Now for the last few random Halo games not included in the Master Chef Collection (I don’t care. I’m just going to keep calling him Master Chef.) Starting with…
Oh boy! A RTS based on a first person shooter, played with a controller on a console! How could this possibly be good? I would never even consider playing this if I wasn’t enjoying all these Halo games so much lately. Funny thing though…it was actually pretty good.
Whoever designed the controls on this did a great job. Switching between unit types, separate groups of units, and your base(s) is impressively easy and fast. Cursor sensitivity is just right for the 360 controller so movement and selection was surprisingly accurate. Hardcore strategy fans might find the base/unit building and the actual amount of strategy involved in the combat a little too simple and streamlined for their tastes, but I didn’t mind. It had a lot of great, big battles and some pretty interesting levels with many of them based on unique objectives to make a nice change from the standard “build up a base and a big army and crush the other guy’s base” levels, though those were pretty fun still too.
This was the last one that Bungie actually worked on apparently. Massively different feeling than ODST. This felt more like a full fledged Halo game instead of just a spinoff. This is another prequel game that takes place before Halo 1, detailing the fall of Reach that kept getting mentioned back in the older games. The story, as usual, was pretty minimal, but interesting enough. The gameplay was everything ODST was not. Interesting new levels, new weapons, new vehicles, and a few great unique vehicle-based levels like one where you pilot a Pelican around the city at night getting into various fights and landing to enter buildings to do little side missions, and even a space sim level.
The graphics were really good for a 360 game too. I think it actually looked better as a straight 360 game than ODST did after being remastered for the collection. As much as I enjoyed this one, I’m kind of running out of things to say about these games. There’s only so many ways I can describe how “there’s lots of very similar, but very fun shooting and stuff”. We’re almost to the end here though. Next up is…
This was a weird one. It’s a top down, arcade style dual stick shooter.
It’s also presented in the form of simulated historical missions, which play out as selections of a bunch of very short little levels. The format makes sense, I guess, considering that this game was originally released with Windows touchscreen tablets in mind. You can tell it’s a bit “phone-gamey”, but it has its moments.
Story is completely negligible. Pointless micro-transactions are silly, but very easily ignored. A very short and simple game, but fun for what it is: a mindless arcade shooter that just happens to use the Halo world as its template. Anyway…last, but…actually totally least…
Spartan Strike is the follow-up to Spartan Assault. I say follow-up, as opposed to sequel, because the story is entirely unrelated and negligible again, though this one does follow somewhat of a single story instead of SA’s several chunks of various historical battles. Point being, they have no relation other than using almost the exact same gameplay mechanics. More arcade shootery.
The gameplay changes are so minor that I won’t even bother mentioning them. It’s really just more of the same, which is good and bad for all the same reasons.
There’s only one noteworthy difference in this one, which is the same thing that kind of soured me on the game, the fact that once you finish 4 out of 5 chunks of missions, the game tells you “sorry, you can’t play the last set of missions because you didn’t get a gold rank on every single mission!”. Fucking really? So now you can either go back and replay half or more of the game over and over again until you get gold ranks on all of them naturally or you can buy score multiplier powerups at the beginning of each level to get an almost certain gold. If you have actually been spending your earned “xp” on anything throughout the game, because why would you think you shouldn’t until you find this out, then you’ll have little to none left to buy score multipliers so damn, I guess if you don’t want to spend hours of grinding the same levels over and over again then you better buy some good old Spartan Strike credits for real money, which I’m very sure was not the entire motivation behind this design decision. Luckily I didn’t spend any of mine the whole time, so I had enough saved up by the end for each mission I had to go back and redo…and damn it, I did them all and finished that damn locked chapter because I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let some halfassed microtransaction scam mechanic stop me from finishing this game. Blargh.
Anyway…that’s me all caught up on this series. In the end, despite the shifty shenanigans of Spartan Strike (say that three times fast), I have really enjoyed the Halo experience and can safely say that there really is something to most of the hype always surrounding it. All that’s left now is the newly released Halo 5, which I’ll excitedly get started on in a few days.