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|Shield and Sword - Hub Station 42 *long*|
|Posted By: Leviathan <firstname.lastname@example.org>||Date: 7/8/12 2:36 a.m.|
It’s a race to Cortana now. You need to first return to the Hub Station (remember it from the beginning of the last mission?) and then defend it and Cortana from the attacking Forerunner Proto-Warriors.
Mission Four: Hub Station 42
The mission begins with a shot of the landscape – a plain, featureless desert stretches off into the horizon. It’s so flat and unremarkable that it IS remarkable. It’s too perfect…
Save for a winding crack - which becomes more and more apparent as the camera rises and begins to aim downwards at the desert floor. It zooms in on the crack – it’s a canyon – a massive wedge in the desert plain, full of twisting paths and pits.
The closest end of this canyon opens up from an underground river. The water dries up in this arid yellow and orange setting quickly, but we see a small cave in the canyon wall to the right. Inside, a Warthog has been stashed away. Forerunner Proto-Warriors are calmly inspecting this, having landed from a Guardian dropship (based upon the unused Guardian Sentinels from Halo 3) grounded farther away in a more open space of the canyon floor.
The two Warriors pace around the vehicle a bit and then turn away, back towards their dropship. But they halt after they hear a noise. Turning back, they see the Master Chief in the turret of the Warthog, its big-ass gun aiming directly at them.
And so the gameplay begins…
"No Rest for the Weary"
After dispatching an oncoming horde of Warriors rushing from their Guardian, they abandon their strategy and with the Guardian lifting off, begin to fire volleys at the cave.
Cortana: “You need to get to me at the Hub Station, Chief, before they do – you can do all your suicide tactics afterwards!
“Remember, I’ve got AI modules attached to the Warthog, if you don’t want me to drive you, you better hop off now!"
The player can remain in the turret and let Cortana take the controls, or hop out and let her gun. Or y’know, go crazy and go on foot!
Did I mention the driving A.I. has been magically fixed?
Any way you take it, you head out into the canyon – a network of splitting and rejoining paths. You could play this level many times without going the same route. There’s constant danger though, forcing you to keep up the speed and make this a race through these twisting roads.
Although you start with a Warthog, you can see in the map above that Mongeese (and weapons) have been stashed away at certain points, and of course, you’ll be able to steal any enemy or ally vehicles along the way. I should probably introduce those, shouldn’t I?
The Proto-Warriors are trying out something new this time. Dropping down from their Guardian dropships, these Forerunner Skiffs are low-level gliders, or speeders if you will. They might quite possibly be what the Covenant engineered the Ghost from.
Proto Warriors will sometimes disengage from their Skiffs anytime you lose a vehicle, so there can be a natural mix of on-foot gunplay in between the vehicle rampages. The game molds to your choices.
At some point when you kill a Proto-Warrior, Cortana will make a comment.
Cortana: “There are markings on these Proto-Warriors, Chief – a string of numbers that seem significant, as they tend to repeat between them all… Oh, sorry, were you trying to kill something?”
After choosing your own way through more vehicle battles…
Cortana: “You’re about halfway there, Chief. I’ve kept them busy all this time, but they’re zeroing in on my position. Plus having you rush in here to save me is sort of a big clue…”
Master Chief: “Would you rather me – “
Cortana: “No, no. I’m just saying you need to keep the pedal to the floor, John.”
With a pile of burning wreckages behind you, and a still-living army of Sentinels following you en masse – the player is funneled into another open canyon with a long land bridge across an abysmal gap (of death, of course). As you enter the area…
Cortana (distorted): “There’s something… new in the Shield World, John. I’m getting massive interference in the broadcast channels---“
The communication breaks up into static, and then the player hears a sonic boom overhead. Looking up, one can see a shape drifting and distorting into view above the canyon. It’s a massive ship, and its active camouflage is shutting down. It looks Covenant in origin… at least… more Covenant than Forerunner.
“Stay to the center of the path, Demon!” is heard across the radio. Up ahead, at the other end of the land bridge are two Sangheili Ghosts – encased in shining and decorated metal and more aerodynamic than ever - speeding along towards you. They fly right past your flanks on either side, singing charges of battle, and head straight into the oncoming enemy.
"Brothers in Arms"
The rest of the canyon race-battle is spent with Sangheili allies coming from the direction of your destination to help you keep the enemy off your back. And of course, this provides another vehicle to try out: the Sangheili Ghost.
No longer are the Ghosts a bulbous pink things zinging around and blowing up seconds later, this is a craft that has been improved by the old Sangheili arts - the arts that have been slowly re-emerging since the Great Schism with the Covenant.
And these old traditions of craftsmanship are being applied to everything. The Sangheili have had to start re-learning all their old knowledge, since as a species, they now stand on their own, out from under the Prophet’s control (and also the services and resources that the Covenant provided).
