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Let's Play Halo SPV3 Stage 3 (Proper)
Posted By: Lion O CyborgDate: 1/21/20 1:00 p.m.

Stage 3: The Truth and Reconciliation

(Just realised I pulled a PID Tour of Duty and accidentally named Stage 2 Stage 3 instead. Oops.)

Board a Covenant ship in an attempt to rescue Captain Keyes

Welcome back to this Tour of Duty side series for Halo 1: SPV3. Into this update, we learned that Captain Keyes has been captured and held in a Covenant ship called the Truth and Reconciliation, floating over a mountain far to the “north” of the mesa that Alpha Base is on. I think I saw it in the skybox of the last part as well. We start the level with a sniper rifle and extra ammo as a one-off. High velocity, armour piercing. They’ll take the hat off an elite at 2000 yards. And they ain’t cheap: once the ammo counter goes below the normal maximum, there’s no getting 64 rounds back, so you better make your shots count. Halo would explore this concept again in Halo Reach with the Nightfall level. An AI exclusive to the book called Wellesley has forged signals to trick the cruiser’s sensors into thinking that our pelican is one of their own. And so, I and the ODST gang started for the mountain. Armed only with limited ammo, and hope.

Act 1: Truth and Reconciliation: Neither Top nor Bottom

This is the first level to include a loadout menu like in Halo Reach’s firefight and multiplayer modes, as well as Halo 4’s Spartan Ops (firefight crossed with campaign as an episodic expansion pack).

Well we start with the element of surprise, so I’ll go with stealth. The silenced SMG it gives me comes with a scope and it’s from Halo 3: ODST. If I need a battle rifle or DMR, I can always take one from a dead marine as there’s plenty serving as ammo caches for the sniper rifle throughout the level.

It’s blowing a hooley as my grandpa would say, as we approach the peak of the mountain. The blizzard makes everything darker, which should cover our approach. To answer a marine’s question, Sgt Johnson says that there’s a gravity elevator to move troops and supplies between the ship and the surface. When the pelican’s hatch opens, we all pile out. The scope on my sniper rifle is now green and I have a VISR.

Cortana warns about the shade turrets in the next pass, recommending I use my rifle to kill the gunners and the surrounding guards. She specifies a sniper rifle but it’s another youtube poop edit again due to the loadout system in this remake’s of the level allowing me to use other sniping weapons like the Battle Rifle, DMR and what is either the Focus Rifle or the Carbine.

She then tells the marines to wait until we the Covenant actually fire back, so as to keep the element of surprise. The idea is to do the sniping from the higher ground on the right, behind some icy rocks.

This part is fun when you know how to do it right, but it’s very difficult to not get spotted. According to my Halo Anniversary guide I got back in 2011 & 2012, I need to just barely peek out and shoot, diving back behind the rocks after firing or making a kill to avoid being seen. Once I’m sure the coast is clear, keep at it but I should not expose myself. Prioritise kills when you can. If the only enemies are below the ledge out of sight when standing by the cliff wall, it may be safe to crouch there and either hit them when they appear, or sneak to the other side. There’s an arch in the rock further down the ledge where you can go if required.

Both the main versions of Halo 1 have a night vision mode in the sniper rifle scope, but it sucks in Anniversary as unlike the original Halo 1, it’s too bright and there’s too much grass in the way, making it impossible to see anything unless you switch to classic mode or leave night vision off. SPV3 has the VISR so we’re good.

Other than having to pause now and then to let my flashlight/armour ability battery recharge, everything goes according to plan and nobody sees me, even when the reinforcements come around the corner to see what’s going on. Normally this is the spot where you go in guns blazing. I guess the flash suppressor on my sniper rifle really helped here.

I have to say, I’m disappointed in the skybox for this level. In the vanilla game, we see the desert at night far below the cliffs and the ring sloping up as usual in the background, but it’s even prettier than during the day. It’s a similar idea to the Lh’owon citadel skybox at night in Marathon 2.

