When Halo: Spartan Assault came out earlier this year for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, everyone knew that it was only a matter of time until a console counterpart would release. Launching with a brand new Co-Op mode, Spartan Assault for the Xbox One will cost you more than double the original price, and while it is the first Halo game on the Xbox One, is it worth playing?
Taking place between Halo 3 and Halo 4, you play as Spartan Sarah Palmer, and Spartan Davis as they fight Covenant forces on Draetheus-V and its Forerunner constructed moon. While nothing groundbreaking, Spartan Assault’s narrative is a welcomed addition to the Halo universe.
With six sets of five missions, totaling 30 in all, there are a lot of locations to visit, and most of them are varied and interesting. Despite the amount of missions, Halo: Spartan Assault is not that long. Individual missions range from 5-10 minutes, and being that this was a mobile game first, it is not surprising. However, you can add skulls to increase the difficulty, thus lengthening the game. Also, because of their short length, missions have no checkpoints, so death will result in restarting the level.
What is abundantly clear from the start of Spartan Assault is that this is a Halo game. Everything, from the visuals of Dreathus-V to the familiar sound of a UNSC Magnum feels just like any other Halo title. It is as if the camera was pulled from a first person perspective into an overhead view. There were no compromises with visual aesthetic, and audio quality. It is all top notch, and definitely Halo.
Unlike the mobile versions, the Spartan Assault for the Xbox One has fantastic controls. The virtual controls on a touchscreen are never an ideal method of input, but with the complexity of Halo: Spartan Assault, it was rendered nearly unplayable. With the Xbox One controller, playing Spartan Assault has been made much more enjoyable. Not only does it feel more natural and responsive, but when I was killed, it was because of my lack of skill and finesse, not the game’s poor method of control.
Despite some major improvements due to the controller, there were some fairly substantial technical bugs looming around Halo: Spartan Assault. There were times when I would release the trigger to stop shooting, but the weapon would not stop firing, and the only way to halt the process was to press the trigger again. A far more severe error was when the game flat out crashed and brought me back to the Xbox One home screen. I have only had a game crash on me once before on consoles, and this, coming from a Halo game, is downright unacceptable.
The Co-op maps are a welcomed addition to Halo: Spartan Assault. While it is only a two player mode without local functionality, there are 5 brand new levels to play, and a whole new enemy to fight, the Flood. There is also a brand new set of weapons to choose from, which helps to freshen up the experience.
Having played the Windows Phone 8, Windows 8, and Xbox One version, I appreciate that it carries campaign progress across platforms, but it baffles me that things like achievements and challenges do not carry over as well. While a non-unified achievement pool is something Microsoft needs to deal with on a system wide level, things such as game specific statistics, and challenges should carry over no matter what.