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Let's Play Halo SPV3 Stage 10B LAST EPISODE
Posted By: Lion O CyborgDate: 6/8/20 8:39 a.m.

Stage 10: The Maw (Continued from 10A)

Act 4: Aye Mak Sicur – Where Giants Have Fallen

I need an intermission before the endgame to explain a couple of things.

First, there’s actually another reason I first played SPV3.1 on Legendary that I didn’t tell you about until it would be pertinent: I first played it on Legendary because I was used to Halo 1 on Legendary and thought I could handle it, sure. But the second reason is when I saw otherwise, I persevered, used everything I could and quicksaved and quickloaded with the speed of a pneumatic drill because I wanted to see the Legendary ending and felt it would make it all worth it. All Halo games except Halo 2 & Halo Reach have special extra endings that can only be seen when you beat the game on Legendary. Halo 1’s and Halo 3’s are the most famous as the first one is funny and the second is a teaser for Halo 4. Since Bungie still had the franchise at this point, maybe for Halo 3′s one they just planned to make a cheeky deniable reference to Marathon like they did constantly in their games, especially the original trilogy. You may see what I mean if you watch it, but that’s better covered in Halo 3, not here.

So after the massive chore that almost every level -especially the longest ones- gave me and my surpassing the impossible odds and beating the game on Legendary (which I could never do in Halo 2), I then found out that the Legendary ending was removed entirely from SPV3 and doesn’t even appear when you beat it on Noble.

I was not a happy bunny when I found that out the hard way: it meant that my entire effort was completely pointless and I may as well have started on Heroic instead. SPV3.2 seems a little too easy in some places however so maybe that will be better on Legendary, but if the gulf really is that wide and I didn’t notice…I don’t know what to add to that. So for the purposes of the Tour of Duty Gaiden, I’m going to provide screenshots and a video link of the Legendary ending when I get there. Speaking of the Legendary ending for Halo 1, the Elite that appears in it is an Ultra in the original game. However in Halo 2, Johnson greets the Arbiter at the end of Quarantine Zone as if they have met before, by saying “how ya doin’?”, implying that he was the elite in that ending despite it being the wrong rank. 343 Industries ran with it and changed the Ultra to a Zealot Elite in the Anniversary version of the Legendary ending to tie in with that fact, even though this ending is meant to just be a fun Easter egg and Johnson does make it out.

Second, not to go on yet another tangent but if there’s one thing I despised about Marathon it’s the lack of boss fights. Every gamer knows that at the end of a particular level, major location, zone or episode, what-have-you, there’s always supposed to be a big guy who you fight, especially if as a final exam of everything the game teaches you up to that point.

As we saw in the Pathways into Darkness Tour of Duty, it had a couple of boss fights and only the first one was a real one: the second couldn’t be killed and the last one got his goons to fight for him and died in 1 hit. Marathon chickens out of the boss fight it set up with the cyborg Controller Pfhor by making it completely docile and take a single rocket, the other 2 games “boss fights” were just the same, boring copy-pasted juggernaut fight, which is especially aggravating in Aye Mak Sicur. Even Doom 1+2 had boss fights in them and Wolfenstein before that. Granted, Doom 1+2’s final bosses were shit, respectively a cyborg giant spider and a glorified Satanic church wall but at least it was something.

Imagine if Duke Nukem 3D never got any games after it (YMMV but I mean the good ones) and its true final level, The Queen ended if after hitting both switches and running over the acid canal, you just saw the titular Alien Queen holding a little white flag and a sign saying your maze wandering skills are too great for her, before cutting to Duke on his deathbed at a grand old age with no explanation of any events that led to that point. You’d be furious and rightly so! Oh, and this also assumes the previous episodes ended a similar way and the only other finale was a three act special stage that also had no true final boss and was just an Expert Mode version of previous levels Shadow the Hedgehog style, except one that openly mocked the player in terminals, trolled them in gameplay and then once they beat it all, told them in a roundabout way that it was all just training for the multiplayer deathmatch mode that they never play.

