Halo: Spartan Strike – the newest Halo title that you probably haven’t heard of or if you have, you wouldn’t have heard much about it. Back in October 2014, 343 Industries announced Halo: Spartan Strike, a new top-down shooter that was created in collaboration with Vanguard Games similar to 2013’s Halo: Spartan Assault.
While Halo: Spartan Strike was originally set to release in December 2014, it was delayed until April 2015.
Before we start…
Just some small notes to make before we dive into the review. To play Halo: Spartan Strike I used the following:
- Windows 8 copy of Halo: Spartan Strike
- Astro A38 Headset for sound
- Halo: Spartan Strike SpeakerTags
- Official Xbox One Controller
Also, be sure to check out our ASTRO A38 Spartan Strike Giveaway!
- Intel® Core™i5 Quad Core Processor i5-4690 (3.5GHz)
- 8GB KINGSTON HYPER-X BEAST DUAL-DDR3 2133MHz
- NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 770 – 2GB
- Windows 8.1
Is Halo: Spartan Strike Worth The Money?
I picked up my copy of Halo: Spartan Strike on Windows 8 a short while after it was made available on April 16th and like I do with every game, looked around the menus to fine tune everything to my liking. First I jumped into the Settings area to see what kind of options are available to change.
As you can probably tell from the screenshot above, the settings that game has are very scarce. While Spartan Strike doesn’t exactly need a powerful computer to run, there isn’t any options to change the games appearance for better performance. I switched my control input from mouse and keyboard to the Xbox One controller and jumped into the chapter selection screen.
Halo: Spartan Strike offers five chapters with six unique missions in each. Halo: Spartan Assault at launch offered five chapters and only five unique missions and eventually introduced an extra chapter with five more missions. Players who have played Halo: The Master Chief Collection will actually receive some bonus credits if they have completed the four Campaigns available in the game on Xbox One – specifically, 3,000 credits per Campaign completed.
Players of Halo: The Master Chief Collection will also receive an exclusive avatar featuring the unknown Spartan IV that you play as in Halo: Spartan Strike.
When you first try to play, you are shown a movie which offers a small introduction to Halo: Spartan Strike and explains the story.
To unlock Operation E in Halo: Spartan Strike, you have to have Gold stars in the previous four Operations by completing the score goals related to them which is a cool concept as it forces players to go back and improve their skills (and potentially use a Score Booster) in order to progress further. Reaching a Gold rating in the missions are fairly simple, just keep building up your multi-kills and sprees.
During the first movie, you are given a small introduction to the story of Halo: Spartan Strike. The entire game is a classified ONI simulation which takes place aboard the UNSC Infinity, you are a lone Spartan-IV who is tasked with retrieving a Forerunner artefact called the “Conduit” in New Mombasa with a 2552 setting, right after the Covenant invasion that was seen during the events of Halo 2.
This is were my main issue with Halo: Spartan Strike crops up, the story is virtually non-existent. From the get-go you are told that you’re playing a combat simulation in a virtual world that has no effect on the actual Halo storyline. You don’t learn who this Spartan is and you don’t receive any backstory on him. By the time the game ends, you still know nothing about this Spartan and nothing has been achieved.
In Halo: Spartan Assault, you are Sarah Palmer – commander of the UNSC Infinity and the lady in charge of the Spartan-IVs. You learn about her back story before the events of Halo 4 and unlike Spartan Strike, it took place in the real world rather than a huge simulation. By the end of Spartan Assault, I cared for Palmer more as a character because I know what she did to get where she is.
Throughout this review, I’ll be making a lot of comparisons to Halo: Spartan Assault because while Spartan Strike improves on a lot of Spartan Assault’s issues, it takes a few steps backwards and this is certainly one of them.
After Halo 4, many people were wondering if the old Halo-style of music was going to be laid to rest but with Halo: Spartan Assault and now Halo: Spartan Strike, it is very clear that this is not the case. Tom Salta, the composer for both Spartan Assault and Spartan Strike has managed to create some new and interesting music while retaining the old Halo feel that Marty O’ Donnell was known for. The soundtrack for Spartan Strike features 26 new tracks which all play throughout the 36 missions featured in the game.
