Recently, I stumbled across a 3 month free trial of Xbox Game Pass. Being an occasional penny pinching miser, I signed up. You know what that means: more Halo! So let's dig into the top down twin stick Halo shooters.
Spartan Assault is set in and around Halo 4. You play as a spartan in a simulation of important battles (that Master Chief wasn't part of). The campaign is organized into 6 operations of 5 missions each. Each mission starts you with 2 weapons, an armor ability, and a booster. Upgrading each one costs credit points. Completing missions earns a few, but they push microtransactions hard here. The most egregious part is that these upgrades only last for one mission! What a rip off!
Spartan Strike is set during Halo 2 and 4, playing as another spartan in a simulator. (There is a "then 5 years later" part to the story.) The campaign is organized into 5 operations of 6 missions each. However, you need to have gold stars on every mission of every previous operation to unlock the last one. Strike hands out credit points more liberally, though you can still buy them, but it's not as pushy. Each mission has special challenges, like kill a number of a specific enemy type with a specific weapon. Completing these awards more points.
Despite being squarely in the 343 era, both keep the Bungie artstyle. That said, you fight both Covenant and Promethean enemies. Just like Halo 4, the Promethean knights' teleport ability is just as annoying and stupidly used as I remember. Both games look, sound, and feel the same. Granted, fidelity isn't great, because both were designed for phones, however, on my 4k displays, they look fine. What's not cool is that the controls are not remappable. I love to remap melee attack and throw grenade to my mouse, but I can't here.
Gameplay is simplistic, and objectives are shown prominently. Weapons and armor abilities are ripped from the mainline series. But which ones are which are somewhat mysterious, as they only display as icons in the HUD and when near them in the main play area. (They aren't labeled except in the initial loadout screen.) Unlike the main games, you can shoot the turret on the warthog while driving. When using vehicle mounted turrets, the bullets disappear after some distance, making you unable to hit enemies at the edges of your screen. I wish the pause menu would display your progress on the challenges. At least it keeps progress between tries (i.e. you don't need to kill 50 elites with a pistol in one life).
Due to the microtransaction pushing, I'm surprised that these still cost anything and aren't free to play. Since both were cheaply made, and are several years old at this point, they've no doubt recouped all development costs by now. If you feel you must play these, wait for a sale and pay less than 99 cents each.