Commander Palmer and Spartan Davis have faced their fair share of trials and tribulations; Spartan Assault is no different. But just as the coveted leaders portayed in this twin-stick shooter, Spartan Assault has risen above its destined turmoil, and come back with teeth clenched, claiming its rightful spot on the Xbox One.
Set between the events of Halo 3 and Halo 4, 343 industries teams up with Vanguard games to bring Halo fans a twin stick top-down camera view shooter, putting players into the roles of Commander Sarah Palmer, and Spartan Davis, as the backstory to Spartan Ops unfolds. Hal0: SA has 6 campaign operations, A-F, while the co-op campaign only has one operation. Each operation contains 5 missions, but only the co-op missions contain the recently thwarted parasitic aliens known as the Flood. Each mission takes about 2-7 minutes, and generally contains 1-3 objectives. A single playthrough takes only a couple of hours, but Spartan Assault is built with an arcade style aesthetic, tempting you to constantly beat your high score on a mission, or activate a few skulls for an extra challenge.
Graphics and Sound
Without the visual and audible appeal of the Halo Universe, Spartan Assault wouldn’t have the same effect on players. The beautifully recognizable environments and never-forgotten Halo soundtrack bring this title to an unparalleled level in twin-stick shooters. Visually, 343 and Vanguard did an incredible job depicting the Halo Universe, and these graphics really pop on Xbox One. The cutscenes, however, are short and bland, and don’t immerse you into the story as they should have done. For players who don’t follow the Halo lore and universe, the plot is most likely close to being unrecognizable.
Recognizable vehicles, weapons and enemies all make their appearances in Halo: SA, and this universe fits comfortably in a twin-stick top-down setting. Mow down grunts with the trusted UNSC Assault Rifle, steal and command a Wraith to bring demise on even the toughest of the Covenant, or even wield the hailed dual SMGs for gritty close-quarters-combat. You also have tactical abilities that are interchangeable, much as in the main series of the Halo Franchise. Regen Field, Active Camo, Speed Boost, and more all make their return as abilities, and this adds great and much needed variety to the gameplay. While iconic Halo vehicles and enemies are missing such as the Warthog and Hunters, Spartan Assault does a great job with what it offers, and the almighty Scorpion didn’t miss the cast! One thing that I really enjoy is that you never have an excess supply of ammo or weapons, so you must constantly search the battlefield for a greater chance of surviving the mission, giving a higher strain on strategy,
Spartan Assault would feel incomplete without the Xbox One exclusive co-op mode. Co-op mode pairs you with another Spartan as you fight waves and waves of the Flood, all the while cooperating and struggling towards your objective(s). This mode really throws in variety, and can by far be the most inclusive and entertaining. The Flood was a perfect addition; they act just as you’d expect from the main series, and that is a very refreshing feature. Overall, Spartan Assault falls short on total quantity, but is a solid hit based on its MSRP.
Halo: Spartan Assault veers into the new new territory of twin-stick shooters, and earns its right on the Xbox One store, coming together for a great downloadable title, and a must buy for returning fans. Spartan Assault has some minor setbacks such as uninspired cutscenes and a lack of overall quantity, but makes great strides in this newly approached genre. Recognized visuals and sounds, addicting and fast-paced gameplay, and a well-done co-op mode complete with Flood wrap up Spartan Assault effectively, earning another job well done for 343, and a “Welcome aboard” for Vanguard Games.
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– Caleb Stiles