Not only are mods generally unaffected by that as they can add boss fights if they choose to such as Redux making the Pfhor Controller cyborg a proper boss fight and therefore no longer a big anti-climax like the original was, but Halo understands that and tries to make up for Bungie’s mistakes in the boss department in Marathon: while Halo 1 has no boss fights and Spark cannot be killed anyway, they give you a timed escape sequence in a warthog after destroying the fusion reactors as your ultimate climax. Honestly, it really makes up for it and is a worthy alternative for that specific game.

Halo 2 is when Bungie finally relented and did boss fights properly at the end of each zone, including a real final boss and that game is better for it. It was going to have the climactic warthog run too in the level High Charity but it was cut from the final game. However it can be restored with a mod. Halo 3 is still stingy on boss fights, but it does have a final boss (if one that’s a bit too easy) and a timed ‘Hog run after that which is also great. Halo 3 ODST’s one isn’t timed but is just as climactic and Reach has the infamous epilogue level Lone Wolf.

Act 5: Warning: Hitchhikers May Be Escaping Convicts – The Last Way

At the top of the elevator as the chapter screen comes up, I enter another warthog garage and run to the one closest to me on the right. There’s a first aid kit mounted on the bay divider next to it. Cortana speaks to me as I enter. “Analysing. We have 6 minutes/5 minutes* before the fusion drives detonate. We need to evac now!” *If you are playing on Legendary, you only get 5 minutes to escape. If you are playing Anniversary and make it to the end with at least 1 minute left of 5, you get an achievement.

“Activating Final Countdown Timer. When it reaches 0 the engines will detonate. The explosion will generate a temperature of almost 100 000 000 degrees. Don’t be here when it blows!” Remember when I said that tokamak fusion reactor plasma was a hundred million degrees kelvin? I was very surprised to find that out when I looked them up last year as I remember almost every line from this game clear as day. I guess Bungie did do their research.

The 6 minute time limit appears on the lower right of the screen in the original and Anniversary but in the fan remake, it’s in the bottom centre. Steering quickly out of the warthog bay, I swerve to avoid a burning warthog and run over some flugs on the tall ramp as the countdown timer starts. The spinal tunnel is split into 2 halves separated by our exit point, with the first being split further into 4 big open areas we’ll call “highway rooms” full of curved underpass tunnels and obstacles. I drive through the first of those underpasses but find the next one closed. Instead, I drive to the left of it and use the other end as a ramp to reach the tops of the pillars in the middle of the road and bypass having to weave between them.

“You take the high road and I’ll take the low road! *laughter*” One of the 2 final Hey Arnold the movie references too. Yes, I couldn’t find the actual clips for both of those either. I dive expertly off the end into the next underpass and use it as a ramp to soar over the last one.

The connecting service tunnel to the next highway room sinks down then up again in a U shape. You need the warthog to make it out not just for the timer but because the slopes in the U shaped service tunnels are too steep to climb, so if you’re playing co-op and player 1 drives off without you, or a glitch makes you teleport out of the hog while the driver speeds off when you hit a loading zone, which is more likely to happen if you take separate warthogs, you’re boned. (the teleport feature is used in co-op so other players aren’t left behind when another player crosses a map load)

The second highway room has a much more difficult layout than the first due to the low walls and smaller underpasses. Thankfully, there’s 2 overpass catwalks along the sides above the depression of the main highway you can use to skip all of it, as going through the gauntlet causes you to lose time.

The second service tunnel winds back and forth and has pillars in the middle of it, all of which have speedbumps on one side to slow you down. You need to weave back and forth between them on the sides with no speedbumps like you’re playing Carve Jet Ski Racing on classic Xbox. When you see a side passage, TAKE IT; they’re shortcuts.

