Let's Play Halo SPV3 Special Stage 2
Posted By: Lion O CyborgDate: 6/8/20 7:03 a.m.

Special Stage 2: The Commander

The Commander of the Covenant turns his attention to the Flood as he investigates the Silent Cartographer

Welcome back to Halo SPV3. Into this update, we tackle the next of the 2 SPV3 exclusive levels. Last time around I returned to the butte with Alpha Base where I tried -and mostly failed, save for the marines at the end- to evacuate it. Plenty others made it out and attempt are attempting to capture the Truth and Reconciliation to use as an escape vehicle, after purging it from the Flood. However, itís worth saying now that they donít make it: Major Silva and his jealously of John Carver and the Spartan IIs leads him to leave some specimens of the Flood on the ship alive, for the sake of capturing them and taking them back to Earth for study, like Ash in Alien.

This is an incredibly stupid move and it leads to Melissa McKay to allow the infected Jenkins (managing to fight off the Floodís control long enough) to sever an essential conduit and destroy the ship, killing everyone on board.

Now for the actual level: we take control of an Elite Zealot, namely the Supreme Commander of the Fleet of Particular Justice: Thel Vadumee, soon to be known as the Arbiter in a call forward to Halo 2, where he was a second playable character, not unlike the Tom Tom Gang in Blinx 2: Battle for Time & Space or Kurtis Trent in Tomb Raider 6 (except the latter was never a villain).

Act 1: The Will of the Prophets - Iron Gate

An Elite from Halo 3ís four player co-op called Usze briefs us as Thelís phantom touches down at the Silent Cartographer the same night John is still attempting to evacuate the Lair. ďCommander,Ē he says to Thel. ďWe last seeked words with the brutes stationed here and the flood that will cost us a certain victory, if not stopped on this island.Ē The dropshipís engine drowns him out however, making him hard to hear. Thelís friend and fellow Commander Rtus Vandumee (the Elite Ultra shipmaster from Halo 2+3) uses lines from his 2 games as we land. ďLet us find their ship. Make short work of this abomination! We shall cut into the heart of this infestation and burn any Flood that stand in our way!Ē

That health and shield symbol on the right look familiar? However, itís a bit of a plothole since, as explained in Circle 2 of the primer, the Covenant misread the Marathon/Reclaimer glyph as Reclamation simply by reading it upside down. That is not reflected here. Also, the ring ahead is either approaching dawn, or itís all blighted by the Flood, going by the orange bits.

When we get around to Halo 2 (Viking Boy Billy will be covering that), youíll come to like this guy. Heís a good leader for the Elites next to the Arbiter and like Sgt Johnson in that game, heís invincible. The first terminal is on the back of the skybridge thing behind the starting point.

The next terminal is on top of the boulder where the jackals snipers were, now crawling with Flood. Thereís no motion tracker when playing as the Arbiter (until Halo 2) and no medipacks, so instead health regenerates fully once your shields go back up.

Thelís shield is also stronger than Johnís as heís a zealot, who have stronger shields anyway.

I like how they have translator errors substituting colloquial terms like when we read the Pfhor and Sípht terminals in Marathon. Iím not sure what the ďblack armoured lanceĒ is, nor if the military officer was Keyes or someone else, but the military world is Reach and the ďinfidels unworthy name for usĒ is the elites, as their actual species name is Sangheli. (but we already know that)

Other differences are that you canít pick up human weapons (also until Halo 2) so to compensate, you now have needle grenades replacing frags (think spike grenades from Halo 3 except not sticky) and the white button lets you use an energy sword! Once its battery runs out, it automatically recharges unlike the main games. Sentinels win a fight against Flood outside the Cartographer building so I take a sentinel majorís extended range incineration beam (Forerunner weapons are still usable) and recharge my plasma rifle at a charging column on the landing pad.

More combat forms including honour guards, elite & jackal carriers and flugs await around the corner where the path to the vent shaft plug is.

Yuck, Iím not going that way. I loop around the rest of the island to the mesa where Bravo 22 crashed, below the starship Enterprise shaped structure where the security station is. The next terminal is on top of the mesa. Thereís brutes up there and they quickly turn on us. Usze deduces fear of the Flood has driven them mad. Soon after killing them, the Flood do arrive and I can test out my sword. Unlike the main games, you need to press melee as attempting the uppercut/lunge attack just makes you draw your main gun instead.

Rtus and Usze can be knocked out if they take enough damage but they donít actually die. You can revive them when that happens but due to engine limits, they canít do the same for you.

I smell a boss fight. Apparently you need to read this terminal in order to progress. However, the fleshy blob of rankness still blocks the way. I need a wraith to destroy it. Thankfully, thereís plenty back at the start but the Flood have anticipated this and are waiting for us. I then have to defend Usze as he fixes one of the wrecked tanks on the original beachhead.

