As if running out of new stories to be told of the valiant super-soldiers known as Spartans, developers 343 Industries and Vanguard Games introduce the successor to Halo: Spartan Assault. Offering essentially the equivalent approach to gameplay with slight variants found in weaponry, equipment and visual enhancements, players embark on a series of war games simulating fictional historical events.
Halo: Spartan Strike takes place after the events Halo 4, with you filling the role as a Spartan IV combatant leading the UNSC forces against Covenant and Promethean enemies within a combat simulation set during the event of Halo 2 on New Mombasa, much like in Halo 3: ODST.
While there is no real story here adding to the over-arching Halo lore, Halo: Spartan Strike focuses on the exploits of a battle tested Spartan who at every turn is confronted with difficult objectives throughout. Along for the ride, your Spartan is in constant communication with a helpful female commander who lays out your every objective, complimenting you along the way for your bravery and near brushes with death.
Following in-line with its predecessor, the gameplay travels along the same simple path as an impressive pick up and play, top-down, third-person dual stick analog shooter. Our playthrough was championed utilizing the Dualshock 4 controller – [how dare we play a Microsoft game with a Sony controller, utter blasphemy, we understand]. Moving on, while the left toggle controls movement, the right toggle controls the direction of your weapon’s aim and fire, making the combat exchange quick and intuitive.
Aside from the top-down perspective, like Spartan Assault, Spartan Strike very much feels like an entertaining Halo experience. Players can dual-wield those rapid-firing SMG’s, punish with the classic battle rifle, in addition to using all-new weapons such as the Suppressor, Scatter Shot, Incineration Cannon (personal fav) and Binary Rifle. New armor abilities are also introduced, such as the useful Airstrike, Teleport, Bubble Shield, Proximity Mine and Shock Chain. Sticky, frag, incinerary and emp grenades make a return with the newly added pineapple grenades to spice up the action.
There are a total of five military operations, each with six missions which progressively become more difficult as the stake are raised, forcing players lean towards their weapons of choice. In order to open the 5th military operation (E), players are required to show their battlefield prowess by accomplishing more detailed and difficult feats in previous missions. Much has not changed as each mission can be completed with a bronze, silver or gold star, depending on your score. The higher the score, the more XP you receive.
Purchase boosters, weapons and armor abilities with XP for the incoming mission, again if you’ve played Halo: Spartan Assault you’ve certainly been here before as much hasn’t changed.
Visuals have been tightened up this time around with the environment and character models receiving more polish. Facing off against the might of the Prometheans and Covenant forces in certain levels give way to eye-opening impressive background aerial skirmishes, adding to the idea of an epic battle with you in the center.
For a pick up and play Halo experience, its really all here, aside from the lack of a significant narrative. We highly recommend playing Halo: Spartan Strike with headsets as the games sound design, ambient overtones and classic Halo music truly captures the essence of the popular universe.
However, I would be remiss not to point out how beneficial it would be in allowing players to cooperatively engage in this Halo experience together, side-by-side, with up to 4-players embarking on near impossible missions, only the most skilled Spartans could tackle. Not to make comparisons, yet there is no debating the cooperative joy experienced while playing Diablo 3, Helldivers and The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing with your buds.
On its own Halo: Spartan Strike is a fun bite-size experience for what it has to offer, unfortunately in light of the ambitions of other top-down shooters, Halo: Spartan Strike quickly loses it ability to keep your attention as there isn’t much here dynamically innovating what we’ve already played with its predecessor.
Halo fans looking for a quick fix of Halo delights might be entertained by what Spartan Strike has to offer, yet if you’re looking for some form of Halo 5: Guardians tie-in, original narrative, cooperative play or enhanced gameplay over the previous offering, you might be disappointed.