As for the games audio like guns, enemies, etc – most, if not all of it were recycled from previous Halo titles and sadly some of the sounds are still used incorrectly. One of the issues with Spartan Assault was Drones using the Engineer sound from a previous title despite Engineers not even being present in the game. This was fixed in Halo: Spartan Strike but sadly one sound in particular is still being used incorrectly and that’s when a Promethean Sniper is about to fire their Binary Rifle. The audio cue currently used is the Promethean Turret charging noise from Halo 4.
Obviously it isn’t a huge issue and it sounds like a case of not having a fresh sound for it and the Promethean Turret sound worked great but it still sucks for those wanting to see some consistency throughout the games.
I played through Halo: Spartan Strike multiple times both with the Astro A38 headset and without, and I can tell you that this headset is a must for playing games in general. The audio quality was absolutely perfect and when worn, one of the most comfortable headsets I have ever worn. Our very own Jarrod “Clicked” Dunfee recently made an unboxing video showcasing the Astro A38 Headset, and you can check it out below.
The first level of Spartan Strike serves as a tutorial like most games these days which allows players to get familiar with controls and get a feel for the overall game. Halo: Spartan Strike makes some huge user interface improvements when compared to Spartan Assault. Below you’ll see a picture of the first level of Spartan Assault. One of the first thing you will notice is that there are black bars on the outer areas of the image while Spartan Strike fades out to faint blackness but still shows gameplay.
One of the biggest complaints about Spartan Assault was that both the top left and bottom right of the screens were simply not in use and Spartan Strike manages to take up more use of the screen but all four corners still feature minor black space.
Another big introduction to Spartan Strike was a new enemy class that should be familiar to those of you that have played Halo 4 – The Prometheans.
The Prometheans seen in Halo 4 are extremely similar to the ones present in Halo: Spartan Strike. The three enemy-types you’ll encounter during gameplay are the Knights, Watchers and Crawlers. One of the minor changes seen to the Prometheans is related to the Crawler – in Halo 4, you would normally just get hit by a Binary Rifle without any warning and on higher difficulties, die in on hit. However, in Spartan Strike you will hear a small charging noise before it eventually hits you and drains your shields.
Speaking of the Binary Rifle, Spartan Strike introduces a few new weapons into the mix that weren’t present in Halo: Spartan Assault. Players can now pick up weapons like the Incineration Cannon – a Promethean rocket launcher, the Suppressor – a Promethean SMG-style weapon, the Binary Rifle – a Promethean sniper rifle and a Pulse Grenade – a Promethean grenade which drains your shields if you are within its range.
All of these weapons seem to fit perfectly into the sandbox despite similar weapons already existing. For example, the UNSC Rocket Launcher has an ammo cap of 150 and rapidly fires rockets at enemies with a small splash damage area. The Incineration Cannon has an ammo cap of around 8 and fires one shot at enemies and when it hits something, it explodes into four separate shots and does more damage to those in the area of effect.
With Halo 4, a lot of weapons like the Incineration Cannon, Binary Rifle and Suppressor were introduced and just cloned other weapons in the sandbox and didn’t have any unique purposes but Spartan Strike seems to give each of the Promethean weapons a unique purpose that makes them worth picking up.
Armor Abilities were also a huge part of Halo: Spartan Assault and brought a few interesting strategies into the mix. Spartan Strike is no stranger to this and brings back previous armour abilities like Sprint and the Regeneration Field and introduces a few new ones like the Bubble Shield, Promethean Teleport and Mine Field.
Moving on, vehicles were featured briefly in Halo: Spartan Assault but didn’t really make use of the wide range of vehicles that both the UNSC and Covenant has. Spartan Strike once again improves on this factor by not only bringing back vehicles like the Ghost and Scorpion but also introduces some new ones like the Warthog and the Kestrel. Due to the lack of co-op in Halo: Spartan Strike, you will be manning the Warthog by yourself but fret not, you can still control the turret and rain fire down on both the Covenant and UNSC.