The gungoose quadbike in the shortcut is a reference to Halo 3, which had a semi hidden mongoose quadbike at the start of its final warthog run you could take instead for extra challenge. The third highway room is more of the same as the second. This time the service tunnel is a U shaped one going up. The last highway room is similarly laid out to the first, but you can’t make the jump to the pillar tops if you try and are forced to weave between them.

A phantom flies overhead as I reach the last underpass to avoid a shade and Cortana radios for evac. “Cortana to Echo 419, request extraction now, on the double!” Captain Rawley confirms it as I exit the highway room, fly off a ramp in a strange vehicle lift shaped room and race out onto a causeway. “Wait! Stop!” Cortana insists. “This is where Foehammer is coming to pick us up. Hold position here.”

I brake and screech to a halt in the middle of the junction between the two sections of the ship. Carol Rawley comes careening into the trench with her engines on fire and pursued by a pair of banshees. Cortana tries to warn her but she gets shot and starts going down, with new lines I’m too late to transcribe. I can imagine Foehammer at the controls fighting to save her ship, eyeing the causeway ahead.

“Pull up! Pull up!” I shout, hoping she can pancake in, but it’s too late. Echo 419 loses all altitude, passes under the causeway and keeps going. I hear her still over the radio. “I’M HIT!” Echo 419 screams. “MAYDAY! MAYDAY! AIRFOIL STRUCTURES ARE SHOT TO HELL! I CAN’T HOLD HER! LIEUTENANT HOLD ON! AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!” she’s cut off and unlike the original where she turns to the right and keeps on going until she hits the desert, she now crashes her flaming pelican into the sea.

Cortana yells “Echo 419!” and receiving no response, says quietly. “She’s gone.” There’s a very short pause as she taps into what remains of the ship’s systems. “Calculating alternate escape rout: the ship’s inventory shows 1 Longsword Fighter is still docked in Launch Bay 7. If we move now we can make it!”

The final countdown timer starts again as soon as she starts saying that so don’t waste any time. I get back in the warthog and put the pedal to the metal, racing through the lower door of a similarly shaped room to the one into the junction. The second half of the spinal tunnel is nothing but one large service tunnel. More pillars line the centre of this straight bit, forcing me to drive through sunken gratings in the sides as speedbumps, like those scenes where someone drives or runs a vehicle over pebbles or down a long flight of stairs and their voice makes a funny warbling sound as they yell.

I notice as I drive that Cyril seems to have hijacked a radio in his attempt to get away, as he broadcasts to the Covenant remaining in the ship. “All troops evacuate immediately! The human ship’s engines are critical! Use emergency escape ships! Do not use tunnel! Repeat, DO NOT USE TUNNEL!”

Careening down another ramp and taking another shortcut in the weaving section, there’s an easter egg off to the right, but you likely won’t be able to see it and live.

As I continue, I become aware of the last major obstacle: a titanic brown room with a massive, deep pit below a giant cargo hook or something, filled with grey fog that I mistook as opaque and cartoonish the first time I watched Wren and dad play this bit (neither made it that night). It’s impossible to reach the cargo hook and the platform is blocked with burning canister things anyway.

It gave them hell and made me think this was impossible until I found the way to do it a few days or so later: they kept missing the suspended underpass far below and they also failed the 2nd jump you had to do after that.

If it isn’t a cargo hook, maybe it’s meant to be a vehicle skybridge and it’s been blown up; a last minute parting gift from Cyril in one final attempt to kill us.

“Uh oh. We can’t make it, Cortana!” I tell her. “Chief, up ahead there’s a gap in the trench. (I misheard this as “bridge” as explosions drown her out) At top speed we should be able to clear it!” Clear it?! Cortana that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard! Let’s do it!

Explosions rock the tiny service tunnel identical to the shortcuts straight ahead and fling me from the warthog in Launch Bay/Hanger Bay 7. Welcome back to the place we met Sgt Johnson during the cool military scene at the very start of the game! Only now all the vehicles that were here except the Longsword on the landing pad ahead are gone and there’s little to no time to explore. “That’s the ship!” Cortana almost screams. “MOVE! WE NEED TO GET ABOARD NOW!”

