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Let's Play Halo SPV3 Stage 3
Posted By: Lion O CyborgDate: 1/21/20 12:03 p.m.

Stage 2: Halo

Seek out surviving marines and help them fight the Covenant

Welcome back folks, one and all to the Halo 1 SPV3 mini Tour of Duty, where last we left off, we took Cortana and fled the Pillar of Autumn in a lifepod while Captain Keyes tried to take the ship down to the surface. The ride down is bumpy but breath-taking.

Unfortunately, the problem with the airbrake chute I mentioned at the end of stage 1 is more serious than it first seemed. I don’t know if it’s Cortana or the Foehammer clone pilot, but one of them yells “We’re coming in too fast!” As the flaming lifepod barrels down over some mesas, re-entry flames off the bow look a lot like machine gun fire and the airbrake chute the pilot had deployed tears itself free. “Damn!” she yells “Airbrake failure! They blew too early. I’m losing her! Brace for impact!”

For some weird reason on SPV3, the whole crash sequence above is missing from the game so it’s awkwardly handled at the end of the Pillar of Autumn via audio alone.

https://youtu.be/_xrJ0a-uCR8?t=1722

Act 1: Flawless Cowboy

In the original, I woke up in the lifepod facing whatever way I happened to be looking and every marine including the pilot was killed in the crash. So what I’d do is look up as soon as the pod hit the ground, leaving me staring at the ceiling lights when I come to, like if I’d actually been knocked out. I do something similar in Half Life 1 when waking up from the Resonance Cascade. In the fan remake here, it’s been given the Halo 3 ODST and Black Mesa treatment, so I wake up at odd angles at the front of the pod, before I pick myself up and have control again. Also, some of the marines survived unlike the original; they’re waiting for me on the grassy plain. One of the marines yells “Thank god it’s you!” as I climb out of the pod. This had no significance to me as a kid, but I’m glad I get even the subtle Marathon references in this game now. :)

Hey, Sgt Johnson is meant to be further ahead in a different lifepod, both vanilla and SPV3.1. I can revive him and he’ll come with me. I find myself on the edge of a large coastal butte by a river. A bridge spans the waterfall to my left and little dinosaur things called blind wolves run about the small wood on this plateau.

The blind wolves were cut from the vanilla game as they were difficult to work with AI wise. These ones in the fan remake are friendly at first but if 2 of them die to anyone, they attack everything regardless of who killed them including you.

Up ahead by the second waterfall, I see water splashing on my visor like in Quantum Redshift. What I said before about correct use of lens flares also applies here as the splash mist catches the sun, looking a little like a nuclear fireball, but that’s graphics for you.

I have to reload here as you have less time than vanilla to leave before a covenant dropship shows up to look for survivors. Some covies on the other side of the bridge will see you, but the dropship always lands in the crash site. Cortana recommends moving into the hills further up the butte. If we’re lucky, assuming the enemies between here and there don’t radio the search party, the covenant in the ship may assume that everyone aboard this lifepod died in a crash. Grabbing a Sprint armour ability, a DMR, and then a Battle Rifle instead of the DMR when after restating the game to test graphics settings, I head across the bridge.

Crossing the bridge, the ship swoops in and deposits its troops by the lifepod. Cortana tells us that she disabled the pod’s signal beacon to throw off the scent, but other pods may still have theirs active so we can use them to recover survivors. Banshees attack from above so I use my pistol and battle rifle to wear down their armour. The second banshee fighter chickens out once the first is destroyed, allowing me to concentrate on an elite firing what looks like a Needle Rifle from Halo Reach, and some skirmishers from said game, dug into some trees past a small boulder field on the slope.

Unlike the jackals, the skirmishers bleed excessively when you punch them, even though they’re less brittle than jackals. Down a drop and around the corner, jackals and a brute are attacking a group of marines and Bobs dug into a large structure.

That’s a Phantom from Halo 2. In the original game, all Covenant dropships are Spirits, which look like a capital U or a giant magnet. Some call them tuning forks.

