Following off the heels of the relatively successful Spartan Assault, comes the sequel. In the same way that Spartan Assault set up for Halo 4, Spartan Strike sets up for Halo 5. It does this by showing events from Halo 2 from a different perspective (and effectively explains where the Conduit came from). I felt like the story was told a little better than the previous game. Things flow a lot better and there aren't weird gaps in the story. This improvement actually carries over to the level progression as well.
Each chapter of the game feels like its own cohesive package, rather than a cut up mess like the previous entry. Levels follow right after each other and each chapter tells a complete story. For example, if I finish one level where my objective was to acquire a Scorpion tank, the next level would start off with me in the tank exactly where the last level left off. I was really happy with this. The story overall is still mostly simple, but this helps give a bit more direction to the game rather than feeling like a random set of scenarios. Playing off of that, none of the levels really feel the same. There are plenty of fun scenarios and fun vehicles thrown at you, which helps to make the game feel fun throughout the whole experience.
At its core, it is still top-down shooter like its predecessor. The concept is simple, and the gameplay takes advantage of the simplicity. The first game did a really good job of adding a very 'Halo' feel to a tried and true genre, and this game continues that tradition. The weapons, abilities, vehicles and enemies feels just like Halo 4. The addition of the Prometheans as an enemy helps to give this game a new dynamic that wasn't present in the original. The Prometheans are some of the most challenging enemies in the series so far, and they did a good job of capturing that challenge in Spartan Strike.
There are many minor improvements that were made to the game that help make it play better as well. The aiming is much better, the enemies feel smarter, the scoring system feels fairer and most importantly: there are no micro transactions. All the points are acquired only from gameplay in order to unlock boosts for help when needed. All the same skulls, which serve as difficulty modifiers, are present in the game. My one complaint is that the final chapter requires that you get gold stars in all missions (which requires meeting a certain score per mission). It's not entirely challenging, but it is a little irritating if you're the type of person who would like to just run through a game for the story or just for some quick fun.
The game looks good for a mobile game, but doesn't look like an improvement over its predecessor. That's not a complaint though, since it looks nice still. The sound is done well and aesthetically, the game is certainly pleasing as well.
With 25 missions, a good amount of level variety, a good level of enemy and arsenal variety and a much improved story, you'd expect the game to be perfect. There are a few glaring problems that prevent this game from standing out as being one of the best top-down shooters out there. First of all, the co-op feature that was present from the first game was completely removed. Even though the co-op was minimal, it was really fun, so it's a huge bummer that this game doesn't contain it at all. As a result of this, the game feels shorter than it should. Another problem is that the game feels significantly easier than the first game overall. Points (for unlocking boosts) are easy to come by now, which makes getting par scores easy. Time isn't even a factor for the score at all anymore. Since the points are so easy to come by, it's hard to be motivated to use skulls to increasing the amount of points you get, whereas in the first game you almost always needed skulls to hit par. The reason for this is that the skulls add to your CR points rather than your level score. My final complaint is that the game isn't available on the Xbox 360 or Xbox One this time around. The Halo community will own one of these consoles, so not releasing a game that mainly caters to Xbox owners seems kind of silly. Speaking of which, accomplishing tasks in Halo: The Master Chief Collection will unlock CR points in this game and completing tasks in this game can unlock things in Master Chief Collection as well. It's a neat benefit.
Besides these issues, this is a much improved sequel over the original. If you're into top-down shooters, this is a fun and solid diversion. If you're into Halo, this game is quick and easy, and provides an interesting plot. It does a decent job of feeling unique. To top it off, the controls are responsive and the game is fun, which is ultimately all that matters.
NOTE: This review is done based on the Windows 10 version of this game. I could not find any information stating that any of the versions are any different, so choose your platform of choice and run with it (Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows Phone and iOS). The touch screen controls and playing with a controller both operate beautifully. The keyboard/mouse controls operate better than the previous installment, but is still the least recommended control style.
- Teepu (Bowser05)