Imagine something between the classic Elite armor we all know, and the more decorated and cultured armor of the Arbiter. And imagine some of those design principles applied all the way up to capital ships.
Some rough sketches that led to these designs can be seen here.
Eventually, the canyon will start to close in again. As you head across some pools of water and off a small cliff into a familiar area…
… a cutscene begins. Master Chief abandons his vehicle behind and carefully makes his way under the arches and waterfalls seen above, into the cave where Hub Station 42 is located.
Cortana: “You made it, John.”
Master Chief: “You know I would.”
Cortana: “Well, you could have been a little quicker – they’re right at the door.”
Master Chief spins around with weapon ready, waiting silently as he watches the cave entrance and the warm light beyond it. But nothing comes.
Then a Proto Warrior falls to the ground in view outside, with a Plasma Sword thrust into its core. It’s lifted up into the air by the Shipmaster Rtas, Half-Jaw, who asks it, “What are you?” before the silent form is teleported away.
The Shipmaster then sees the Chief, and a nod of their heads marks their comradery.
Cortana: “You got here quickly.”
Shipmaster: “I believe you’d be surprised at the changes in interstellar travel in the years you’ve been away. The Old Gods left us much. And yet… they do not seem so charitable here.”
Master Chief: “Everything in this world has tried to kill us since we got here. We don’t know why.”
Shipmaster: “That mystery might have to wait. I bring ill news, Demon. The Reconciled have tracked us here. But they remain barricaded outside the World, outside the docking portal. They do not have the abilities that our stealth corvette has.”
Cortana: “You were able to jam Forerunner technology? The Elites have grown up, haven’t they?”
Shipmaster: “The Sangheili has learned much of the human’s ability to lie and manipulate, yes.”
(on the radio) Sangheili Major: “Sir, enemy reinforcements are mustering outside your position.”
Shipmaster: “Bring in three lances. We stand our ground for now – and show them who they are dealing with.”
(to Master Chief) “You should come with us until your UNSC arrives. If we survive this battle, we’ll take your weapons and vehicles to the corvette. Its camouflage will keep us hidden from our enemies.”
Master Chief looks at Cortana who nods as the cutscene ends.
The player heads back out into the canyon to the sounds of battle. The Proto-Warriors have begun their assault, but you have a whole troop of Sangheili warriors at your side this time.
It’s a sort of Firefight-esque battle (which is a retroactive term really – “Firefights” in Halo campaigns have been occurring long before the Firefight mode existed, all the way back to the second level of the first Halo, when you meet up with Sgt. Johnson). You must defend the Hub Station from a number of waves of Forerunner weapons. Death is not the only defeat though – should the enemy make it into the Station and reach Cortana, it is also game over. But there is only one entrance, so that shouldn’t be a frustrating challenge. No ‘protect Captain Keyes’ here, hah.
Upon surviving the waves of Proto-Warriors and their Sentinel side-kicks, the level ends with another cinematic:
Half Jaw is finishing the last Warrior, tearing open its chest with his energy sword. No blood. Only machinery spills out as it teleports away.
He turns back to the Chief, and his Elites, who were watching.
Shipmaster: “These are not living Forerunners, they are simple machines.”
The Chief picks up a piece of the Warrior’s armor that had been left behind.
Cortana: “The numbers… that’s why they were repeating! They were the same machines, teleported away, repaired and sent back. You’ve been killing the same enemy over and over…”
Sangheili Major: “But why? Why mold themselves in a form like this?”
Shipmaster (looking at the Chief): “Perhaps they are mimicking their enemy…”
They look up. A Sangheili dropship eases down into the canyon from above, blocking the sun, and the level fades out.
Next time on Shield and Sword: The remnants of the Covenant – the Reconciled! And maybe more – I might start grouping up multiple levels into one post.
|Shield and Sword - Hub Station 42 *long*||Leviathan||7/8/12 2:36 a.m.|
|This. Is. Awesome.||Phoenix_9286||7/8/12 2:58 a.m.|
|Awesome as always. *NM*||Ragashingo||7/8/12 4:32 a.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Hub Station 42 *long*||dogcom||7/8/12 5:56 a.m.|
|Cowabunga! Awesome job *NM*||padraig08||7/8/12 10:02 a.m.|
|Fantastic!!!||Lawnmower172||7/8/12 10:26 a.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Hub Station 42 *long*||Metalingus627||7/8/12 12:30 p.m.|
|Forgot to mention...||Leviathan||7/8/12 4:53 p.m.|
|Oh my||ZackDark||7/8/12 1:15 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Hub Station 42 *long*||Mid7night||7/8/12 7:08 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Hub Station 42 *long*||Leviathan||7/8/12 11:39 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Hub Station 42 *long*||The Lionheart||7/8/12 8:04 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Hub Station 42 *long*||CaneCutter||7/8/12 10:33 p.m.|
|this is a treat||kidtsunami||7/8/12 10:35 p.m.|
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