After announcing Halo: Spartan Assault in early June, Microsoft has finally released the top-down shooter for Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone . But as good as the game itself looks, the launch of Halo: Spartan Assault falters in a few frustrating ways.
On Windows Phone, the game is now available worldwide--except in the United States, where it's a Verizon exclusive until August 16. Why isn't the game available on other U.S. carriers? Microsoft doesn't say. Are people going to switch carriers for a video game? Unlikely.
Verizon hasn't even been the biggest supporter of Windows Phone in the past. That distinction goes to AT&T, which has routinely sold Nokia's biggest flagship phones (such as the upcoming Lumia 1020) as exclusives and even chipped in with Windows Phone marketing. For Windows Phone fans who've stuck with AT&T for its exclusive handsets, the extra wait for Halo: Spartan Assault is a slap in the face.
Even if you can get Halo: Spartan Assault on your Windows Phone, you might not want to. The game costs $6.99 on all platforms, but it's a separate purchase on phones and PCs. Although your saved games will transfer from phone to PCs, you'll have to buy the game twice for the privilege. Compare that to Apple's universal iPhone and iPad apps, or to the cross-buy capabilities that Sony has built for the Playstation 3 and PS Vita, and Microsoft looks woefully behind.
One more pain point: On Windows 8, Halo: Spartan Assault doesn't support gamepads, such as a wired Xbox 360 controller. Although Engadget reported that controller support would be added some time after launch, there's no mention of that on Microsoft's blog post or Halo's Website. For now, the game only works with touch or mouse and keyboard.
Halo: Spartan Assault does look like a solid game, with a different perspective on the tactical running and gunning we've come to know over the years. It's a shame that the excitement we usually feel for a new Halo game has been deflated by a clumsy launch.