Halo: Spartan Assault
|Halo: Spartan Assault|
|Genre(s)||Twin Sticks Shooter|
Halo: Spartan Assault is a 2013 top-down twin stick shooter video game developed by 343 Industries and Vanguard Games. Part of the Halo media franchise, it was first released on July 18, 2013, for Microsoft's Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 platforms. The game was subsequently released for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, Steam and iOS platforms.
Halo: Spartan Assault is set between the events of Halo 3 and Halo 4. Players control the human soldiers Edward Davis and Sarah Palmer as they fight the alien Covenant. The game launched with 25 single-player missions, with additional content released later.
Halo: Spartan Assault is a shooter game where players view gameplay from an overhead top-down perspective. On touchscreen mobile devices, players control the character through virtual joysticks—the left stick controls movement and the right stick controls the direction of the character's fire. On Windows 8 PCs, the method of input is a keyboard and mouse, while Xbox 360 and Xbox One players use a physical gamepad.
Gameplay of Halo: Spartan Assault will earn the player experience points (XP), Achievements, and emblems for a Halo 4 Spartan career. Additional integration features were released after launch.
Halo: Spartan Assault takes place between the events of Halo 3 in 2553 and the events of Halo 4 in 2557. Following the events of Halo 3, the human UNSC and alien Covenant signed a ceasefire to end a decades-long war. It follows the early Spartan Ops' missions against the Covenant alien species and gives more background to the human-Covenant conflict. Stationed on the UNSC Infinity, gameplay is through the perspective of either Commander Sarah Palmer or Spartan Davis.
Spartans Palmer and Davis are stationed on the planet Draetheus V when it comes under attack from a rogue group of Covenant who have ignored the ceasefire. Palmer and Davis work to repel the invaders. The Covenant leadership discover that Draetheus' moon is actually a weapon built by an ancient race known as the Forerunners. The Covenant activates the weapon, tearing apart Draetheus and forcing the UNSC to evacuate. Spartan Davis gives his life to allow the remaining UNSC enough time to evacuate. Spartan Palmer tracks down the Covenant leader Merg Vol, kills him, sabotages the Forerunner weapon, and escapes the planet.
In the Operation Hydra update, Spartan Palmer returns to X50 in search of a mysterious signal. She discovers that the signal is actually a distress signal from Spartan Davis. Palmer reaches the core of X50 but finds Davis dead, with the moon using his remains to create an unnamed device that Palmer extracts.
343 Industries Executive Producer Dan Ayoub described the challenge of adapting Halo for a portable device as "how do we create the right experience for the right screen?" While focusing on optimizing the game for touch controls, the developers wanted to make sure the elements that made Halo distinctive—its weapon sandbox, abilities, and look—remained.:4'35" The focus on a mobile game experience also meant that the developers broke up the game's missions into smaller chunks for short playthroughs.:4'45"–5'15"
Tom Salta composed Spartan Assault's music. The game was the first time Salta had worked on a project where the sound had been established by another composer—Salta called the original music of Combat Evolved "sacred ground for me" and his inspiration to compose for video games. Previous to Spartan Assault Salta was part of the team that reorchestrated and recorded the music for Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.
Because the game was designed to be played on mobile devices, Salta and the music team worked to make sure audio quality would be high on small mobile speakers as well as through headphones or higher-end hardware. Since there was a limited budget for the music, Salta chose which sounds and instruments he would record live.
Spartan Assault was released in North America and Europe on July 18 and 19, respectively. In the United States, the game was initially restricted to Verizon phones before being released to all Windows 8 enabled devices. An Xbox One version of the game released on December 24, 2013, followed by an Xbox 360 version on January 31, 2014. It was released on Steam on April 4, 2014, the first game in the series to be distributed on the platform. On April 16, 2015, the game was released for iOS.
A free update to the game, Operation Hydra was released August 29. The update added new missions and achievements, the ability to buy certain power weapons with XP rather than real currency, and support for the Xbox 360 controller. A demo version of the game, featuring a tutorial and single mission, was released on August 30. Upon launch of the update, a cloud save issue was encountered for the Windows 8 version of the game, which prevented players from accessing their save files. On August 31, 2013, an update was released which fixed this issue, allowing players to access Operation Hydra without having to replay the entirety of the campaign.
Spartan Assault received mixed to positive reviews upon release; the game has a weighted aggregate rating of 70/100 on Metacritic, based on 17 reviews. Critics including Harry Slater of Pocket Gamer and Chris Carter of Destructoid wrote that while Spartan Assault was not going to be a Windows 8 killer app, it was a worthwhile purchase for gamers on the Windows 8 platform.
Multiple reviewers praised the game for its authentic Halo look and feel. Game Informer's Kyle Hillard called Spartan Assault "a true Halo game, even if the series’ signature scope and size are scaled down", with the game featuring familiar Halo moments, enemies, and sounds.
The microtransaction features of Spartan Assault were generally negatively received. While reviewers such as Destructoid's Carter felt that the microtransactions could be ignored and did not impact enjoyment of the game, Hillard wrote that "it’s hard not to feel as though an important part of the game is being withheld after buying into the agreed-upon price of admission."
GameZone's Jake Valentine gave the Xbox One version a 5/10, stating " 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."
In October 2014 Vanguard Games and 343 Industries announced the sequel to Halo: Spartan Assault under the title Halo: Spartan Strike. This game was released as a digital download for Windows 8/8.1 and Windows Phone 8/8.1 devices and Steam early in 2015.
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