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Let's Play Halo Part 4 - The Escort Mission
Posted By: VikingBoyBillyDate: 6/5/15 11:49 a.m.

Into the belly of the beast

First, some corrections. Cortana meant that Captain Keyes has a control gland, not the covenant ship captain. That's a weird alien thing I didn't expect humans to do, but whatever. The covenant captured everyone on the pillar of autumn; they weren't killed. Why? The pfhor captured Bobs because they wanted slaves. The covenant just want everyone dead. Captain Keyes is the only one with any value because he can lead them to Cortana and Earth. Everyone else is worthless. I could be wrong, due to missing information, perhaps there were some other important members onboard. Spoilers: No, I'm not. They're just marines that should have been killed.

Let's draw some comparisons with Pfhor Your Eyes Only. This is a detail I hadn't mentioned last time, but if you look up at the Truth and Reconciliation (stupid name), it has a striking resemblance to what you see outside the window on Arrival and the chapter screen before Pfhor Your Eyes. I guess it could look just as much like the Star Trek Enterprise or the Death Egg to some people, due to the angle, but I think Bungie was, either consciously or unconsciously, drawing the resemblance from the pfhor ship.

Pfhor your eyes only was really something special and unique. I wasn't expecting to explore their ship and it just came out of nowhere, but it did have some buildup, starting from, of course, the window, to the things Durandal was making us do in the levels prior, and finally his "you are about to see things that no human has ever seen" speech (of course he was wrong, if you take it literally, but the impact of the statement is still strong).

Belly of the Beast has no buildup. We're just thrown in here not far off from when we started playing the game, and it's treated like just another map.

As for aesthetics, the textures and architecture look good, it's just mundane. Not human, but not alien either, just really high tech. It didn't make the mistake of M2's Boomer with blinding multicolor, it keeps itself restricted to a lot of magenta, and sometimes blue. I can immediately intuit and identify the function of everything I see here. Doors look like doors, the force field in the docking bay opening is just an easier way to keep atmosphere in and let ships out, the glowy hologram things are interfaces that act as buttons. Hallways have nothing bizarre that stick out, they're just really shiny. The pfhor ship was incomprehensible and maddening in a really good way and it was horrific. This is not scary; it's just really hard (if you're playing legendary).

We're introduced to a new Elite class here with swords: an unshielded minor with an invisibility cloak (but their big giant sword is still visible, so... oops?) and a major with a strong shield and gold armor. So... they're like pfhor troopers? Except roles are kinda mixed and matched because these are the ones with the melee weapons. I remember the sword being a fun weapon in Halo 2's multiplayer, but you can't use them in this game. They'd be much more useful than the shock staff in Eternal.

Let's talk about powerups, which I have neglected to do since Pillar of Autumn, but that's okay because they're especially handy on this map. The first is Invisibility, which is exactly what it says on the tin. It's best to wait until the arena is cleared before using these so you can sneak past everything in the hallways, which is partly why my Legendary run went so badly. The other is the overshield, which functions as a 3x canister.

I've been told in the comments that this map was meant to be played with the sniper rifle. That's the most counter-intuitive thing I ever heard. A sniper rifle is useful in wide open outdoor areas where you need it's range and accuracy. I was expecting to be in a claustrophobic alien ship here, and that's what it is to an extent, except that most of it is built around a large, multiple story docking bay area where things in the upper levels will be difficult to hit without it. The 2-weapon limit is starting to show it's dangers here. I think it's possible to get by with needlers and plasma pistols, but more difficult nonetheless.

When we find the captain (and three other captured marines), we get exposition on what we're going to do next.

According to the Covenant's vague and underdeveloped religion, the halo is a weapon. Whoever controls it will control the universe, and the covenant are looking for it's control room. Captain Keyes knows this because he overheard the guards outside his cell talking about it.

It's time to address an elephant in the room (not Microsoft, Bungie, Marathon, Apple and XBox, those are all meta-elephants I lightly alluded to already. This is an in-universe elephant). The grunts all casually speak fluent english.

If this were anime, I wouldn't question it, but western sci fi usually doesn't do the Everyone Speaks the Same Language trope, save light sci fi like Lilo and Stitch, and this game presents itself expecting to be taken seriously.

