Halo: Spartan Assault / Spartan Strike
The Microsoft franchise wages war on alien terrain
£7.99 Developer Microsoft, halowaypoint.com
Works with iPhone, iPod touch, iPad
The story of Halo isn’t Master Chief saving the Earth from religious fundamentalist aliens; it’s about a franchise saving Microsoft’s Xbox from the scrap heap. With Spartan Assault and Spartan Strike, Halo invades the alien world of iOS. These sibling shooters (available as a two-for-one bundle) distil Halo – shooting, driving, shooting while driving – into a tiny package, with mixed results.
Spartan Assault and Spartan Strike look and quack like Halo: environments are authentic, guns behave as Xbox veterans would expect and you can even hijack a Wraith tank to rain purple plasma death on the Covenant. But the controls are somewhat ropey: lobbing grenades is an exercise in explosive frustration and switching weapons can become a fatal faff. On an iPhone 5S, text is microscopic and thumbs obscure the view, but there’s plenty of room on the iPad. Spartan Strike is more refined, with an interesting story running parallel to Halo 2, but there’s little to truly differentiate them.
Both offer bite-sized nuggets of confrontation and track high scores for posterity. They put the ‘fun’ in perfunctory, offering an enjoyable afternoon’s blasting and not a lot more. These games are recognisably Halo yet lack the special sauce of the Xbox series: the compelling space melodrama of Chief and Cortana, the grandiose battles with superior artificial intelligence. You’ll be entertained, but may be clamouring for the real thing.
Smart, challenging enemies
Authentic Halo experience
Where’s Master Chief?
Good luck aiming grenades
The package is a delightful Halo fix for series fans and an enjoyable distraction for the rest of us.
It wouldn’t be Halo without gigantic explosions invading the screen at almost every opportunity.