September 4, 2019 at 3:20 AM #1323
Halo: Spartan Assault
Rating: 2.5 – Playable
Dull beyond belief
Microsoft’s Games with Gold program is designed to compete with the PlayStation Plus program equivalent on the PS3 and PS4. Unfortunately, the Xbox One doesn’t have a lot of choices to work with currently, and so Microsoft has had to turn to some mediocre titles for the program. The first of these mediocre titles is Halo: Spartan Assault, which is perhaps the most pointless spinoff to ever be made.
Halo: Spartan Assault is obviously a spinoff of Microsoft’s flagship Halo franchise. I don’t blame Microsoft for making Halo spinoffs. In fact, they need to be capitalizing more on the series. However, cheap cash-ins like this are not the way to go about it.
The game is a twin stick shooter, except with the aesthetic, weapons, and enemies of the Halo universe. The story is inconsequential and poorly delivered, which is in stark contrast to the other games in the series. The menus are an absolute mess, making simple navigational tasks in the game a complete and utter nightmare to behold.
The actual gameplay itself is solid, though nothing special and it gets old very quickly, mainly due to a lack of challenge. The game is just simply too easy, which is even more noticeable considering the twin stick shooter genre is full of games that are extremely difficult.
I can’t fault the game for the way it controls. It has great controls, and it’s well polished. It features online co-op, leaderboards, and it technically has a lot of content. The problem is that the content isn’t fun to consume. The game feels more like a chore than it does an enjoyable experience, even when playing with a friend.
As a big fan of Halo, it’s fun to see the Halo aesthetic in bite-sized form. Beyond that, the graphics are nothing to get excited about. It’s limited due to the genre, so the visuals are serviceable, but aren’t anywhere near the level that the Xbox One is capable of producing.
One way that Microsoft is improving digital-only games is by increasing the amount of achievements that are allowed in them. Instead of simply 200 or 400 gamerscore for these "arcade" games, players can earn up to 1000 gamerscore in any of the digital only titles, including Halo: Spartan Assault. I always found it strange that Microsoft limited the achievement potential of those games on Xbox 360, as they sometimes took an even longer time commitment than the achievements in some retail games, and for less of a reward.
Halo: Spartan Assault is one of the most boring games I’ve played. It’s technically sound and it doesn’t do anything outright awful, but it also doesn’t do anything outright significant either. Even co-op can’t save this one. Microsoft is off on the wrong foot when it comes to the Games with Gold program, and I hope that we see higher quality games than this moving forward.
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