They were replaced by phantoms and were never to be seen again until Halo Reach, where both dropships appeared side by side. However, all spirits in SPV3 have been replaced with phantoms except for a single spirit used at the end of the next level. Why can’t we have both at once like Halo Reach? Also, Phantoms have more turrets than spirits and a gravity elevator, but as of Halo 3 that gained portable plasma turrets nestled in the new side hatches. All dropships cannot be destroyed until Halo 3 but in Halo 2, you can at least destroy the phantom’s turrets.

I jump in and ambush them as they descend the phantom’s gravity elevator with cluster grenades, which use fuel rod bombs. Some frags and plasma pistol shots take care of the others.

Johnson notes that we’re scattered all over this valley. While the marines called for evac after exiting their lifepod, until I showed up, they thought they were cooked. Another phantom arrives and disgorges grunts and elites out of the side hatches, which take battle rifle shots to the face. The latter I also use a needler on. 2 more phantoms show up, the second landing behind the structure, trying to flank us. After I deal with them and take a plasma rife, another 2 dropships show up, one with a pack of brutes.

“The…the humans!” one particularly angry brute stammers in his own language. “They’re loose!”

“Damn right,” I yell back “and I’m gonna loosen your bones for ya too! By melting them! It’ll look like lamb vindaloo curry with extra chillis & lots of crème fraiche in, very messy.” Laser guns and plasma weapons contrary to their shit depictions in most western animated TV and movies (of which turned everyone off them), cause the water in your body to boil, turning the flesh into red soup and they can even set you on fire, meaning they’re even gorier than bullets. Halo is not shy to depict lasers and plasma as realistically as it can and I highly praise it for that.

The Bobs up on the structure aren’t much in the way of fighters compared to the marines, but they do have plenty to say:

“AAAAAAAAAAHHHH! YIKES!”

“Not more of them!”

“I’M A COWARDLY FOOOOOOL!”

The grunts aren’t any better:

“Shoot you!”

“Die, devil!”

“Flare!” *throws plasma grenade*

“Everybody duck!” *ditto*

“AHHH! BAD CYBORG!”

“LEADER DEAD! RUN A-WAYYYY!”

“AI AI AIIIIIIIIIIIIE!”

“THEY GOT ELITE! RUN!”

“LITTLE PEOPLE FIRST! GRUNTS FIRST! WE’RE SMALLER!”

“GET OUT OF MY WAY!”

“THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!”

“FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW!”

“I JUST WET MYSELF!”

“CAN’T! RUN! WITH! THING! ON! BACK!”

It was here in my original Legendary run that I hit the first roadblock. Not only were enemies harder to deal with, but more banshees attacked after a couple of waves, even though vanilla didn’t have banshees in this fight on Legendary. All of the marines and Bobs died and I was left with next to no health. On Heroic playthroughs including this one, not so much. This fight is hard enough in the original game and Anniversary, mostly the last wave.

Once all the covenant are dead, Captain Carol Rawley AKA Foehammer of Pelican Echo 419 arrives, looking for survivors. Cortana is usually the one to request transporting the soldiers to a “command shuttle” (Keyes’s lifepod?) but a marine does it in this time. More lifepods coming raining down from the sky like meteorites, sailing over the steep hills around the valley.

The Covenant are going to be right on top of them when they crash land so Cortana requests Echo 419’s warthog. Not only does Carol drop it, but she leaves us a Mongoose quadbike too which in SPV3 is the Gungoose version, which comes with machine guns. Basically it’s a human version of the Covenant Ghost.

It’s a shame Halo PC has no co-op, as if the SPV3 team port eventually this to Halo Anniversary when it releases in the PC port of Master Chief Collection, having one guy take the hog and another take the gungoose would be awesome. Hell, I’d love a CD copy of SPV3 for Xbox Classic too.

A Private Fitzgerald is manning the hog’s turret and another marine hops in once I take the wheel. Johnson and the rest hop into the dropship and fly off. But I’m not done here. The big structure fires blue energy beacons into the sky from a blue flame every now and then, though I’ve no idea what they’re actually for. In SPV3, the beacon is red. Around the building are terminals.

