Halo: Spartan Assault

Key events

Halo: Spartan Assault launches on Steam next week

Halo: Spartan Assault launches on Steam next week

Microsoft exclusive makes jump to Valve digital platform.

Microsoft's top-down twin-stick Halo spin-off Spartan Assault launches on Valve's digital platform Steam on 4th April.

There it costs $4.99.

Spartan Assault, co-developed by 343 Industries and Gatling Gears creator Vanguard Entertainment, launched exclusively on Windows 8 and Windows Phone in July 2013. It then launched on Xbox One in December 2013, and on Xbox 360 in January 2014.

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Watch us play Halo: Spartan Assault from 5pm

You say goodbye, and I say Halo.

There's a Halo game on Xbox One! Shame it's not a particularly great one, mind - Spartan Assault, a top-down action heavy spin on Microsoft's fantasy sci-fi universe, doesn't quite reach the highs of its first-person relatives, but it's enjoyable enough nevertheless.

Downloadable Xbox One games have 1000 Gamerscore

UPDATE: Microsoft confirms, "Xbox One games are games".

UPDATE: Microsoft has now officially confirmed the change in policy for Xbox One download-only games, which will have the same amount of Gamerscore as retail titles.

Halo: Spartan Assault confirmed for Xbox One and Xbox 360

Microsoft has confirmed Windows 8 game Halo: Spartan Assault for release on Xbox One and Xbox 360 this December.

On Xbox One and Xbox 360 the top down shooter features a new online co-op mode with more missions, enemies, weapons, abilities, upgrades and achievements, Microsoft said.

The single-player has 30 missions. Included with the console download is the Operation Hydra expansion for the campaign.

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Halo: Spartan Assault review

Halo: Spartan Assault review

Spartan is such sweet sorrow.

The Halo series is surprisingly well-suited for life as a twin-stick shooter. After all, part of the fun of the Spartan existence is knowing that you'll be tackling overwhelming odds - and that you'll be encouraged to ad lib and rely on the occasional moment of dumb luck as you manage the hordes surrounding you. It's hardly a shock, then, that Halo: Spartan Assault turns out to be an entertaining, if fairly throwaway, top-down blaster. Grunts flock and scatter, Elites hang back before charging and, while those famous jumping skills are MIA, most of your other supersoldier abilities have made the transition from first-person shooters intact.

Spartan Assault plays out as a series of historical missions culled from a UNSC training simulator and, conceit aside, it's business as usual. Switching between two different Spartans, it's your job to see off an invasion from a splinter sect of the Covenant who are moving in on a buried Forerunner artefact. The lore's on point, but Microsoft's made the controls a little more of a mess than they should be. On Surface and Windows 8 phones, you've got standard floating virtual thumbsticks and buttons aided by a gentle lock-on. It's a little fiddly at first on the former - and it might be a bit of a squish on the latter - yet this is probably the best way of approaching an imperfect situation.

On Windows 8 PC, however, players are left to move with WASD and aim with the mouse, while gamepad support is promised in the near future. The current set-up turns out to be acceptable for everything except steering bigger, slower vehicles like the Scorpion tank, which always seems to want to travel in a diagonal line that requires holding down two keys at once. Other PC titles have sometimes opted for this sort of thing too, of course, but, with Microsoft handling the publishing, Spartan Assault really shouldn't have launched like this - and it won't truly feel like a proper twin-stick until the pad has been patched in.

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