Halo escapes Xbox, invades Windows 8 devices

Spartan Assault, the latest installation in the Halo franchise, features two familiar characters from earlier games. 

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    A screenshot from Halo: Spartan Assault, which will launch on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 devices in July.
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The venerable sci-fi video game franchise Halo has its sights set on the Windows 8 ecosystem. 

According to Microsoft, a new title called Halo: Spartan Assault will debut at some point next month on Windows 8 PCs and tablets and Windows Phone 8 smart phones. The game, which was developed by 343 Industries and Vanguard Games, is set between the events of Halo 3 and Halo 4, and centers on two familiar series protagonists, Sarah Palmer and Spartan Davis. 

As opposed to the first-person perspective of most Halo games, Spartan Assault will be controlled from the top down, with the player manning a range of vehicles – including the Wraith, Scorpion, Ghost, and Grizzly – and soldiers in all-out frenetic battle. Microsoft has released some early screenshots from the game (see above), and unsurprisingly, they look pretty sharp. 

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Of course, as anyone who has ever played a shooter or adventure game on a smart phone knows, graphics aren't everything – even the best-looking mobile game can be ruined by imprecise controls. Hence the focus, in the press release announcing the game, on the controls, which have been described as combining "touch with console-like controls." (Tablet gamers will also have the option of using a mouse and keyboard.) 

"We went through multiple control scheme iterations before arriving at something that we felt was perfect," says Dan Ayoub, a producer on the project. "We designed a system that is adaptive and helps bring that old-school flavor of fast and frenzied twin-stick shooting to life." 

In related news, Q1 2013 figures for Windows Phone 8 put the mobile OS in third place globally, behind Android and iOS, and a notch above BlackBerry

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