I can buy that in 32 years the covenant learned human languages. It makes it easy to gather info about them. What breaks my suspension of disbelief is that they casually speak english in the presence of the human marines they're fighting. The real shining example of fail is one of the prison guards were discussing sensitive information in front of the captain of the Pillar of Autumn in a language they know he comprehends.

In storytelling, there is an art to how you deliver information to the characters. That right there was a breach of security so heinous it could only be attributed to an idiot ball; the guards had to be idiots so we could learn about the control room.

If I were to revise this to make sense, I'd have Cortana hack into their ship's data banks to learn this. Maybe she could have done it while she was brute forcing her way through that 128,000 bit encryptian key to open a stupid door. (that sounds more underwhelming than it should. Durandal owned doors, man.)

What, you think I'm being too critical of the story of an fps game? I'm sorry, but this is supposed to be the spiritual successor of Marathon and PID, which are acclaimed for being the exception to games with no plot. I have high expectations. So far the premise and worldbuilding itself looks promising, but the methods of conveying that really misses the use of terminals as a device that accomplishes that and doesn't break the immersion of gameplay.

Right behind you... sir

This is the proof that Bungie are a bunch of sadists. Colony Ship, Thing What Kicks, Acme Station and G-4 Sunbathing are all fun and interesting challenges compared to the dreaded Escort Mission, the carnal sin of action games. All Bungie has to do is add one of those time limit underwater levels that everyone but me hates and they'll be golden (by what I heard from Lion O Cyborg, one of those might be coming up with the harmless covenant equivalent of pfhor slime). Playing this part on legendary must be horrendous. Good thing I quit while I was behind.

If Captain Keyes dies, Cortana will say "No... without Captain Keyes, the Covenant-" and then you respawn. What was Cortana about to say? It wouldn't let her finish. There must have been a full clip of that monologue that got cut off, and I suspect it's only the PC port that does the automatic respawn thing. Let's make a Finish That Sentence game! I'd finish the sentence with "will win." For a more humorous answer, I'll go with, "Without Captain Keyes, the Covenant will do the mocarena in cowboy hats and ballet tutus on ice skates without an audience!"

You can tell which one Captain Keyes is because he's the one with the needler. Everyone else has plasma rifles. We can't get help from Foe Hammer, so we have to steal a covenant ship to get out of here. Captain Keyes isn't content to play it safe and hang back. Oh, no, then it wouldn't be a proper escort mission. To his credit, he is more competent the needlers than the grunts and elites are.

Captain Keyes takes a level up in badass because it's a great idea to ram your only escape ship into a wall to take out two hunters whose splasma blasts would probably just bounce off of it.

This write up may have been too critical. I won't apologize for it.

Incidentally, I tried Halo's internet multiplayer. You know how aleph one netgames are all about ROCKETS, ROCKETS, and more ROCKETS? Guess what? Halo is the same thing. The differences are that this time, the netgame gatherer has the privelige to replace every weapon on the map with SPNKR SSM launchers and force all players to spawn holding it by default with infinite ammo. This basically amounts to two minutes of getting hit with missiles one second after you spawn by guys camping near the spawn spots and, if your lucky, maybe killing someone with one of the rockets you spammed within that one second. Maybe I'm exaggerating there, but that's pretty much what to expect. What I'm not exaggerating is in the intermission between games, the losers say "Fuck you!" in the chat, the winners respond with "FUCK YOU!" and I'm in 5th place between them and the three other AFK players who have 0 kills because they literally aren't even playing with a vote on which map to play on with only Rockets, and a couple of choices with only shotguns, and my vote for shotgun games has no chance of winning out over the majority.

Good times.

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Replies:

Let's Play Halo Part 4 - The Escort MissionVikingBoyBilly 6/5/15 11:49 a.m.
     Re: Let's Play Halo Part 4 - The Escort MissionPerseusSpartacus 6/5/15 1:08 p.m.
           Re: Let's Play Halo Part 4 - The Escort MissionMartin 6/7/15 5:45 p.m.
                 Re: Let's Play Halo Part 4 - The Escort MissionVikingBoyBilly 6/8/15 4:15 a.m.
                       Re: Let's Play Halo Part 4 - The Escort MissionMartin 6/8/15 11:33 a.m.

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