Before I can look for them, a new character from the books, Sheila Polaski radios in and tells me if I can kill the Covenant guarding a “shrine tower” or something, it should allow Cortana to hack into the Covenant battlenet. This isn’t in the original game and Cortana hacks in on her own. Polaski is quite hard to hear so I don’t know what exactly she’s saying to do.

The first terminal is on top of the structure, apparently left by Johnson while he was up there sniping during the fight.

Johnson was always a good source of chuckles during the main games, especially in his more rare incidental dialog. Sometimes, he actually comes with you here instead of hopping aboard Foehammer’s pelican and his responses to you doing stunt jumps off the nearby hills and down the dry gully ahead are priceless:

“That thing on the left? IS THE BRAKE!”

The next terminal is on the other side of the ledge, on the back of a small grey box.

Look familiar? It’s the same model as the Forerunner’s Domain terminals in Halo 4, except the ball shaped screen merely lights up instead of disintegrates. Guess who it’s from?

343 Guilty Spark seems to have recorded this text diary entry of his before he found the Pillar of Autumn and sent the message in the first Halo Anniversary terminal. Now it’s time to move on.

If you haven’t already guessed, this level is The Rose on steroids but unlike Marathon 1 Classic or M1A1, this escort quest is actually winnable! It seems to be an apology from Bungie for both The Rose and especially Bob BQ, as you can win the escort on all difficulties in vanilla, not to mention they all escape in a dropship once the coast is clear, like Marathon 2 Bobs teleporting out. For OCD types like myself, it’s quite fun to herd all the marines together, defend them and send them back to their lair, like my Aunt’s late border collies chasing sheep. With the exception of Marathon Redux, Marathon 1 is usually the opposite so keeping any Bob’s alive at all feels very special and you get nothing out of it, as Leela says you’ve failed anyway despite the fact the last time I played Marathon 1, I made sure to count that I’d saved at least half the Bobs in The Rose.

Anyway, I drive the warthog over the hills and run into elites and brutes in a small camp, including a pair of the aforementioned Ghosts. These are small flying go-karts with plasma turrets and as of Halo 2, a mean turbo-boost. I’d love to use THOSE in a game of Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing and Mario Kart Advance.

The enemies here have slaughtered a pack of blind wolves, and they have a couple of those strange radio tower things from Halo 2 and 3. There’s a large dry gully here, which does look like it’s meant to be full of water and simply dried, but it isn’t the right shape of any pond or stream I’ve seen. I remember there being living blind wolves down by one of the radio towers in the gully, but they must be the dead ones up top.

“This cave is not a natural formation.” Cortana warns me. “Someone built it. So it must lead somewhere.”

You mean the obviously metal giant tunnel at the bottom of this gully actually goes somewhere? How the hell did you think it was a cave, artificial or not?! Apparently, the tunnel entrance was supposed to be an actual cave with metal further in I guess, but Cortana could discern its true nature straight away. However, Bungie changed the design of the tunnel entrance early on but kept Cortana’s line.

The tunnel is full of speed bumps with blue chase lights on them, in both the floor and ceiling. The fog from the gully goes a fair distance inside. After a couple of turns I come to a gap over a ramp with another ramp leading down. Ahead in a small alcove is the next Forerunner terminal.

I guess his message in the first CEA term didn’t get through, even though we found it. Also, the Flood really do have more of their number hiding outside the galaxy in dark space, waiting. Even if the specimens on the rings never break loose, it may one day be all for naught. Hang on, there’s more data on this computer, wait a second…

This is the first time Forerunners ever appeared in the games, but they would not appear in person and show their faces until Halo 4.

There’s a hole above the road, so I can jump the gap using the first ramp I saw before. It’s very dark, and ominous music starts playing.

It’s the Evil Bunny Rabbit of Doom! That’s what the gates over the deep chasm ahead look like, making this metal cavern like room feel a little scary. The Shade turret under the Evil Bunny Rabbit’s nose or teeth is new, as are the shields next to it. It’s a simple matter of driving around letting the marines shoot the bad guys and trying to run over any you can, being mindful of grenades the grunts throw. Unlike Halo 1, there’s also jackal snipers carrying carbines above the pillars on the right. I guess that’s what the needle rifle thing I saw the elites use earlier were.

