Halo Spartan Assault at E3 2013
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Get a first look at Halo: Spartan Assault for Windows Phone 8

The Windows Phone Central crew is down here at E3 to bring you the latest in gaming. While E3 isn’t heavily focused on mobile gaming, there are some treats to be found on the showroom floor if you’re wanting to get your game on with Windows Phone. One game that is highly anticipated in the community is Halo: Spartan Assault. It’s a twin-stick, top-down shooter for both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. Videos after the break.

Windows Phone 8

Most of your mobile gaming probably takes place on your smartphone. They’re easier and more convenient to lug around than even a tablet. So how’s Spartan Assault on them? Not bad at all. Screen real estate is obviously a luxury on smartphones, even among devices in the 4.5 inch range like the Lumia 928. But Spartan Assault worked well in the few minutes we played with the device in the Xbox press lounge. The current build of the game had only one level on the device but was still able to give us an example of the overall experience you’ll be getting sometime in July. We even managed to snag some screenshots of the game for anybody at work without access to YouTube.

Halo Spartan Assault SC 1
Main menu and mission brief (click to enlarge)

Halo Spartan Assault SC 2
Halo: Spartan Assault gameplay and post game awards (click to enlarge)

Windows 8

Windows 8 is where I think Spartan Assault will really shine. The larger screen real estate works out to more rooms for controls and you aren’t blocking the action with your fatty mcfatfat thumbs. Just by luck when we were playing with the Windows 8 version Graeme Jennings sat at the chair next to us to rest up before he hit the showroom floor. You’ll remember him as the senior producer at 343 Industries that we interviewed a few weeks back in Santa Monica. He shared some interesting insight into the game and how it will run on Windows 8 vs. Windows RT. Right now on the Surface Pro you’ll get 60 frames-per-second when playing Spartan Assault. Obviously the weaker performing Surface RT won’t be getting rates that high, but still gets a respectable 30 frames-per-second.

Long gaming periods probably won’t be a blast on a device as heavy as the Surface Pro (Bro, do you even lift?). But with the future of Windows 8.1 bringing better support for tablets in the 7-8 inch range I think we’ll have a winning combo with those devices and Halo: Spartan Assault.

What do you guys think of the game so far? Buying it for just Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8? Or are you going to be like me and get both on day 1. Halo: Spartan Assault is coming to Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 sometime in July for the price of $6.99 each.

P.S. Don’t’ forget to grab these Spartan Assault wallpapers.

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Reader comments

Get a first look at Halo: Spartan Assault for Windows Phone 8

111 Comments

I'll be getting in on my surface first, and then maybe phone just for achievements, if its as good as it looks

Here's how to get it for free right now on a Lumia phone:
1. Go to phone setting
2. Change region to India (not language)
3. Restart phone
4. Go to marketplace and download it for free.
5. Change back region and enjoy!

I'm saying they should sell a special edition phone with Spartan preinstalled, and give a $100 discount, to those who buy it, on a new XBO!! This is a terrific idea!!

Hrm... not a fan of the "thumbsticks on the screen". I need tactile response otherwise my thumbs wander all over the place. Also, another thing that bugs me with the current state of mobile gaming is so many games require you to put your hands all over the screen essentially covering up what you're trying to look at.

Same issues here... but what can they do? The only thing I can think of is a hardware accessory. I sure would live an Xbox controller that mounts to the screen. But most people will have to make do with touch...

The problem stems from their choice of game style. It's been shown you can't really do an FPS-style game on a touch device (iD tried to do it with their on-rails Rage game) which leaves you with only a third person game or what they settled for, the top-down shooter.
I had the zombie game on iPhone (can't remember what it was called) with the same controls as this and played it for about 5 minutes and never touched it again. Same goes for the Mass Effect third person shooter on WP8. If the controls "don't work" for me then I'm not going to play.
Another issue is the two-handed game. The perfect mobile game (for me) is a portrait oriented, set-up and watch type game. Part of Angry Birds' success is the set up and watch style of play where you don't need to keep your hands on the screen and you can play it on the bus or train without fear of losing because of a bumpy road.
I saw at E3 (via blogs) that MadCatz (I think) have already got a small stand to attach your Windows Phone to the new Xbox One controller to use as a second screen. If they could get the controller to work with the phone that'd be great although not exactly portable. 

Twin-stick shooters work just fine on touch screen devices. Yes, there's a learning curve, but if you actually put the time into it, you'd get the hang of it too. What you're doing is giving up because it's different. That's your right, but it also keeps you from enjoying these great mobile experiences.

Well, this was addressed in the interview for this game (well, one of them). This game's built to expect your hands to wander. As the interviewee stated, the tocuh input will follow you. If your hands drift up, so will the expected point of reference for the thumbsticks. The guy said if your thumbs drift to the top of the phone, the sticks will as well. That means the drifting issue won't lead to complete loss of control like in most twin-stick games (happened a lot for me on Gun Bros.). This game will compensate and continue to play smoothly.

I specifically was watching the left thumb of the demoer to see if the Spartan would suddenly stop if the thumbs wandered past a designated boundary but you can see the direction stick boundary move along the bottom left corner, seems like they have a pretty decent solution.

I guess I'll just have to try it and see. I'm likely to buy the game just to support the devs and the platform anyway. Also... cheevos.

Well, the touch works, you just need training and I mean hours of training. Modern Combat 4 is good example. There you can freely locate your stick and button layout as you wish, but still, it needs hours of training before you can really play and not concentrate controlling the aim and movement.
 