Besides the corrupted translucency of the blue light in the spirit dropships, the night desert skybox is the first example of broken graphics in Halo PC vanilla that I actually noticed when I originally played: you see more of the ring due to a lighting error, which isn’t that bad but what is bad is the fact that the desert below is now a nasty grey, blue and white like rotten flesh. In this image, the PC skybox is on the left.


https://youtu.be/gxcHTX6fAVI?list=PLjpAzVTa-X3T_hnkWkWWQbvLr-XIE6pjY&t=602

Halo Reach’s level Nightfall is basically this whole section extended into an entire level, with plenty of fun sneaking around and sniping, taking place on a massive ridge above a desert on Reach. 343 industries knew this and made the Anniversary version of the Halo 1 desert night skybox look similar.

SPV3 on the other hand, uses just a black void with clouds and fog you cannot see without the VISR. It’s shit. If I were them, I’d keep the clouds and fog but for god’s sake I’d at least include the skybox with the ring in the background and maybe some more mountain peaks surrounding us, like in the Anniversary skybox. Turns out they sort of did that, but only a single mountain the upper part of the ring in the top of the skybox. The rest is the boring black void I thought it was.


https://youtu.be/gxcHTX6fAVI?list=PLjpAzVTa-X3T_hnkWkWWQbvLr-XIE6pjY&t=127

Cortana warns of movement around the first bend. The marines wait until I’m seen again but this time you aren’t expected to stealth it anymore, barring maybe the last part of the mountain. There’s a terminal to the right under a ledge next to a Covenant work light.

Once everyone around here is dead, some brutes and jackal snipers come around the next bend. I take a carbine from them. Interesting to note that there’s several Marathon references in this level. For one, as Viking Boy Billy pointed out in the first Halo Tour of Duty, the Covenant ship was deliberately designed to resemble Boomer in Marathon 1.

Granted, as parts of the mountain are in the way, it could just as much look like Moya or the Space Colony ARK, but basing it on Pfhor ships was more or less the idea. Covenant ships do have more of a fish like shape to them though, as seen in Halo 2. On top of that, High Charity looks more like the Space Colony ARK than this ship does as mentioned before. The Space Colony ARK of the Covenant if you will.

The other thing is that the Covenant work lights around the paths are directly based on Pfhor fighter shock staffs.


Note: The Halo Refined screenshot here is from Assault on the Control Room.

Around the next bend, there’s 2 paths into the basin ahead you can take: up the middle or around to the left. The marines will take the other path so together you flank the enemy. Do this on Legendary in vanilla however and they all get massacred. I’m surprisingly having an easier time on Heroic in SPV3.2 than I’ve done in the original build. I guess they toned the difficulty down a little, or Heroic in SPV3 is less hard than I remember, probably as I just remembered Legendary, which really is as hard as I thought. Maybe the difficulty will pick up once I reach Assault on the Control Room.

Anyway, I always take the first path but what I like to do now is snipe all the covies before the marines enter the basin, then I’m going right up the middle: stand on the rock to the far right of this area below the ledge and jump up to sight enemies. Then, quickly scope & shoot them. Only do that to clear the closest ones and then crouch jump onto the ledge. Sniping everyone else should be a piece of cake. Don’t go too far forward or you’ll trigger Cortana sending the marines up the left path. Stay by the edge and move carefully to the side to hit the shades near the rock bridge out of view.

A phantom arrives after I get everyone so I take cover below the ice ledge again. Then I jump back up and continue sniping. Only once the coast is clear do I take the middle path and let the marines flank what’s left. Some grunts and at least 1 elite only spawn by the shade in the far left corner once you enter the basin. This coupled with the dropship showing up is why it’s a bad idea to let the marines enter the basin straight away on Legendary. You will need them alive for the next part.

Mopping up the remaining elites, jackal snipers and grunts is easy. Cortana reiterates the point about the gravity lift here. One of the marines isn’t happy with the odds and says we’re “the few, the proud, the expendable”. I’m running low on sniper rounds by this point and I’d already restocked back at the cache, so I use my Carbine more. Turns out this carbine has a purple shot trail instead of the usual yellow green, which is why I mistook it for a Reach needle rifle.