At one point, my gunner catches fire when a jackal shoots him. Major Jackals (with yellow/orange shields) can now carry Brute Plasma pistols; a new gun made in answer to the Brute Plasma Rife whose charged shots cause large fires, making them a much better choice than normal ones, like the rifles that they and the Brute Shredder needlers are homages to.

Warthogs and scorpions are invincible in Halo 1 and only Covenant vehicles have health. In Halo 2 onward, all vehicles can be destroyed, but only once the player dies normally, no matter how much damage they take. Reach gives them all set health similar to ghosts & banshees in Halo 1, which is a massive problem when there’s a lot of heavy weapon users or other vehicles, banshees suffering the worst. SPV3 gives us the best of both worlds, making the vehicle health only go down when our shields are out, which is a lot more fair. Warthogs in this game also let you heal your own health at will with the flashlight button (white button on the best controller, left shoulder-button on Xbox 360 & Xbox One).

I also use a stolen Focus Rifle to pick off the snipers. No sooner do I leave the hog than the music becomes slightly louder and scarier. One of the pillars below the sniper ledge makes creepy, hollow howling noises. I need to extend a bridge over the chasm using a semi-hard light panel on a narrow ledge running over the right side of the room. These things are called holo-panels. The covenant have them too, but theirs don’t look as nice.

Next to the howling pillar is a narrow, blue lit ramp leading to the bridge controls. The elites that ambush you at the top aren’t there. Hmm. The bridge extends a pair of projectors and I see the light slowly fade in along their lengths, turning solid with a tremendous ripping sound as the air is displaced.

If you rubbed your cheek on that, it would feel like standing outside with the sun shining on your face. It would also set your hair on fire, so don’t actually do it. I’m not too quick to race off out of the next half of the tunnel so quickly like I’d normally do in Halo 1: there’s another terminal to my right after passing through the second “Evil Bunny Rabbit of Doom” gate. For some stupid reason, it shows the exact same message as the previous one, whereas it didn’t in SPV3.1.

https://youtu.be/0MDwKzH4ez8?t=928

It seems I may have already got access to the battlenet as in vanilla; Cortana notes that the Captain and the command team made it off the Autumn as well as a lot more crew in general than she predicted. If we can find Captain Keyes and the other survivers, we have a chance to co-ordinate an effective resistance. The exit tunnel raises up longer than normal up an extra long ramp. Cortana reads marine IFF transponders in a box canyon ahead, most of her lines in this area being reused from the level Gravemind in Halo 2.

This is peaceful, if not for the many brutes. I use my focus rife to snipe one across the end of the lagoon. This Covenant sniper rifle is from Halo Reach, being an alternative form of the normal Particle Beam Rifle in Halo 2.

It fires a constant beam and really gets annoying when jackals use it, as they deal a lot of damage and descope you when you’re hit. However, this is MUCH better than Halo 2 and 3 on Legendary, where every enemy Beam Rifle is an instant kill. I have slightly less trouble in Halo 2 because I play it on Heroic as Legendary there sucks. On Heroic, one shot takes out your shields and the second kills you.

“This ain’t as fun as it looks. Cut the power!”

I also get a closer look at the blind wolves. Even though they have creepy mouths, don’t you think they look kind of cute?

Behind the small tunnel bunker that the marines were trapped in (the doors to the ramps down are sealed) is the first covenant terminal.

The brutes hanging wounded kills on those metal crucifixes like a butcher hanging pig corpses reminds me of the dragon’s teeth spikes in Mass Effect, but without the techno zombie part.

There’s also a Johnson terminal behind a large rock beside the lagoon that I missed when I entered, so I go back and get it.

The next group of marines is a stone’s throw from the terminal. The last lot are by some large pipes in a big part of the lagoon. Wait, is the lagoon sewer runoff from those pipes? I hope not.


The next covenant terminal is on top of the tunnel bunker the marines are in.