Too bad you can't just plug your Xbox controller into your phone huh? Just like on the Surface. I personally hate touch games, but this, I will definitely buy. Looks promising! Surface does work with a Xbox controller. But only after the first update of the game tho.

Its a shame as that would solve many of the issues. Esp if the controller had like a pop out thing to hold the phone securely.

Great developments for the WP platform lately, be it games or expected os update (wp8.1) or influencing iOS7.. :P
WP ftw. :)

This exactly .. Even today I cannot dare to play Temple Run for more than 15 mins on my Lumia 920. It gets really hot & battery drainage is amazing !
How about you all guys ? .. or is it me only ?

So how will this go on Windows 8 devices without touch? Will it work at all? Is there controller support? I'd consider getting this on my Windows 8 desktop, if I am even able to play it on a non-touch device.

Ooo, controller support! If I could plug in my 360 controller and plat, that would be awesome! Otherwise I'll be playing on my Surface and MAYBE on my 920 if I really like it.

If we don't get controller support, my 920 might be the only means of playing I'll have, as I dont' know if there will be mouse/keyboard support, or even reasonable controlers for it.

You can already use the 360 controller on any windows device with a full size USB. You have to use either the wired controller or buy the PC wireless device for 360 controllers.

Does not answer my question as to how THIS GAME will react to a controller. What will be the controls, and can they be reprogrammed? I can do touch input with a controller. Also, I already have a GameStop wired controller, along with an AirFlo one. I don't NEED and controller, I just want to know how this game will use them.

And Keith, while you can use controllers on Win8 devices, controller support for this game will come post launch. Sorry if I caused any confusion.

We covered all that in our day one announcement articles, Keith. As for reprogramming the controls, I don't think you can adjust much besides sensitivity. I could be remembering wrong though.

And of course it works on non-touch Windows 8 devices. There's not a single Xbox Windows 8 game that doesn't.

I will be buying this day one for my 920. Maybe on Windows 8 after seeing how it plays on the phone.

You can use the 360 controller on Surface already. It has a full size USB, so either use the wired controller or buy the wireless PC device and play wirelessly. Its pretty cool.

Jason you have no idea what the difference is between supported by the device and supported by the game. Posting that link makes you look more foolish than you could possibly know.

He asked if there was controller support for the Surface.
@OldSchool.... If you want to know if there will be controller support specifically for this game; the answer is yes, but post-launch. Again, I apologize if I've caused any confusion.

Hey it's cool and sorry if I wasn't clear on the question. I knew about native support for the device but was wondering about game support for the controller. I didn't know about the wireless dongle so thanks for that.

Can't wait to play this. WP8 will be the first phone to have a truly platform defining game franchise. There maybe apps that used to be synonomous with iOS only like Path and Instagram but those eventually went to Android (maybe Instapaper still is), but no games. If you say what is the go to game for Android or iOS people may rattle off their favorites but it won't be the same way that Halo will become part of the gaming identity of the WP8 (and beyond) platform. It's nice change for the WP community to get a little bit of exclusivity once in a while.

I'm sad now. My Surface RT with Limited Edition Year of The Snake touch keyboard was stolen. I used to play games on it with my 360 controller because I had that PC wireless attachment. I loved my full sized USB port! I'll still buy this game for my Win8 laptop, but I seriously miss my surface. They should have put GPS in it along with some tracking software. Oh, and make it harder to do a factory reset on.

I meant specifically for this game seven... And the dongle is only for wireless 360 controllers. Wired ones hook directly.

Oh ok lol, sorry then. It would be very cool to be able to do that, I wonder why more W8 games haven't implemented that yet.

For the X1 controllers using WiFi-Direct for wireless and Micro-USB cords for wired, and given that Windows 8.1 is supposed to implement WiFi-Direct, I hope we see a lot more cross functionality with the controllers and games.

Support for the Xbox 360 controller on the Windows 8 version is coming in a later update. Won't be there at launch. 

Finally a proper game. None of this angry birds where's my water puzzle bullshit or some half arse ripoff from gameloft

It will totally work with the Xbox 360 controller...after an update after launch. They're working on it, but it won't be ready day 1. 

If I can play this with my Xbox controller plugged in (Surface RT), I will definitely buy it!
Edit: Oke, after an update this is possible. Lookin fwd to it!

I hope this video is a testament that when the game is released in one month it will still be stable. Complex games like that on a phone often have stability issues in my eperience so far on windows phone.

Well the controls seems a lot better than I thought. Still wouldn't play a fps game without proper analog sticks (watching NOVA video made me cringe at how awful the games are). This reminds me of Killzone Liberation, a top down game on PSP based on the FPS franchise. A fun game that was, and this looks like it will as well.

I hope these bigger named developers don't get discouraged by the number of downloads some of these more popular games are getting on here, I am surprised at some of the numbers. I thought it would be more.

Heck yea. Thanks bro. Well I can't download it yet lol. Do you know what region you can download it in. I'm on a 920 btw

Apparently India. Guess ur lucky as its Lumia only although its seen running on a HTC 8X in Pauls review the other day?!?!

This will have to be played with a charging cord connected. It looks great, and for that reason, an energy hog.

I just baught a Vita and it made me realize how much gaming on a cell phone sucks.
Notice how his thumb slowly just slides up the screen while playing.  Having said that I do love playing NFSHP.

if you buy it for Windows 8, are you entitled to it for Windows RT?  Or do you have to buy it again?  I want to buy it primarily for my Win8 machine but also want to play it on my Surface RT.