Developers: 343 Industries, Vanguard Entertainment
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: August 29th, 2013
Available on: Mobile, PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Halo: Spartan Assault was an interesting experiment to turn the Halo franchise into a twin stick shooter. It was a fun game hampered by some poor design decisions and a weak story. Operation: Hydra is a free add on that adds a sixth operation to the game. It doesn’t change things up in any major way, but for those that enjoyed Halo: Spartan Assault it does add more for free so that alone makes it worth it.
Operation: Hydra picks up where Halo: Spartan Assault leaves off by having Sarah Palmer return to X50 after picking up a mysterious transmission. Once there she’s able to confirm two things: that the transmission is from the ancient Forerunner species and that it’s calling to Palmer specifically. An interesting premise is ruined though as the game’s lack of any kind of story telling outside of mission briefings. Potentially dramatic moments are reduced to little more than footnotes, and in the end the payoff is severely hampered by it. It’s a shame, since this is a story I wouldn’t mind seeing in full.
Gameplay wise there’s no major changes in Operation: Hydra. You’ll still be using the same arsenal to cut down the same Covenant troops. I found that the game started off weak, grew strong in the middle, then dropped off to be a problem again near the end. Notably Operation: Hydra’s missions are much harder than the main game’s missions. I don’t think the game’s artificial difficulty of lacking checkpoints helped much. The game seemed made to throw a ton of very powerful enemies at you for no particular reason. One level had me fighting off a swarm of invisible sword wielding elites, for example. On the other hand, a level that lets you drive a tank around is particularly entertaining. There’s a good amount of fun to be had in some of the levels, it’s just not as good as the main game.
That’s really the two biggest problem with Operation: Hydra. The seemingly artificial difficulty bump and the interesting premise ruined by lack of capitalizing on it. If it wasn’t free I’d have a tough time recommending it. Since it is it free though it feels like it’ll just be know as “the crummy last act of Halo: Spartan Assault.”