That day may come sooner than you think…

Once the final group of marines are free, Polaski shows up in her Pelican and requests that we aid the ODSTs in the next valley: We need a base of operations and there’s this large building on another plateau of this butte that will serve nicely, designated Alpha Base. This is from the book, but the Master Chief didn’t aid in taking Alpha Base from the Covenant. Also, Alpha Base in the book is open to the cliff edge, with tunnels linking to both an underground network and a footpath leading from the coastal hills below up the mesa we are on. In the fan remake of Halo 1 here, it’s a box canyon like all the rest. The cliff edges start appearing again in the last act of this stage.

Polaski drops a fresh warthog complete with gunner before opening the troop bay and letting the marines on board. Two have a little trouble trying to run up the ramp.

With this, the shield door over the next tunnel dims to let me through. I drive through the tunnel going further uphill. I can just hear the hoarse voice of someone –probably pink with a broken nose- behind us yelling “Blast! Bring back those animals!” referring to the marines, and I picture him stomping on his helmet in fury.

Act 2: Alpha Base

Polaski tells us that there’s wraiths guarding the base ahead, as well as a whole bunch of foot soldiers. Some brutes and jackals hang around a lifepod with supplies outside it on the left as I drive down the hill. If we take this place, we can make it our marines’ Lair.

The base is designed like a futuristic motte and bailey: there’s a large dome shooting a red beacon like the other structures out front, with a small bridge over a trench connected to the outer wall. The bailey is a large building just inside, with supports and the interior of the base connecting to the motte on top, also inside the butte. The only part of the motte that’s outside is a landing pad above the large support beams in the bailey.

There’s some marines by a flipped warthog beside a small pond in the far left of this grotto. I drive around and have my gunner blast the tanks and shade turrets while I try to run over covenant in the way. A direct mortar hit from a wraith makes the warthog do a perfect triple backflip, but it lands on its wheels with only some shield lost. That was very lucky.

Wraiths fire plasma mortars and are very tough to destroy. They go unnamed in Halo 1 and are simply referred to as Covenant tanks. These ones are based on the wraiths in Halo 2, where they have 2 small plasma turrets on the front wings instead of the one gunner turret next to the driver’s hatch. In Halo 1, you cannot drive them at all, which is the start of a trend in at least the original games where there’s at least one cool vehicle you can’t drive, which I hate.

Halo 2 lets you drive the wraiths, but introduces the Shadow, which is effectively a Covenant army truck complete with the best shade turret in any Halo game. It’s only possible to drive it by either hacking the game or by exploiting a very hard to pull off glitch. Unlike the wraiths, Shadows never appeared in any Halo game since, which is a massive insult. Halo 3 introduced the anti-air wraith, which is a different shade of purple and has quad fuel rod cannons instead of a mortar. It can also only be driven by exploiting the same glitch as the Shadow, except you have to be even faster because unlike the Shadows, the AA Wraiths self destruct quickly once the driver is killed.

Anyway, I found the best way to deal with wraiths in SPV3 is to circle around them on a warthog while the gunner shoots them, so they can’t hit you easily. I didn’t see if they kept this but in Halo 3 onward, all wraiths have a flywheel in an exhaust port on the back that destroys the tank if you smash it. Polaski sends in troops once the LZ is clear so I need to defend the grotto from phantoms while she approaches. Once that’s done, she informs me that the Covenant have deployed one of the aforementioned anti-air wraiths on the motte’s landing pad. First I check out a terminal hidden under an archway of the beacon dome, then I press on over the bridge to the motte and bailey itself.

Inside Alpha Base’s wall, I smash a yellow lit door on the bailey building and discover another terminal inside.

The sniper Spartan was Linda, whose body is still on the pillar of autumn in cryo, put there by the Chief on the offchance a hospital can revive her, provided the brain isn’t damaged enough. This does happen in First Strike, but she never joins us in the games until Halo 5. Johnson keeps that promise he makes at the end too.

Behind the bailey house lobby, I follow a winding tube into the bowels of the mesa’s motte. I barely have enough time to melee attack 2 sleeping grunts before a pair of jackal snipers spots me. After I deal with the aliens in here, I notice that the next Forerunner terminal above the entrance can only be reached by grenade jumping. Even crouch jumps don’t seem to get me high enough to reach the pillars I’m supposed to use as stepping stones.

