Let's Play Halo SPV3 Stage 5B
Posted By: Lion O CyborgDate: 3/23/20 7:13 a.m.

Halo SPV3 Stage 5B: Assault on the Control Room continued from Stage 5A

Act 3: If I had a Super Weapon…

…Solaris knows what I’d do. This anti-gravity lift descends much deeper but moves much faster than the other ones. The active camo wears out before I reach the bottom. There’s sleeping grunts just outside by more of those computer antenna things that look like the Covenant weapon space crates. Maybe they’re Luminary scanners like in Contact Harvest?

There’s a shade turret and brute meat hooks in behind this wall. My visor frosts up again and it’s getting colder, so I must be nearly outside. The next covenant terminal is behind some space crates near the meat hooks. The next forerunner terminal is right under where the shade was.

Ah, now I see. The Shadow starting out as a prototype Spectre and being remodelled as an army truck is part of the lore now according to the mod. The spectres are specifically the redesigned old Shadows and the old Shadows are the ones here. Even so, I’d still rather they were called Spectres and we’d also get actual Shadows from Halo 2 in this mod. He’s not kidding about the defences around the control room: they are indeed that tough, even moreso in this mod.

Grunt and jackal forms are brand new to SPV3, the latter slightly less so as they appeared in Halo Wars as actual combat forms. It’s a bit different here.

Through the next door sans connecting hallway, is a gigantic cavern miraculously with trees growing in it, with yawning crevasses below double width light bridges and deep blue fog everywhere. Seems I must be at the ringworld’s bellybutton, according to Sonic X (subbed) and Mother 2:

Original Japanese text: "koko wa chikyuuno heso!"
Heh, so?

There’s ghosts, brutes, elites, and jackal snipers (oh my!) everywhere and wraiths lurk in the pea soup ahead. I use the battle rifle on some grunts and deal with everything else on this ridge using a ghost I steal from just outside a sealed tunnel nearby. The down the ridge a little is a crashed pelican with a terminal by it, guarded by a spectre. This is the only terminal in this cavern so all that matters now is taking the tank I find here.

The light bridges are connected by junctions made of those Evil Bunny Rabbit of Doom gates from before, only here they look less intimidating. There’s also what looks like a giant underground dam to my right, but if there’s water I didn’t see it. Wraiths guard the junctions and the tunnels down each spoke. After destroying the shades in the first gate, I ditch the grizzly and hijack the wraith instead to show off the normal one.

No longer do I have to wait until Halo 2 to drive those. Wraiths usually have a piss-poor boost (which gets rectified in Halo 4) compared to the ghost, banshee and spectre but as there’s no boost in Halo 1, the SPV3 wraiths do something you cannot do in Halo 2: fire the mini plasma turrets on the fore wings. Only Halo 2’s wraith had those turrets but only the AI could use them, leaving the player stuck with just the mortar even before Halo 3 gave them a gunner controlled turret alongside the scorpion. Not here: we get to use both. 3 wraiths wait for me on the junction with the other gates in the middle of the crevasse. The light bridges to the left and right aren’t on right now so my only option is to continue straight ahead to another snow ridge.

There’s hunters and at least 2 more wraiths here so pepper the left tank on the rock outcropping with fiery willy shaped artillery from the light bridge before moving in. You may also try it with the right tank too just to be safe. I make use of my secondary turrets so you can see them in action.

There’s an anti-air wraith guarding the tunnel to the third canyon. In my Legendary run, I hijacked it and used the AA Wraith instead at this point as you barely get a shot of it at Alpha Base. However, as the AA Wraith is now shit in SPV3.2, I pass this time. There’s several blockades of tough aliens, tanks and turrets in the tunnel, but they’re no match for a mortar to the face. The tunnel slowly spirals upward toward the surface, through a narrow pass and past blue chase lights before finally coming out in the third canyon. Unlike vanilla and Anniversary, this one is drastically extended from the original: I come out in a huge metal bunker designed similarly to the pipes pit in below the bridges in the last fjord, with marines fighting off Covenant in the snowy hills above.

Act 3 part 2: Ascension – Beware of Abandoned Beer Planes

I love the tunnel effects when you come out of dark tunnels in SPV3, where everything appears really dark or in this case really bright and focuses as you get closer, like how the later Source engine builds handle it based on real life.

