or The Outfit.
Oh, you forgot those games existed, didn’t you. Good thing I’m here to bring up awful memories.
There’s a story to be told within Spartan Assault, though the game doesn’t necessarily do a very good job of telling it. Events take place between Halo 3 and Halo 4 as you do battle with a rogue group of Covenant who are ignoring the ceasefire. I have a feeling though that the game’s developers don’t really care about the story. This is based on the fact that I didn’t realize there were cutscenes until I began the second operation of the campaign. Each operation gets its own (skippable) cinematic and story notes are given (via text) as each level loads. It’s as if the narrative was an afterthought.
This is a bit understandable, though. Twin stick shooters aren’t necessarily known for an over-arching storyline. They’re known for frantic and fast-paced again. Sadly, none of that is present here. Spartan Assault’s roots as a tablet came definitely show: this is a Halo shooter that was made for tablets and ported to consoles; nothing more, nothing less. The enemy screen count is rarely intimidating, any half-intelligent play will never threaten your life, and the missions play out exactly as they do in a traditional Halo FPS.
To call the game disappointing may be a bit of an understatement; that would require a personal interest in the game to begin with. Instead, Halo: Spartan Assault feels like it only exists on the Xbox One in order to release something post launch. This belief is only enhanced by the game’s desire to throw microtransactions down your throat. Unless you require enough XP, you’re forced to pay credits in order to bring non-default weapons, boosters, or armor abilities on a mission. Using XP means you can bring them every so often, as it’s a pretty scarce commodity. The result is a feeling that Microsoft isn’t after your controller, but instead after your wallet.
Some of these issues could be excused with enticing gameplay and exciting action, but things never come full circle. Halo: Spartan Assault is a soulless, boring, chore of a game. The small glimpses of fun arcade like gameplay are drowned away by frustration and money grabbing. At least we can still enjoy Geometry Wars, provided we still have our 360 console.