This must be after he disabled the ring’s orbital defenses to let us land. This terminal’s text was the one meant to appear in the light bridge room. https://youtu.be/cF-40J1vAQc?list=PLzY_6PHAQD55__MGnzwjv89je5IqHxrbq&t=1304

Jumping to the floor, I return up the curved ramps and head through a door at the back of the upper level. There’s an anti-gravity elevator here whose shaft goes to the room by the butte’s footpath to the coast below, but the due to how the game works, the lift controls only let me take it further up to the motte proper. I call it an “anti-gravity elevator” as unlike an actual gravity lift, anti-grav lifts are the same idea as mechanical except they use grav-lift fields to move the platform or car instead of cables or pistons.

Outside on the motte, I use the focus rifle to kill the covenant around the tank on the landing pad and I board, with the melee attacks from tank boarding in Halo 2 being automatic this time. Yes, not only do you get to drive wraiths in SPV3 unlike the original game, but you can drive AA Wraiths too! Yay!

However, as I find out to my massive annoyance and disappointment, they switched the fuel rod cannons in SPV3.2 with shitty shade turrets. WHY DID THEY THINK THAT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA?! THE FUEL ROD CANNONS ARE THE PRIMARY IF NOT SOLE REASON WE WANTED TO DRIVE THE AA WRAITH IN THE FIRST PLACE!

Gross. Here’s the good version of the AA wraith from SPV3.1: https://youtu.be/eIqsZE3zjho?t=349

The next terminal is on the landing pad near the wraith.

I hit the holo-panel in front of the wraith on the pad and Polaski lands her dropship again, leaving a gauss warthog from Halo 2 this time. As I climb back down to the bailey using the support beams, she says that she spotted some pillars of smoke in the next set of canyons on the butte, which are likely from the remaining lifepods. She’s right.

The gauss hog is so called because of the gauss cannon it has for a turret. There’s rocket warthogs as well, introduced in Halo 1 PC’s multiplayer and finalised in Reach, but I don’t know if they’re in the mod too. Through a hole in the side wall by some boulders to the left of the bridge, I test out the gauss warthog on some brutes and skirmishers by the exit tunnel.

Before I leave, I take a closer look at the water in the pond to the right of Alpha base. As the Xbox is effectively the Dreamcast 2, the water in Sonic Adventure 1 reminds me a lot of Halo’s water and it’s at its most clear here (no pun intended).

I guess the DX team were inspired by Halo’s water being its own homage to SA1. That’s one of the few and only actual upgrades SA1 DX brought. Otherwise, it’s the Dreamcast counterpart to Halo PC.

Act 3: Reunion Tour

The music here I always associate with grand coastal vistas and nostalgic revelations. Once in primary 4 or 5 at school, we went on a field trip to the Buckie Drifter fishing and lifeboat museum back when it was open. (It’s closed down now) We drove back past the fishing village where I go on vacation and when I pointed this out to my buddies, namely Ryan Mutch and Craig Davis, I couldn’t get this same Halo song out of my head. Shame there’s no dramatic or comedic music timing in real life for such situations. :(

There’s a pair of ghosts up the hill ahead and the next terminal beside an overturned gungoose right outside the tunnel. We are back in original terrain territory now.

Those charging stations are unique to SPV3. Normally you do the Marathon alien weapons thing and replace any plasma weapons you run low on, as humans don’t know how to recharge them. Projectiles weapons like the handheld fuel rod cannon, needler, carbine, shredder and brute shot are treated like any human weapon. However, SPV3 takes a page from both Marathon Eternal X & Marathon Redux, and adds those things later in the game to recharge your plasma weapons whenever you stand next to them. They come in handy more than a little bit, especially on Two Betrayals. The door leading deeper into Alpha Base’s upper levels was to the left of the junction that led to the motte lift, but it’s sealed.

