343 Industries has revealed its latest title in the Halo series – Halo: Spartan Assault – and it's designed from the ground-up for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 devices.
We met up with 343 Industries' Executive Producer Dan Ayoub in London last week for a sneak preview of the latest non-console Halo title. Here's everything you need to know.
story and gameplay
Halo: Spartan Assault focuses on 25 levels which see you step into the shoes (well, big metal boots) of a Spartan IV soldier, with each level representing a training simulation reliving classic battles from the past.
Gameplay is different from the first person shooter style of past Halo titles, with a top-down camera view and touch controls taking centre stage for the first time.
This is obviously a big step away from traditional Halo titles and was a design choice made to offer a solid touchscreen experience as opposed to a flaky first-person one.
You can choose to destroy covenant scum while waiting 5 minutes for the bus or the hardcore among you can churn through the entire game in around two hours.
Any touchscreen game is made or broken by its controls, and we're happy to report that 343 Industries has made some very solid touchscreen design decisions.
Halo: Spartan Assault has two onscreen thumb pads which can freely move across the screen, tracking the centre of your thumbs the entire time, ensuring that you never slip out of the control area.
This makes for a much more fluid and natural touch controls, with the left thumb controlling movement and the right taking care of aiming and firing weapons. A right thumb double-tap will also have your Spartan bash an Elite around the face with a melee attack, which is nice.
This system, coupled with the top-down camera angle, means that your thumbs will never obstruct the action – your Spartan is constantly locked centre-stage of the action. Just the way we like it.
If you're gaming on a Windows 8 tablet then you can also plug in an Xbox 360 controller or a keyboard and mouse for something a little more physical.
weapons and abilities
Halo: Spartan Assault will feature new weapons, loadouts and abilities. Although we didn't spend long enough with it to sample everything, we were fans of the EMP-like ability which knocked Covenant enemies within the blast radius to the ground.
The classic Halo weapons including the shotgun, dual SMGs and plasma rifle are all present and accounted for and there will of course be some vehicle action for those looking to burn some heavy duty rubber.
graphics and sound
The universe is unmistakably Halo, from the bold bright colours to the weapon blast noises which will be instantly recognisable to any Halo veteran. A freshly recorded soundtrack and crisp punchy graphics with cinematic cutscenes to progress the storyline will also envelop fans in the Halo universe.
availability, platforms and pricing
Halo: Spartan Assault will be available in July for US$7 (non-US prices have yet to be confirmed) on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 devices. There are no plans to bring it to iOS, Android or Xbox Live arcade at this time, but we'll be sure to let you know if that changes in future.
For more info check out halowaypoint.com