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Halo: Spartan Assault storms Windows 8 PCs, tablets and phones

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Halo: Spartan Assault (Credit: Microsoft)

Good news, gamers! You're getting a new Halo.

Bad news, gamers! It's probably not the one you wanted.

Microsoft has unveiled Halo: Spartan Assault, a non-console installment of its most important franchise for Windows 8 PCs, tablets and Windows phones. Despite its low price point, though, it's still likely to be the subject of criticism.

"With Halo: Spartan Assault, we wanted to take Halo out of the living room and create a brand new experience that was built specifically for a different screen," said Dan Ayoub, the game's executive producer in a statement. "This is an opportunity for us to define what makes Halo unique on mobile platforms and really raise the bar for what is possible."

Unlike the core Halo games, Spartan Assault isn’t a first-person game. Instead, it’s a top-down, twin-stick shooter.

Set between the events of Halo 3 and Halo 4, the game tasks players to keep their character -- either Commander Sarah Palmer or Spartan Davis – alive while mowing down scores of Covenant baddies. Rather than using a typical Xbox controller, the game is designed to be played via touch-screen, though mouse and keyboard will be supported. (Microsoft says it will add controller support after launch.)

If you're hoping to play it on a Windows 7 machine, you're out of luck. Spartan Assault is made with the Surface tablet in mind, though other Windows 8 systems will be supported. If you're hoping to try it on your Android or iOS device, you're also out of luck.

Those who have had hand-on time with the game aren't exactly singing its praises. Penny Arcade Report's Ben Kuchera says "virtual twin-stick controls are barely tolerable. It was hard to move and fire with any precision. Throwing grenades felt random and imprecise. ... This is a hobbled compromise of a game, and will make few gamers happy." Venturebeat echoes some of those sentiments, calling it "a vehicle without a reliable steering wheel."

Though it will carry a $6.99 price point, Spartan Assault will also have microtransactions available to give players additional advantages and power-ups. It will not, however, have any sort of multiplayer element; a curious omission, given how strongly the series emphasizes online play.

Check out the announcement trailer:

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