I can practically hear Melissa and the others calling me from the ship, even though I can’t really see them. Maybe it’s the duotine. I sprint at full speed down the long straightaway, shooting the Flood and elites on my way past as a mere formality. Damn no-one is going to stop me getting on that ship! I charge up the ramp and thunder aboard just as a mob of Flood arrives behind me. “We’re cutting it close!” Cortana says as the ramp rises. Another explosion shakes the longsword in sympathy as I run for the cockpit, forcing me to stagger and grab the wall for support as I make my way forward. Precious seconds are being consumed as I drop into the pilot seat, bring the engines online and take the controls. Here we go.

I raise the ship off Launch Bay 7’s floor, turn it 180 degrees to face out the open hanger doors, and gun it out of the ship.

“Come here you motherfuc…I’m gonna…grr! Grr! Ah?” https://youtu.be/mwQAHYyPmvI?t=2511

https://youtu.be/bw9pJXv3L78?t=354

Just as I fly clear of the ring, the longsword fighter console lights up with a warning: ENGINE TEMP CRITICAL. Cortana says “Shut them down, we’ll need them later.” I reach up to flick some switches and turn off the engines leaving me drifting. More flames and molten metal and lava fly past the window from behind me as more of Halo rips itself apart. “Fancy a look?” Cortana asks. I get up out of my seat and watch the ring get destroyed. One 500 kilometre long piece of Halo tumbles end over end through space and slices through the last intact curve, producing a cascade of eerie, silent explosions. I thought this was a bug or at least a problem and was glad to hear actual sounds when this scene was remade in Halo 2 and Anniversary but no, space is actually like that so the original is actually more realistic and I think it’s better for it, given that I’m not a kid anymore and know how space works. As much as anyone anyway.

Did anyone else make it?”

“Scanning,” Cortana replies. She pauses and I can see scan data scroll across the main terminal. A moment later, she speaks again, her voice unusually quiet. “Just dust and echoes. We’re all that’s left.”

“We did what we had to do. For Earth. An entire Covenant armada obliterated and the Flood! We had no choice.” I sit back down in the pilot’s seat and stare out the viewport at what looks like the Milky Way. “Halo.” Cortana says. “It’s finished.” “No.” I say, taking off my helmet. “I think we’re just getting started.”

And with that I end off. SPV3’s ending falls flat as there’s no credits screen, same with the MCC version of Anniversary. The vanilla PC version has a shit credits screen on the main menu which the original Xbox 360 version of Anniversary copies. However, I have an optional mutator for Halo 1 Refined that restores the superior original Xbox credits that I will provide below. This is Lion O Cyborg signing off.

For 17 years the renegade covenant flagship Ascendant Justice jumped between the closely packed stars of the galactic core, charting and discarding nearly a thousand systems before finally falling into a slow orbit around a second Halo ring by a blue gas giant of a dim star 97 light years from the gravitational centre of the milky way.

Probes were constructed and launched, with engines and instruments whose sophistication would have astounded both the Covenant and Forerunners from whom the technology had been stolen, and the human scientist whose AI’s mad genius had directed their fabrication. The outlines of continents were mapped, and along them the radioactive ruins of ancient cities were discovered, perched around precarious cliffs over seas and around lakes.

The tireless, nearly immortal Huragok on the flagship were the genetically engineered descendants of the dead ring below; the first in a hundred thousand years to return to their ancestral home. They came to seach through the devastation of the ancient war which led to the defeat of the Flood, long before they were enslaved by the covenant, to find a weapon or some piece of knowledge with which they could fight back against their oppressors.

All over the ship, dancing through the wreckage of the covenant computer core,

CORTANA WAS LAUGHING

What, no mention of Hamish Sinclair this time? Would have been nice to see his name in Halo’s credits. Guess there’s always MTA and Marathon 4…

Epilogue: All Roads Lead to Earth

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