Halo: Spartan Strike

If you cannot wait for Halo 5: Guardians, Halo: Spartan Strike should help scratch your Halo itch for the time being.

Spartan Strike is a top-down twin-stick shooter, like its spiritual predecessor Spartan Assault. Placing you in the orange armour of an anonymous Spartan-IV soldier, the game gets you to take part in combat simulations aboard the UNSC Infinity capital ship.

As a retrospective of the Halo series, Spartan Strike's levels stretch from the streets of New Mombasa on Earth to more exotic locales, such as long-lost Forerunner structures and artificial jungles on the Halo rings.

The graphics, with lushly detailed backgrounds, are surprisingly crisp. Mercifully, the frame rate remains high even during intense firefights.

Spartan Strike's simulations pit you against long-time foes, the Covenant, and the newly introduced Prometheans of Halo 4.

The artificial intelligence provides genuine challenge. Elites aggressively dodge and throw grenades, while Promethean Knights can teleport close to strike the killing blow.

Missions vary, from escorting an armoured column to an extraction point to assassinating enemy commanders, and provide a wide variety of familiar weapons to use.

Spartan Strike also offers optional objectives to complete. These usually involve killing a specific number of enemies with a certain weapon.

Success rewards players with credits, which can be used to buy powerful upgrades, such as a sniper rifle or rocket launcher, to make short work of entire groups of enemies.

Shock grenades for stunning enemies within a large radius and the seeker drone armour ability that seeks out and explosively destroys high-priority targets when deployed, are nifty additions to the arsenal.

But none of these new toys can save Spartan Strike from its finicky controls. Of particular note are the single-shot weapons that refuse to fire unless the trigger is pulled for exactly the right amount of time.

To fire a charged shot with the Covenant plasma pistol, both the left and right mouse buttons must be pressed, often resulting in accidental grenade throws or misfires.

Control kinks extend to the games' vehicles. While the Covenant hovercraft are nimble, the wheeled UNSC vehicles are obnoxiously oversensitive and unintuitive, fishtailing and spinning with the lightest of inputs.

Also, curiously absent is the option of co-op online multiplayer which, for reasons unknown, did not carry over from Spartan Assault.

In spite of a few frustrations, Spartan Strike is still a thoroughly enjoyable five-hour trip down memory lane for Halo veterans and newcomers alike.