There’s a rocket hog ahead and aliens everywhere, the toughest so far being a pair of hunters, jackals, ghosts and spectres at the start. Once I finally manage to clear them out and take the rocket hog by the crashed pelican, I tear all over the hills blowing up the covenant with my gunner and a passenger armed with a rocket launcher of his own. Besides the large bridge in the screenshot above, there’s a lookout platform protruding from halfway up the cliff above the bridge, a bunch of wraiths over the ice & snow, some locked doors on a large gallery far behind us when we exit the tunnel, and the music from the Sentinel factory in Halo 2 playing all throughout. Either my gunner or passenger accidentally fires a rocket too close when aiming for a grunt near a wraith higher up the hills, making us do a perfect triple backflip just like at Alpha Base. I’m still surprised that flip doesn’t tip us out.

Past a flock of jackals, an AA Wraith and 2 spectres is the Silver Pyramid and Shuttle Tower that is Halo’s Control Centre at long last, over a small frozen lake. It’s been moved now that the end of the original third fjord has been opened up, but there’s still even a frozen waterfall.

Wow! It’s even more beautiful when you look at it up close.

This one in SPV3 looks a little darker, but that’s because it’s around the corner in the shade, plus my visor is all frosted up.

“The entrance to the top of the Control Centre is located at the top of the pyramid. Let’s get up there.” Cortana tells me.

The marines get their asses handed to them and the hog is almost destroyed, but I am able to rocket the wraiths and get to cover in the large pit where the giant bracing goes. I thought this pit was deep enough to kill you at one point as a kid (probably as I didn’t understand falling damage?) though you could still climb out, and Halo 3’s version of this area making the pit bottomless didn’t help. Unlike Halo 3, the vanilla ice bridge where you used to come out in this canyon is still there, but the doors are useless now.

There’s the final human terminal in the pit among the supplies. Wren thought the supplies were still there when we played Halo 3 together and boy, did he get a nasty shock, despite my warning him.

Damn, Doe’s pelican must have been the one I found the second tank at. Was she among the marines holed up in this fjord? I also notice a differently designed Forerunner terminal by the bottom of the buttress, bleeding in from the ultrareality so I check it out.

From a certain angle, the ship resembles some kind of human shuttle, with the raised tail and engine nacelles. Maybe it was lost here due to a slipspace accident? I thought it might have been a plane instead of a shuttle, going by the (now debunked) myths about the Bermuda Triangle, but it’s far too big to be an airplane. This is never confirmed nor denied by 343 Industries. Who or what were the real occupants of this ship. No-one knows. And we may well never know.

343 Guilty Spark choosing to block their distress call and not respond to it himself, attempting to make contact bites him in the ass quickly, as the people –if any- trapped on board think that nobody is here and nobody is coming.

In vanilla, Cortana suggests we commandeer one of those ghosts by the bottom of the Silver Pyramid, as we’re going to need the firepower. She’s right. There’s hunters, elites, lots of grunts and shades on every tier of the pyramid’s path, winding up the outside via ramps and small tunnels like layers on a wedding cake. There’s 2 of every hunter type on the bottom tier, so I take both a shade cannon and an assault beam cannon.

There are big shards of metal from the ring (possibly scrap from the foundry mentioned earlier?) serving as makeshift sandbags along the ramp. With the hunter weapons, the ghost may not be needed on Heroic after all in SPV3, so I leave it and plan to fetch it afterward if things get too hairy.

After dealing with honour guards and shades just below the top, then coming back down to replace my fuel rod beam cannon with a full one and my shade cannon with a plain fuel rod assault cannon, I find the second last covenant terminal on the right side of the pyramid by the hunter bodies.

Pressing back to the top, there’s no reason in vanilla to climb the ramp up the bottom section of the Shuttle Tower until later, but now there is: the last Forerunner terminal is waiting up there as high as the ramp will go.

Ho boy, the Sentinel Enforcers. Those are from Halo 2 as well and are way worse than any other sentinel type. The Halo 2 guide calls them Sentinel Majors but that’s not actually true: the majors are the gold drones with the blue beams according to the Halo wiki.

The “incineration cannon” they use is from Halo 4 and is the most powerful weapon in that game, used by the worst of the Promethean Knight ancillas. The Halo 2 original Enforcers use red, non-explosive needlers on their arms as well as rocket like mortars. All of them can destroy vehicles in 1 hit if they grab them in their arms and they have jackal like shields on the front, making them look like metal jellyfish. We will see them in 2 levels time counting the rest of this one.

With my Fuel Rod Assault Beam in hand, I open the giant doors in the cliff wall at the top of the pyramid, revealing an army of honour guards and grunts beyond. In vanilla, it’s a sword Zealot, a bunch of grunts and major elites at the far end. The music here is the second half of Covenant Dance, one of the absolute best and horribly underused songs in Halo 1. The looping Covenant Dance part 2 doesn’t even appear on the soundtrack CD either! When I heard the remix of this song merged with Leela for Eternal X, I was thoroughly overjoyed as 2 of my favourite Bungie songs were together in a near perfect mashup. Too bad that remix only appeared in a single map. :(

Just before the second door is the final covenant terminal.

