Microsoft has announced the impending arrival of Halo: Spartan Assault, an omni-directional top-down shooter for Windows 8 devices. Set between Halos 3 and 4, the space-hoop stopgap will be available this July for an "estimated retail price" of $6.99, though the Windows 8 version (supporting PCs and tablets) will be sold separately from the game made for Windows Phone 8.

As with other twin-stick shooters, Halo: Spartan Assault hinges on maneuvering your character out of harm's way while aiming and firing back in 360 degrees. The game retains controllable vehicles, established franchise weapons (see: canon canons) and covenant enemies, but moves the perspective to high above the battlefield and replaces the controls with a touch-screen interface. It's obviously more simplistic than Halo proper, and certainly more likely to be mentioned in an article with Microsoft's range of Surface tablets.

Halo: Spartan Assault is developed by 343 Industries and Vanguard Games (Greed Corp, Gatling Gears), and comes complete with leaderboards, weekly challenges, and connectivity rewards for Halo 4, firstly in the form of new Spartan emblems. It will also be accompanied by a three-part prequel comic series called "Halo: Initiation."

If dragging thumbs across a capacitive screen isn't ideal, you can play the Windows 8 version of Spartan Assault with a mouse and keyboard. According to Microsoft, "Halo: Spartan Assault will add support for the Wired Xbox 360 controller for Windows on Windows 8 PCs, tablets and Surface devices shortly after launch, via a title update."

This article was originally published on Joystiq.