Itís tricky, as Flood and sentinels attack every time he tries to fix a wraith, and every sentinel group has at least 1 enforcer. The last tank takes a while to fix but Usze gets it going. It only has half health however, so try to avoid getting it destroyed, else itís game over.

So naturally after Usze gives me that warning, of course I get hounded by more enforcers all the way back. I use the plasma turrets and only use the mortar when Iím confident it will actually hit them. Remember that enforcers can destroy vehicles in 1 hit if they grab them. The nest poos out a bunch of combat forms and gasbags when I burst it, clearing the way to the vent shaft plug. Rtus and Usze stay behind while I forge on ahead.

Itís a flug fest on the plug next. The brutes up here all get infected and thereís gasbags and elite carriers, leaving a flood of flugs when they pop. Good thing thereís an overshield and plenty of brute plasma rifles. The next terminal is here too.

Itís not long before I run into more Flood in the valley to the USS Enterprise building. I swear I heard the combat forms talk, which is weird as they shouldnít be able to do that yet: they need a Gravemind for it and they only have a Proto Gravemind.

The next terminal is on the platform below the aforementioned Star Trek thing, by the next overshield.

So Stephen must still be inside? What he says implies that the Flood have turned this place into a hive.

Thought so. Elite carriers and combat forms with active camo are the main guys here. Regular combat forms are in the pods plus thereís one or two grunt carriers. One of the pods blocks the way to the security station itself. The next terminal is by a giant abscess next to where the holopanel used to be.

That explains the hell lighting and the dark areas. It also means that so long as thereís 1 human combat form, the Flood can come and go as they please despite the lockdown in infested areas. I pop the bulging boil, whereupon Uzse warns that theyíve breached the map room but itís guarded by the Flood. He hopes my tank is still in one piece.

Act 2: Please, Make Yourself at Home Ė Death Chamber

This chapter shares its name with a late game Halo 2 one, also within a Flood level. ĒCommander, we will meet you at the Cartographer and Scout aheadĒ Usze informs me. I return to the tank, haunted by the growls and screams of the Flood and head to the main facility without incident. The two cowards remain outside like last time while I go inside alone. The door is locked again, but an honour guard form with a live plasma grenade bursts through.

ďYou deserve a better death than this.Ē

Another of those bulging incubators blocks the door to the next room and the second door is locked, so I have to go over the walkway. Itís very dark in here and the energy sword is the only light source I have. However, itís best saved for when I actually need it. I drop down the hole I went through before since the ramp door is broken.

Hello! Wasnít expecting to see you guys here! The Flood probably managed to reach this island simply by climbing the inside of the vent shaft. Thereís the last human terminal on a ledge in the hunter room, now what appears to be a brute feasting hall. Itís on a ledge covered with grunt blood.

I just guessed that too! I canít see his body, so maybe he did kill himself by diving down the vent shaft. Itís a better death than being infected, I tell you that much. This chapter may as well have been called ďRevenge of the Tier DropsĒ as the way down is blocked again, forcing me to drop down to where a Forerunner terminal used to be. Now thereís a covenant one here.

Ah shit. I guess weíre not getting that boss fight, huh? Wouldnít be the first time! Thereís not a lot of honour guards here, but there are a lot of elite carriers. Thereís a charging column in the vent shaft at the corner edge of the platform. Another giant abscess disables the Cartographer so I pop the pulsing pustule.

Suddenly, damaging explosions rock the building. It looks like John has already destroyed the autumn! The ring is shaking itself apart so we have to leave now! Rtus says to return to the landing zone and heís sending a phantom to pick us up. Cue escape music.

The final Forerunner terminal of the game is between the 2 box things at the top of the first ramp. Yes, all the explosions from Halo being destroyed can hurt you.

Guilty Spark has egg on his face now, as such a way is in progress right now. All the remaining ramps are open so I flee back the way I came before.

Cloaked suicide combat forms ambush me just as the ring begins tearing itself apart. Once I make it through, Thel hops aboard the phantom and all three Sangheli leave Halo for good.

Itís time. Captain Keyes is dead but his death is not in vain, we have the Index still, Johnson has escaped and itís time to return to the Pillar of Autumn. Itís now a ghost ship in more ways than one and itís now about to become a mini Trih Xeem, thanks to the self-destruct code provided by Jacobís implants. Everyone except the marines is out to play and what lies ahead is one of the best final levels yet, right up there with Meteorite Cavern, Nihilanth, Momentopolis and End of the World. Next time on Halo SPV3, Stage 10: The Maw. Now the Adventure evolves.

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