The Carbine is the Covenant version of the Battle Rifle, introduced in Halo 2. The Rampancy boys –mostly Blackstar- call it the “Carbean” which is an OK nickname as it makes me hungry for a can of baked beans. In the main games, it’s a projectile weapon, firing radioactive rounds. The SPV3 version is the Particle Carbine, which is an energy based version of the same weapon.

The second terminal is behind the further shade you can see here.

When VBB covered this level in Halo PC vanilla, he raised an interesting point as to why was Keyes captured. Halo: The Flood only says they wanted to capture Keyes because Nosolee deemed him important and a valuable prize, but according to Zamamee’s terminal, I guess we know the full reason why now. Zamamee is an important book exclusive character with his own subplot: he gets his ass kicked by the chief on the Autumn, but doesn’t die and is saved by a platoon of grunts lead by one called Yayap, who are looking for an easy excuse not to fight.

Zamamee has Yayap transferred to his unit as a personal assistant in hunting the chief down in revenge, much to Yayap’s chagrin. His request is denied until after this level, when our successful assault makes the single San’Shyuum on board the cruiser think twice.

Anyway, the fight in the gravity lift loading zone is awful on Legendary as it has many more waves than the others and Halo’s checkpoint system is terrible. VBB brought this up as well and he’s right. You see, Halo’s save system is notorious because it only saves checkpoints when it wants to; you can only save the most recent one when you quit on Xbox. PC lets you save the last checkpoint at any time, but only the last checkpoint. Sometimes you can get caught in a loop if it saves in the wrong place e.g. when falling off a cliff. Halo 2 onward has a failsafe for this, where dying too often too quickly sends you back to the checkpoint before the last one, ending the loop.

That’s a double edged sword however, as really hard sections on Legendary can kill you enough times to trigger the failsafe and there’s nothing you can do about that. It’s very annoying.

SPV3 has a feature I discovered on my Legendary run of the original build at this point and it’s that the “save last checkpoint” feature from PC now creates a new checkpoint, allowing you to save at any time. This is a godsend on Legendary and it’s a problem that the main games don’t have this. If you want to follow in my footsteps and use this as a walkthrough (Narc & Blackstar if you’re reading, feel free to do so if you stream SPV3 sometime) and are covering Legendary, exploit manual saving whenever you can.

Now, I take an active camo powerup from near some trees on a nearby hill before I enter the clearing under the ship. This lets me stealth kill the grunts, jackals, skirmishers and elites closest to the pass leading in. If the marines still follow you, they just attack immediately whether you are seen or not. Go too far without them and Cortana will radio Echo 419 to send more, even though they haven’t actually died yet.

I have to reload a couple of times to do it right, but I manage it. This is one of the only safe times on Legendary to use a shade turret yourself. (I’m still on Heroic in this run) I use it to hose the reinforcements that come down the gravity lift. Another phantom shows up too. I learn the VISR doesn’t work when using a shade. The marines get killed by the covenant so Foehammer sends more, using the pelican’s chaingun turret to protect them. The shades in this game are shaped like kettles, held up by blue fire. The SPV3 version adds the jackal style shields from the Halo 2 shade as well, and gives them their Halo 2 firing sound; it’s exactly the same sound as the basic laser weapon in Freespace 1, which is a nice touch.

The checkpoint I get is my cue that hunters are going to show up. This is the first time they appear in vanilla. Unlike the previous hunters, those ones’ assault cannons are the Halo 2 ones that fire beams. Like the Halo 3 versions, they don’t have the drum magazine but are colored red unlike that game to tell them apart from the normal fuel rod cannons.

The next two terminals are around the lift base. One is from Keyes and the other from Zuka Zamamee.

Turns out it wasn’t the grunts blabbing around Keyes after all: Zamamee was deliberately either speaking English or relying on the translator devices to goad Keyes into giving up information of his own, thinking it wouldn’t matter as he’d never get out anyway. This will backfire spectacularly when we rescue him.

Cortana radios Echo 419 to drop off more marines, either extra ODSTs or normal ones I don’t know. The CNI transponder (Command Neural Interface) the Captain has will make tracking him easier once we’re inside the ship.