The final hallway is completely empty. Cortana assures me that all the Covenant here are dead so we should push on. Opening the final door into Halo’s Control Centre, I am greeted with a titanic room of ridged walls that look strong enough to sustain a missile blast or two. A magnifying glass shaped catwalk made of mirrors extends to the main terminal and glass windows, the latter being repurposed as side screens in Anniversary. “This is it, Halo’s Control Centre” Cortana confirms.

From above, Halo’s Control Room looks like the Marathon Glyph i.e. the Forerunner symbol for Reclaimer. In the middle, a holographic map of this part of the Soell system hovers above the well where Halo’s main neutrino beam is fired from. Between Threshold and Basis is a tiny hologram of the ring itself, not that I noticed it at first as I kid as my eyes were drawn to the main, giant hologram of the ringworld around the edge of the catwalk.

Now why couldn’t we get something like that as the Silent Cartographer?! This map of the ring is WAY nicer than the official map room! “That terminal, try there.” Following Cortana’s advice, I take her pattern chip out of my head and insert it into a convenient slot in the giant holo panel. Cortana appears gigantic over the terminal and in vanilla, she flashes bright green. Based on what I read on the Halo wiki before I played Marathon, I thought that this was referencing rampancy specifically, as rampant AIs were described as being green, such as Durandal and the malfunctioning defence drones.

Nope. Either I misremembered what I read or the wiki has been updated since then, but Cortana flashes more colors than just green: she flashes every single color of all 3 of the Marathon’s AIs at once. The implication is the same. In SPV3, her “thong” now pulsates hot pink instead.

“You alright?” I inquire. I hadn’t expected this. “Never been better!” Cortana beams. “You can’t imagine the wealth of information. The knowledge, so much so fast. It’s glorious!”

"You wouldn’t believe this ring. The technology, the data…”

“So,” I ask. “What sort of weapon is it?” For a moment, she looks surprised. “What are you talking about?”

“Let’s stay focused.” I respond. “Halo. How do we use it against the Covenant?”

Cortana frowns. Suddenly her voice becomes filled with distain. “This ring isn’t a cudgel, you barbarian. It’s something else. Something much more important. The covenant were right. This ring…it’s Forerunner." As she pauses for that second before confirming the species who built this place, her eyes move back and forth and she slightly shakes her head as she scans the tidal wave of data she now accesses. “Give me a second to access.”

A moment later she speaks again, her words coming out in a flood. “Yes, the Forerunner built this place, what they called a “fortress world” in order to…”

I’d never heard her speak this way before, didn’t like her calling me a barbarian and I’m just about to yank her out of the terminal when she speaks again, now alarmed. “Wait…no that can’t be. Oh, those Covenant fools! They must have known! There must have been signs!” Now it’s my turn to frown. “Slow down, you’re losing me.”

Cortana’s eyes widen in horror. “The Covenant found something, buried in this ring. Something horrible, and now, they’re afraid.” Can you guess, folks? All throughout this scene, the quieter version of Shadows from the song Truth & Reconciliation suite starts off quiet and slowly gets louder and more frantic, making this scene that much scarier, especially at the end.

“Something buried? What…” Cortana suddenly interrupts me, looking off into the distance as if she can actually see Jacob Keyes. “The Captain! We’ve got to stop the captain!” “Keyes?” I ask, confused. “What do we…”

“The weapons cache he’s looking for, it’s not really…we can’t let him get inside!” “I don’t understan…” Cortana cuts me off again:

“There’s no time!” she says urgently. Her eyes are now neon pink and focus on me like twin lasers. “Get out of here, find Keyes, stop him!” As I follow her advice and run off, a panicked and worried look comes over her as she yells after me. “Before it’s too late!”

As I sprint for the entrance to call Echo 419 for transport, I hear that same pink, broken nosed guy voice coming from a vent somewhere before it devolves into malicious laughter, “Jungle rendezvous. How appropriate."

Emergency! Captain Keyes is in trouble once again! Down in the jungle where nobody goes, the lurking horror from Forerunner history is trying on new clothes. Even the Covenant are scared shitless by it. The consequences of us unlocking the Silent Cartographer finally catch up to us in the now not as shocking twist that brought us nightmares and mental Chinese burns as children. Next time on Halo SPV3; Stage 6: 343 Guilty Spark. Now the adventure evolves.

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