Halo: Spartan Assault arrives in the Windows Phone Store

The first Halo game in franchise history designed exclusively for imageWindows Phone 8 and Windows 8 is here.

Halo: Spartan Assault, which runs only on higher-memory Windows Phones, costs $6.99 and is available worldwide except in the U.S., where Verizon Wireless customers get first dibs until August 16. Buy it here (Note: The game was just published, so it might take a few hours to show up where you live.)

If you’ve been skimming some of the early first-look reviews, you’ve probably been getting as amped up as I have for this groundbreaking title, which was specifically tuned for phones and tablets. “The production values are incredible,” wrote PC Gamer. GameRant said the title is “a natural and fitting extension of the franchise and has an opportunity to appeal to a new demographic.” Geek summed up its brief hands-on with the game as “nothing short of impressive.”

As I wrote last month, the game features 25 never-before-played missions set in the years between Halo 3 and Halo 4, offering new insights into the first missions of the Spartan Ops program, the history of the Human-Covenant wars, and the rise of Commander Sarah Palmer. If none of that means anything to you, don’t worry: The game was designed to appeal to both hardcore residents of Halo nation and newbies alike. Played from a top-down—as opposed to first-person—perspective, it features rich storytelling, stunning graphics, and tons of action. (And thus why you’ll need 1GB RAM to play it. A lower-memory version is scheduled for release in August.)

Finally, what really makes Halo: Spartan Assault special is that it’s one of the small but growing number of titles like Skulls of the Shogun designed so you can pause it on your phone and pick up gameplay on a Windows 8 tablet or PC. (Buy the Windows 8 version.) This trailer provides a nice taste and the Halo Waypoint blog has more on the new release.