Once everyone has arrived, we stand in the gravity elevator. Sadly we cannot ride it ourselves and have to watch it happen in a cutscene, but all other games starting with Halo 2 let us ride gravity elevators properly.

Act 2: Into the Belly of the Beast: From No View to a Kill

First a little tidbit about the Truth and Reconciliation: originally you were supposed to board it using a large ramp but that was cut not only because it sounded stupid, but getting too close to the ship made it look no different to any of the human ships. I can’t remember where I read that specific part, but I don’t even know if my source was even an online one. Not to mention gravity lifts are something everyone associates with UFOs and aliens anyway, going by their depicted use in abductions.

I’ve kept my sniper rifle from below. On lower difficulties, even on Heroic at this point, I ditch it in favour of other weapons as that’s what you’d expect to do. However, this level is absolutely brutal on Legendary, even when you get into the ship. The shuttle bay is the worst because there’s tough enemies on the upper levels as well as your own that make the first battle in here hell; getting close enough to any elites without getting killed or even hitting the ones above you is a tall order.

I gave this advice to VBB in his Halo 1 PC coverage: apparently according to my Halo Anniversary strategy guide, you’re supposed to keep the sniper rifle for the whole level on Legendary specifically to deal with the tougher enemies in the “muster bay” tank hanger, shuttle bay and maybe even the bridge, preferably only keeping a plasma rifle and grenades for normal enemies. Even I thought that’s not only counter intuitive, but downright idiotic. What use is a sniper rifle somewhere that’s mostly actual mazes of narrow hallways? Romeo from Halo 3 ODST put it best: “What the hell am I supposed to do with this inside a Covenant ship?

SPV3 is a little lighter on this touch as you now have access to the Battle Rifle, DMR and Carbine, all of which are more appropriate indoors as well as outdoors and they have a scope for sniping. The room just at the top of the gravity elevator is also where you start seeing the plasma weapon recharge stations, so if you have a carbine and can backtrack to one, you can virtually give it infinite ammo. This applies to all plasma weapons, those recharge columns are incredibly useful. In fact on Two Betrayals, you will need them.

Personally, I like the use of purple and lavender for the Covenant ships. While Pfhor Your Eyes Only is intended to definitely feel alien and inspire fear with its texture design, limits on weapon usage, the darkness and brand new mission type, the Covenant ships aren’t really intended to convey that, other than maybe when the Flood get involved later. Instead, they sort of go for a more “Aliens meets Durandal controlled Boomer” feel, which seems to fit the idea of religious artistic styles that are still alien, whereas Pfhor ships are intended to come across as Alien 1 meets Doctor Who (Hartnell to Pertwee years), with a touch of Duke Nukem 3D in Infinity.

Cortana doesn’t find anyone waiting for us when we enter the ship. “What?” a marine asks, perplexed. “There’s no Covenant here? Think maybe nobody’s home?” It’s with almost comedic timing that one of the side doors opens and an angry brute sporting power armour comes charging in with a brute shot. Normally you get either a stealth elite or a zealot, both with energy swords.

“Contact! Lots of contacts!” another ODST glares at the first marine. “”No covenant” You had to open your mouth!” he snarls. The next few minutes involve waves of aliens coming in the side doors with plenty of elites and brutes.

A large door intended for wraith tanks and other vehicles opens, letting in a brute chieftain with a plasma turret and his pack. The chieftain’s weapon is another hunter Assault Cannon reskin that we will see hunters themselves using soon, probably the basis for SPV3.2’s shitty AA Wraith cannons.

On lower difficulties in Halo 1, you get a couple of jackals and on higher, a hunter pair. Unfortunately, the door to the muster bay at the bottom is locked. Cortana suggests using the side passages to find a way around, but the marines don’t want to become another bowling analogy like I used at the end of Stage 2, so they opt to wait while I open the door from the other side. I will…after I kill the aliens in there so the marines live to see the shuttle bay.

I take a brute plasma pistol and put it to work in the hallway, relishing every flicker of the red flames.