Further up the hill is a crashed lifepod by the stream guarded by a brute, grunts and jackals, but no sign of survivors. “Lifepod’s totalled sir.” The gunner of my hog says. “There are weapons and supplies everywhere, but I can’t find any bodies! Maybe somebody made it out of here alive?” The last (in order) of the Johnson terminals is inside the pod.

Orion is the prototype of the Spartan II program. Johnson’s own augmentations save his life later on, but you wouldn’t know how unless you read First Strike.

There’s a small pass with a pair of blue lights marking the way. It comes out on the cliff edge by another structure similar to the one in the first valley. Cortana thinks the marines are hiding in there. Too bad they’ve got company. I replaced my focus rifle with a sniper rifle and use it to clear out the nearest elites and grunts on the structure and the closer of the two tunnel bunkers. I learn that the sniper rifle’s recoil from the sequels has been retroactively added in, which makes sniping fast a tad more tricky.

I then take the gauss warthog down and mop up the rest. The clueless pillock at the turret doesn’t seem to realise that shooting the nasty things will stop them hurting him, so I park the gauss hog by the main structure’s right ramp and deal with the remaining covenant on foot. I find the last Spark terminal in the sequence on top of the second tunnel bunker. After I pass through the main building’s basement below, I find the other Forerunner terminal on the roof of the first bunker, so I’ve listed the terminals in the right order.

For the moment, Spark doesn’t know the half of it. The ramp doors in these tunnel bunkers do open, and let me into the basement of the main building. The marines are pinned down by an elite and some grunts and skirmishers. There’s a pit in here with a pair of tiny bridges crossing it. At the bottom is the source for this structure’s beacon, which is normally shown up top on the others.

Cortana calls for an evac, but a phantom shows up after I clear the area of aliens. Once I look at Forerunner terminal 5, I go and deal with the brutes it drops. My gunner is still a useless SOB. Foehammer contacts us just in time as we are ready for dust-off. Rawley has spotted 2 more lifepods in this part of the mesa; one near a rockslide, and another by one more beacon complex at the head of the river. Naturally the Covenant are there too. Foehammer drops a fresh warthog for me. Hopefully the gauss gunner getting cold feet was just a glitch.

I stop a moment to admire the view of the sea and hills below the mesa. I’m a sucker for pretty skyboxes and grand vistas, and Halo 1 has one of the prettiest I’ve seen: The curve and arch of the ring gently sloping up in the distance, with the clouds, sea and land in the distance making a sweet focus against a backdrop of stars and threshold in the blue sky. And just look at the sea, it’s so peaceful.


https://youtu.be/5fOXvXrCaTA?t=21

In this remake, there’s now a mountain range in the distance over the sea, which reminds me of the Marathon Eternal X Kingdom Valley (actually an aerial New Zealand shot) skybox in the success plank dreams. Given a couple of revelations in Chapter 5 of Eternal X, this may not be a coincidence.

There’s a particularly pointy mountain to the arbitrary “west” behind me. It looks like the same mountain from The Raccoons and the Lost Star where the installation control room was, that Cyril Sneer just so happened to build his fortress in. The only difference is the snow and icecap.

There’s still another Covenant terminal to find before we leave. It’s on top of the main building next to one of the ramps.

Important to note is that while there is a compass on the assault rifle, there’s no actual pole for it to align to. Instead, the compass points in the direction of Threshold in the sky, even though as the whole ring is made from metal below the habitat space, any compass shouldn’t work at all. That’s assuming the Forerunner metal is magnetic though.

I don’t know if Covenant religion has been adopted by the fanbase like the Warrior Cats (no relation to Thundercats 2011) and Jedi were, but if so, a human priest or pope may consider the sights of the Halo rings and ARK a manifestation of Eden.

Leaving the edge of the butte, I follow a tunnel through the rock wall to the last of the beacon complexes, running over some skirmishers by the lifepod just down the slope. Cortana notes the marines hiding on the hill above the structure. I deal with the Covenant below by running them all over while I gunner and passenger hit the guys I can’t reach. I’m able to quickly save the warthog from tumbling over the edge of the beacon tower’s balcony as I fight an elite by quickly revving back up from an Italian Job position. My memory was refreshed by the cliff edge beacon that the warthog stops being able to heal you at any time if it takes damage, so keep those shields up!

