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Windows 8  header logo

Halo: Spartan Assault

For: Windows 8   Also on: Windows Phone

Halo good looking

Product: Halo: Spartan Assault | Developer: Vanguard Games | Publisher: Microsoft Studios | Format: Windows 8 | Genre: Shooter | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Halo: Spartan Assault Windows 8, thumbnail 1
Halo: Spartan Assault isn't enough to make you buy a Windows-powered device, no matter how much Microsoft wishes it were.

One game was never going to do that. What it is, however, is a spectacular, polished twin-stick shooter that gives Windows Phone and Windows 8 gamers something to crow about.

It's by no means a perfect game, but it tickles the sweet spot that only the very best top-down blasters can reach.

Its arcade gameplay is bite-sized but filling, its lore interesting enough to woo Halo fans, and its crunchy rhythm of dodge and fire creates an addictive challenge.

No, it won't make you fork out for a new phone or tablet, but if you already own one that can run it you're in for a rare and beguiling treat.

Assault and battery

The game is actually a game within a game. You're playing a Spartan training program that recreates a battle from the Human-Covenant War. There are 25 levels for you to blast through, each with a three-star rating system.

A floating stick on the left of the screen moves you around and one on the right aims your gun. A variety of buttons are arranged within easy reach of your thumbs letting you swap between your two weapons, hurl grenades, and interact with the world around you.

Each level lasts about ten minutes, and sets you a number of objectives. These range from killing everything in an area to escorting enormous transports as they slowly and precariously make their way over choke point bridges.

The violence is tense and focused, and a clever radar and walled-off arenas mean you're never far away from something to shoot. For each level you're given a loadout of weapons, grenades, and armour abilities, but you can change these by spending credits or XP.

Far from spartan

You can also set Skulls for each level. These increase the difficulty but give you bigger rewards. One gives you just a shield, for example, while another makes firing weapons damage you. Adding combinations of these before play gives you an XP multiplier but makes the game an awful lot tougher.

IAPs explained
You can buy credits to add boosters and upgrades to your weapons and armour. The only way to get these is to spend real-life cash.

They come in bundles ranging from 500 for £2.19 up to 10,000 for £28.99.

If you want to go into a level fully tooled, then it'll cost you about 200 credits.

There's no need to buy them, though. And while they do make the game easier, it's still spectacular fun without having to spend another penny.
Like in most Halo games, the vehicle controls here are still somehow slightly wonky, even though they're the same in principle as the ones when you're on foot. Getting tanks stuck on scenery is a sometimes hilarious frustration, but it can spoil your fun.

Halo: Spartan Assault isn't quite as tactical as its FPS kin. There's the same rush-in, rush-out beats, where you'll dodge out of a combat to let you shield recharge before you dive back into the fray, but the smaller arenas mean there's less chance to flank or divide and conquer.

The enemy AI isn't perfect either, with some Covenant forces only leaping into life when you're close enough to execute them.

Shoot to thrill

These are minor niggles, though, because the crash and spectacle of the piece is enough to sate even the most cynical of detractors. The rattle of assault rifles and the pew-pew of the Covenant's lasers feel just as exciting when they're coming out of a portable device, and the Halo universe works brilliantly from a different viewing angle.

It won't sell hardware, but this is a rich and enjoyable arcade blaster with enough content and challenge to keep you playing for a good couple of days. The lack of multiplayer is a bit of a sore spot, but it is promised in the not-too-distant future.

Halo: Spartan Assault shows the potential of Windows-powered tablets and phones as gaming machines. Microsoft, 343, and Vanguard have shown the way - now it's up to the rest of the game-developing world to take notice.
Halo: Spartan Assault
Reviewer photo
Harry Slater | 19 July 2013
Bright and a little bit brilliant. If you own a device that can run Halo: Spartan Assault, you should definitely give it a try
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Show: Latest | Oldest
Jul 2013
Post count:
@THEBIGBEN2012 | 11:07 - 14 November 2013
Im stuck in one level help me please!!! pocket gamer for cheats
Aug 2013
Post count:
Mothreja Jay | 13:25 - 22 October 2013
The best WP game. A sequel would be awesome. Along with more dlc of course.

Aug 2013
Post count:
Mothreja Jay | 11:47 - 8 October 2013
More of this^

Use Xbox Live MS!!! Make more Halo!

WP8 needs more!
Jan 2010
Post count:
curtisrshideler | 14:39 - 6 August 2013
Bet they would've sold devices had they decided to port the first Halo. It sold Xbox's, that's for sure.
Jul 2012
Post count:
keith.andrew | 21:55 - 25 July 2013
I believe it *does* work with Xbox 360 controllers on PC - or at least, it will do soon.
Aug 2012
Post count:
RockinIt | 20:51 - 22 July 2013
@Jeffro, I've been using Windows 8 since it launched, but never paid for a Metro/New UI app, all my gaming is done via Steam or Origin. I would have bought Halo but it's pointless without X-Box 360 controller support.

Oh well I'll stick to Bioshock Infinite, Borderlands 2, Tomb Raider and all the other awesome games I bought from Steam this week which cost just a little bit more than this half assed Microjunk product
Aug 2012
Post count:
Jeffro Bodine | 15:29 - 21 July 2013
Awesome! A dual stick shooter that DOESN'T SUPPORT CONTROLLERS on the PC! What kind of idiotic move is this? Isn't this something that should have been added prior to launch instead of weeks after via a patch?!
Jul 2012
Post count:
Contest Chris | 14:29 - 20 July 2013
@Virgil, what exactly are the control issues with a keyboard?
Jul 2013
Post count:
Virgil Cooper | 07:17 - 20 July 2013
This game looks great! The game sounds great! It even has a great price... But I want to throw my Laptop off a cliff because the controls are soooo.... Blanking.... Frustrating. This review is pretty much right on... Except its playing down how terrible the controls are on the PC version by only reviewing the touch version(s). I agree the levels are to quick and the enemies are pushovers... But I haven't used the skulls yet. It would be nice to have Legendary or Heroic difficulty. I have my account linked with XBL and the special unlock in waypoint is Glitched so I can't see the secret freebie I am suppose to get for getting the Rookie achievement :(. This game deserves a 9.5 or at least a 9. But sadly, the PC version I played (only) deserves a 7 until they improve the controls, by allowing controller support.

I would also recommend some hidden items in the game, but it looks like this was pushed out to fast to add another level of replay ability.
Jan 2013
Post count:
William Hartman | 02:00 - 20 July 2013
I wouldn't waste my money on a Windows 8 Tablet (at least not yet, as the Pro ones are the only ones worth anything, imo), but there is a perfectly good way of having one without the cost or Bs....

Although better using a widescreen Android tablet (The display is "letterboxed" on iPads using this method), you can do the following with ANY iOS or Android device. Download Splashtop Streamer for whatever Windows 8 PC you have. Download Splashtop Remote Desktop (Personal) for whatever mobile device you use.

Instant Windows 8 Tablet without actually having to purchase one (given that you at least have a Windows 8 PC handy to remote to). It works flawlessly on a local network connection with my Nexus 7 and also with my previous Xoom tablet. The iPad is a bit wonky in it's execution (I've had sound drop in/out and the letterboxing isn't ideal), but it still works. Instant access to any Windows 8 "exclusive" game that you want to play on a tablet, but don't want to shell out 1,300 bucks for a Surface Pro.
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