Before entering the muster bay, I take a carbine, intending to get a brute plasma rifle or come back for my pistol, and use the active camo to deal with the brutes and grunts on the upper level. I use a brute needler on in the ramped passageway leading down and switch to the brute plasma rifle when it’s clear. Now’s the time for the covenant terminal upstairs and some plasma supported sniping. After I read Zamamee’s terminal, I go downstairs to lure more aliens out of the side passages before going up and resuming my carbine sniping. Then I read the Keyes terminal next to the ammo cache downstairs. I also take a health regen armour ability, which regenerates your health up to half only, so medipacks aren’t rendered obsolete.

That Prophet is from the book and he isn’t a hierarch, as discussed in Primer Circle 2. Humanity doesn’t know that only 3 particular San’Shyuum lead the Covenant yet. We learn that in Halo 2 during the best sequence in one of its best levels.

It’s at this point I let the marines in and fight through the corridor behind the 3 doorways to the shuttle bay. Plasma weapons for those down below, sniper rifle for those up top. It’s a good thing I have a sniping weapon as there’s an incredibly annoying shielded brute with a carbine on the high pier bisecting the hanger.

Both Halo 1 remakes make it so the open shield doors simply dim when opened, allowing ships in and out. However in the original, they open properly and in Halo PC, not only do the doors look like ass because of a translucency glitch (like the Artificial Chaos in Sonic Adventure 2) but the open door doesn’t make the door object disappear, making it look like it’s still closed. This becomes embarrassing when you can’t tell if it’s closed or not and fall through because you backed into what you thought was a solid wall:

Look at that! This is NASTY. The left door in that Halo PC vanilla screenshot is open by the way. https://youtu.be/0MDwKzH4ez8?t=1167

Here’s what it’s supposed to look like:


Open door.


Closed door.

Waves of covenant rush into the shuttle bay the further I progress inside. There’s also the level’s one and only spirit, hovering lonely in its dock above us, lonely that apparently nobody wants to play with it in this remake. The next terminal is by the ammo cache opposite the entrance below the pier.

Poetic name he has there. This is one of the few times you appreciate just how brutal and monstrous the Covenant actually are, yet the races involved don’t know their High Prophets are playing them like fiddles. Reminds me of certain human religions.

The marines notice that all the doors on this level are locked. It’s a dead end. Cortana accesses the Covenant battlenet to locate an override code to force open a door upstairs. The marines warn we can’t hold them off all day. “Working on it.” Cortana says. Then she mumbles angrily under her breath, “I’d like to see you crack a 128,000 bit modulating encryption key!”

Soon after fighting off another ambush, hunters with Fuel Rod Beam Cannons attack and the next covenant terminal is inside the door they came from. You have to be quick, or you miss it as the door they come through locks when it shuts. Once I snipe the hunters, Cortana opens the exit door and urges us through as she can’t guarantee it won’t lock again when it closes. Don’t worry: it won’t.

Unlike the vanilla game, Cortana will radio Foehammer to drop off more ODSTs if all of them die regardless of whether she’s already provided more that way or not. The second time she does this is when you reach level 2 of the shuttle bay. At this time, the left shuttle bay door is now closed so you must open it with the holo-panel on the pier. It just so happens that the last ODST after the hunter fight was killed by the 2 stealth elites in the ramps leading up so it works out fine.

The way up to level 3 and the hallway to the bridge is uneventful. There’s an ammo cache down the hall to the left of the bridge door with a health regen, first aid kit and ammo. It’s at this point I finally ditch the sniper rifle for a DMR, a much more appropriate sniping weapon for close quarters.

There’s also a white jackal riot shield i.e. “Point Defence Gauntlet” here. SPV3 lets you use jackal shields yourself when you find them on the floor like this. However, they take up a weapon slot, so it limits their actual usefulness.

Unlike human ships, Covenant ship bridges are built deep inside the hull, within several layers of armour so as to protect them from attacks. This one has a tall command terminal platform like a reverse shape of the Enterprise bridge, with a couple of rectangular pits on either side. There’s a couple of grunts sleeping by the support pillars as well as several patrolling elites. The Shipmaster, a Zealot with an energy sword, stands on the platform looking at the control panels.