The Kestrel is a new vehicle that has yet to be featured in any Halo games and in fact makes its first appearance in Spartan Strike and let me tell you, it is fun as hell to be in control of. Throughout the five operations, you make use of it in a fair amount of missions and it really does pack a punch. It tears through both Covenant and Promethean forces with ease and doesn’t destroy easily.
Halo: Spartan Assault introduces one of the worst things ever to hit the gaming world and that is pay-to-win microtransactions. In Spartan Assault, players could spend real money to purchase in-game credits which would allow them to purchase microtransaction-exclusive items like the Rocket Launcher, Spartan Laser or Sniper Rifle. After a ton of complaints, 343 Industries eventually allowed players to purchase these items with XP earned from playing the game with a content update but regardless, it was worrying that Spartan Assault was looking like a quick money grab.
After the huge outcry from these microtransactions, it seems like 343 Industries truly listened and removed them entirely with Halo: Spartan Strike. While weapons like the Sniper Rifle, Rocket Launcher and Spartan Laser are still not available in normal gameplay (except for the final level), you can purchase them in your loadout for in-game XP that is earned by completing levels and challenges in Spartan Strike.
Other loadout exclusive items include the Boosters that were seen in Halo: Spartan Assault like:
- Damage Booster – increases damage output for all weapons
- Shield Booster – increases Spartan shield recharge speed
- Score Booster – increases score rewards for kills and medals
When choosing your loadout, you can also choose a variety of armour abilities like:
- Overshield – grants temporary invulnerability and an instant shield charge
- Seeker Drone – deploys an explosive homing drone
- Airstrike – multiple heavy explosions are dropped in the area around the player
Using the boosters and armor abilities are a big help if you are struggling to get through the missions. While I was going for Gold starts, I personally used both the Airstrike armor ability and Score Booster to help me out a little because I was struggling to get the minimum score needed for them.
Where is the console version?
With the launch of Halo: Spartan Assault originally only being on mobile devices, the Halo community was constantly asking for the game to be ported to the Xbox 360 and Xbox One and eventually, 343 Industries delivered when they finally released the game on both platforms late 2013/early 2014. After the overwhelming feedback that Spartan Assault had to finally come to consoles, it should have been a given that Spartan Strike would launch on at least the Xbox One at launch, right?
That wasn’t the case. As of right now, the only platforms that Halo: Spartan Strike are available on is Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, iPhone, iPad and Steam. Even though the game is intended to play with a controller that has twin-sticks; hence the genre “Twin-Stick Shooter”, there is no planned release for Spartan Strike on the Xbox One or Xbox 360.
Considering Halo is primarily a console franchise, it seems strange to not have it release on both Xbox consoles as a lot of people would simply jump on it because of the Halo name. While it is entirely possible that it will arrive at some point in the future similar to Spartan Assault, there would be a lot more people interested in the initial marketing if it launched alongside the other versions of the game. This was one of the big step backwards I was talking about when comparing both Spartan Assault and Spartan Strike – many good choices were made and sadly, some bad ones were made.
Final Thoughts and Rating
Halo: Spartan Strike is a simple and fun game to play while you have some time to kill. It is important to remember that this isn’t meant to be a big game on the scale of Halo: The Master Chief Collection or Halo 5: Guardians, it is essentially a mobile game that is meant to give you your daily Halo fix if you can’t jump onto their Xbox One. I managed to snag a copy for both Windows 8 and iPhone and have played both of them a ton and both provided me with a few hours of fun before finishing the game.
The weekly challenges which reward credits keep you coming back and the leaderboard integration allows you to compete with your friends on a per-mission basis to try and grab the top score.
Overall, I’d give Halo: Spartan Strike a 7/10. While it did go above and beyond to improve on a lot of Halo: Spartan Assault, a lot of mistakes were made that were simply step backwards from the previous title such as the story meaning pretty much nothing, the severe lack of marketing for the game and of course – the lack of a console version.
You can pick up all of the things I talked about in this article using the links below:
Halo: Spartan Strike