There’s sniper rifle ammo by a dead marine leaning on a rock on top of the hill, though he may be just wounded according to the guy who greets me. A phantom shows up near the escape pod so I drive back down and do doughnuts all over the troopers. Foehammer calls in, ready for another pickup. Now that we’ve taken Alpha Base, the marines we rescue have somewhere to go. The final Covenant terminal is in the single tunnel bunker.

High Charity will be in orbit by the time of Halo 2 and the Fleet of Particular Justice is led by Thel Vadumee who I mentioned in Stage 1. Through the other exit to this area is a large waterwall where the river in this part of the mesa begins. Some skirmishers and an elite are on the other bank up a steep but short slope. “Warning: I’ve picked up reports that the Covenant has located and secured the Pillar of Autumn’s crash site.” Cortana tells me as I accidentally drift off the edge of the steep part when fighting the elite, doing a perfect 360 spin in the air as I land in the stream, like a skateboarder. “The good news is the Captain is still alive. The bad news is that the Covenant have captured the entire surviving command crew.” She’s only partially right, as they captured Keyes and a couple of marines but killed the rest of the actual bridge techs according to the book. Cortana insists that I hurry to the final pod, which is down another stone tunnel.

I arrive in a box canyon with the rockslide that Echo 419 mentioned. The marines are concealed amongst the scree below the hills. The last terminal in this level is next to a rock ramp leaning on the largest of the flat topped boulders. The first of several waves of phantoms shows up as I look at it.

This is before the one in the lifepod earlier so I guess the mod makers wanted you to find this one first. All the Covenant waves here are great for doing doughnuts through and both a gunner and passenger come in very handy. If they die, there’s a gungoose by the lifepod if you need it. I score a 7-10 split with the first phantom, but the rest are all strikes. The Covenant are repelled and the marines can regroup at Alpha Base for some well-deserved rest. The ODSTs lead by Major Silva according to the book will try and take back the Pillar of Autumn and salvage supplies and vehicles from there, which is how we have plenty on us in each level. It’s rough going, there’s definitely going to be ambushes along the way, the ship crashed on the coastal hills of a massive desert 1200 kilometres up-spin (arbitrary north) and the inside is heavily guarded. Well, maybe it’ll turn out alright. And…maybe it won’t.

When Echo 419 comes to pick us up as well as the marines, Cortana tells me that she’s found Captain Keyes! The Covenant have been rounding up potential prisoners of war they deem useful and taking them to the mountain. Keyes they will interrogate but the marines held captive with him are likely just tea for the Jiralhanae. This is a major difference from the original game and Anniversary: in those, the Covenant ship where Keyes is held, the Truth and Reconciliation is floating approximately 300 metres above a desert plateau roughly 300 kilometres up-spin. You can even see the desert at night stretching on far below. In SPV3 on the other hand, it’s now a traditional snowy mountain. While a coincidence, I can’t help but feel it’s another parallel to the Lost Star again. Cortana’s line about where the Covenant cruiser is has been edited to account for the fact that the mountain is no longer a desert one, but you can easily hear where the word “desert” was edited out. It’s like a sentence mixed line from a youtube poop.

I propose we make a raid into the mountain. Tonight! And rescue our Captain and the other marines. As I climb into the troop compartment, Echo 419 welcomes us aboard. Cortana addresses her co-pilot and says to both him and Rawley that we’ll need their help on a rescue mission. Foehammer takes off and heads for Alpha Base.

Oh no! Captain Keyes has been captured by the Covenant! He’s being held in a mountain fortress, specifically a Covenant cruiser hovering above it. Silva sends me in with a squad of ODSTs to fight our way up the gravity elevator and tear up the inside, like Pfhor your Eyes Only: full 3D edition. Many obstacles await the perilous path and getting out again will be a challenge. Next time on Halo SPV3; Stage 3: The Truth and Reconciliation. Now the adventure evolves.

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Let's Play Halo SPV3 Stage 3Lion O Cyborg 1/21/20 12:03 p.m.
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