Just like the original Halo 1 and the official remake, you can’t use energy swords in SPV3: as soon as the elite using the sword dies, it goes *poof!* The ODSTs take a few lumps but I help them out with my DMR. The next terminal is from the Prophet of Stewardship again: it’s behind the right pillar at the back of the bridge behind the command platform.


All of those points will come back to us in due time.

The ODSTs opt to wait here while I find Captain Keyes. Before I do though, I look at the controls on the bridge platform. There are holographic maps of the ship scrolling in the middle panel, behind the actual controls. You can make out the two brigs and the bridge we’re in as the schematics roll over them.


Hmm, there’s something odd about this panel…

It seems Covenant AIs are just as bad as the Pfhor ones, which started turning up as of Halo First Strike, this one being retroactively added to Anniversary. Unlike the Pfhor, whose AIs are crap because Pfhor programmers generally suck, the Covenant’s case may be religious red tape: Contact Harvest says that sophisticated AIs are forbidden, probably due to the stories of rampancy and Mendicant Bias turning to the Flood, with the Covenant not wanting to repeat those events.

I am disappointed. The Pfhor computer was not truly self-aware and contained no information of value to us. Pfhor technology seems quite advanced, but their programmers must be incompetent. I downloaded the machine and then eradicated it.

Down the purple corridors past grunts and jackals, I find the first brig which is empty. Cortana assures me there must be more than that the Captain must be in one of them. This one is still worth coming in however, as there’s ammo and health on a dead marine in the cells, and an active camo powerup behind the door controls. Besides a terminal, there’s a new addition here I don’t remember: there’s otherwise harmless jackals kneeling on the floor eating dead marines!


https://youtu.be/IT0XCbDU28g?t=281


Has it been an hour yet? I guess we know what he’s been seeing in that time.

I use the active camo to smack the stealth elite, jackals and skirmishers in the back of the head in the second brig. The final two terminals are here: one in the hallway outside and one behind the cell door controls where the active camo was in the other brig.

There’s a reference to Halo Wars, but I only know that second hand as I never beat it. I fear the Flood shield world level may be the infamous time limit one that pissed off Yahtzee enough to rage quit. I guess the glassing policy may even be related to how the San’Shyuum and the Jjaro both dealt with the Flood together back when they were allies, pre-Halo firing. What were the times the Covenant itself encountered them though? What other Flood research labs are there?

As for the sentinels, what they were doing was keeping out intruders like the Covenant as they are not Reclaimers, but the Covenant misinterpreted their instructions as them being left to test the worthy, like puzzles and gladiators in the trials a temple may have to discover who should be allowed to wield the Willy of Prophecy or the Noble Spitoon, as opposed to the deathtraps guarding a tomb they actually are.


I guess that explains the dead bodies I’ve been using to restock ammo and health without a second thought. Is William even still alive or did he go the way of his brother Robert? Considering those jackals earlier, he may now be Wee Willy Winkies at the Bob BQ.

Jacob is in the furthest cell on the left so I open the doors and go inside. “Coming here was reckless. You two know better than this!” he sighs in thanks disguised as mock concern. After specifying his gratitude, he regroups with the captured marines, picking up any weapons they can. Now he explains he overheard Zamamee and the others discussing Halo. Cortana hacks into the battlenet again and discovers that they believe Halo is a superweapon, but that doesn’t make sense as they actually believe it’ll turn followers of their religion into gods. Why did they say it was a weapon and that “whoever controls Halo controls the fate of the universe” to begin with? I know the actual reason: the specifics behind the Covenant’s view of the Array weren’t finalised until Halo 2 and they needed to progress the plot somehow, but it still makes you think how they even came to that conclusion. Were they simply referring to how the Forerunners used it to starve out the Flood?

Upon Captain Keyes mentioning the fate of the universe part, Cortana realises that a number of messages she’s intercepted about a Covenant search team trying to find a control room are looking for that of Halo itself, not the bridge of a ship she damaged. Keyes is rightly worried that the Covenant would use Halo against humanity and wipe us out like a reverse Eclipse Cannon.

Our new mission is to beat the covenant to Halo’s control centre and prevent them using it, something we will take 2 levels to do. Keyes grabs a shredder (needler in vanilla) off the floor and is ready to leave. “Chief, you have the point.”

Act 3: Shut Up and Get Behind Me…Sir: Unpfhorgiven II: Electric Boogaloo

When I first played back in the day and for years afterward, I thought Captain Keyes said “Chief, you have a point”, as he times his line just as the chapter screen appears and appears to be responding to it, as if the Chief is speaking quiet enough that the player can’t hear him: “Captain, shut up and get behind me.” “Yes, you have a point.” It took me reading a transcript on the Halo wiki around 3rd or 4th year in high school to find out that he was actually telling me to take point.

In vanilla and Anniversary, this part is awful. You have to keep Captain Keyes alive until the end of the level and he can be easily killed. When he dies (and he always will at least once), Cortana mournfully says that without him, the Covenant have already won…except the game almost always reloads before she finishes the line, cutting her off at “the covenant…”

This escort mission wouldn’t be so aggravating if there weren’t for those fucking grenade spamming Unggoy that ambush you in the bridge, right after dealing with stealth elites with energy swords. SPV3 takes the ever hatable “traditional escort mission formula” and throws it into a bin on the dark side of mars: Keyes in the fan remake is now completely invincible, making getting him out a non-issue.

With that in mind, I take a gleeful, blood fuelled romp back to the bridge, DMR and brute plasma rifle at the ready, even having a go of a piercer before switching to a brute plasma pistol.

This is basically the spike rifle from Halo 3 onward: an SMG with a brute shot style knife blade that fires superheated metal spikes in a similar way to the needler, but without the explosions nor tracking feature, basically like the Trooper’s Havok Rifle in Marathon sans grenade launcher. The piercer however has a slight spread and the spikes richochet off walls, making it more useful than the spike rifle even on Legendary or heroic. It can even pierce shields!

Once the stealth elites on the bridge are killed (having slaughtered the ODSTs that were here while I was gone), Cortana radios Echo 419 for extraction on the double. Rawley however is having trouble shaking air patrol ships, either banshees, spirits or phantoms and suggests finding our own getaway ship. Cortana doesn’t mention this however and says to Keyes that we need to hold here until she is able to pick us up.

One marine however, has had more than enough torture at the hands of the elites & brutes, and has a mental breakdown. “Aw man, we’re trapped in here! WE’RE SCREWED! WE’RE SCREWED MAN!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsx2vdn7gpY

“Stow that bellyaching soldier, remember you’re a leatherneck!” Keyes growls. “Cortana, if you and the chief can get us into one of those Covenant dropships, I can fly us out of here.” Guess what the only Spirit dropship that SPV3 keeps is for?

This is where the grenade spamming little smegheads I mentioned earlier storm the bridge. Good thing they can’t do jack now! >:)

It’s a simple run back to the shuttle bay. Once I release the magnetic clamps holding the spirit in its dock by the pier downstairs, it raises up to the parapet on its own and lets us on. Keyes eschews Cortana’s suggestion to let her fly it in favour of doing it himself. A hunter pair charge into the hanger at the far end of this level and try to stop us. The Captain responds by ramming the pillar they are standing beside blue light field first, crushing them with the spirit’s troop bay “wings”. “Time for a little payback!” he declares, steering us out of the still open forcefield.

As we fly out of the hanger, that hoarse voice of the broken nosed pink freak I heard back near Alpha Base rages once more: “Not again! Nincombutts! You porkers get those aliens back or I’ll cook your bacon!”

With the revelation of Halo being a weapon, coupled with a simple reference in a terminal Cortana and I found on the bridge, I and a group of marines are flown to a remote island in one of Halo’s seas in order to discover the Silent Cartographer: a map room that will lead us to Halo’s control centre. Hunters galore and shocking blink and you miss it revelations abound under the sunny sands of the alien paradise, hidden in the dark, deep bowels of the complex. Next time on Halo SPV3; Stage 4: The Silent Cartographer. Now the adventure evolves.

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