Let's Play Halo SPV3: SPV3.3 Comparison Episode 1
Posted By: Lion O CyborgDate: 10/17/21 4:18 p.m.

Bonus Episode: SPV3.3

Marathon Redux on fire going 120 miles per hour through a hospital zone chased by helicopters and ninjas. And the ninjas are all on fire too.

Part 1 - Arrival

Welcome to the final entry of the Halo SPV3 Tour of Duty. This will be in a couple of parts due to how long I know it will be. Now I cover the latest build, SPV3.3 which entirely replaces SPV3.2 which I used in the main Tour. This build adds graphics upgrades, QOL improvements, new dialog at certain points in both gameplay and cutscenes which appears to be using rare or cut Halo 1 dialog, the skull system from SPV3.1, some bug fixes from SPV3.2 (not all terminal related ones have been fixed however), new weapons and reimplementation of the credits screen. As you can see on the title screen, they also implemented Firefight from Halo 3 ODST & Halo Reach. You know the “Survival” mode in the XBLA version of Marathon 2? That’s Firefight.

As with SPV3.1 I will be playing on Legendary. This time however, I will be playing The Silent Cartographer Evolved and its Commander equivalent later. The original levels don’t seem much different to SPV3.2. The glitched terminal bug in The Silent Cartographer is still there, as is the AOTCR one. Some of the QOL improvements include customisation options:

You can change the models of the Master Chief and Cortana, turn on an Omochao style hints system at varying frequencies (I will be setting it to max and taking screenshots of the most interesting hints), switch the skyboxes of Halo and The Silent Cartographer Evolved and replace John’s head with that of “Craig the happy brute”. Why you’d want to do this latter one I don’t know but then again, I’m out of the loop on the Craig meme, this game being where I’d even heard of it.

Yes, you read that right. They really did included Windows 10 Cortana for a laugh. I will be using pink SPV3 model and John’s Enhanced Halo 1 model. Cortana’s SPV2 one is how she looked in the titular old version of this mod. Back then she was a brighter version of her default Halo 1 appearance.

I will be using this option for The Silent Cartographer Evolved as it looks better. However, the dawn option makes sense as it implies you come here soon after The Truth & Reconciliation and the SPV3 version of the original Silent Cartographer uses dawn lighting. You can also change the skybox in Halo from its Marathon Eternal Jjaro Shield World based skybox with the one from the beta of Halo 1, which has gorgeous clouds.

Something I hate about the customisation options is that they get reset every time you quit the game, meaning I have to go around changing them back whenever I just want to continue the game where I left off with those settings. It’s an irritating, unnecessary chore. I found this out the hard way.

Skulls return from SPV3.1 and there’s more of them. Unlike SPV3.1, a few of them return from the main games and a couple of them aren’t terrible per-se, just more suited to lower difficulties as with some skulls in the main games.

Four Eyes: Call of Duty mode. Your vision gets blurred as you take damage. It reminds me of Black Eye from the main games where the only way to recharge your shields is to melee attack.

Spite: In SPV3.1, this skull made firing your gun reset your shields recharge timer, which sucked hard. Now, it makes your shields take scratch damage every time you fire weapons. Fitting name.

Pin not-a: In the main games, the Catch skull makes enemies throw and drop more grenades. It’s one of the few “make the game harder” skulls that doesn’t suck as it makes fights on Heroic more intense and co-op Legendary fights more entertaining. This SPV3.3 skull does the opposite effect. The name is a reference to the Halo Anniversary & Halo 2 Anniversary skull, piñata, which is one of the good ones which I always turn on: melee attacking enemies makes them drop plasma grenades, which can cause massive chain reactions if they all get caught in an explosion during battle.

Speed Demon: It’s the Turbo cheat from Pathways into Darkness.

Keyes: Formally known in the oldest builds as Captain Took My Keyes, vehicles cannot be driven at all. Teleporters are provided in Two Betrayals and The Maw (and possibly The Commander too) as they are unwinnable without vehicles. The Maw’s timer during the warthog run is also disabled.

Awareness: Enemies always hear you and prioritise attacking you above all else. It’s identical to the “That’s Just…Wrong” skull from Halo 2, which is also known as “Whuppopotamus”.

Fog: This skull is from the main games. The motion tracker is disabled. Might work on Easy & Normal but otherwise don’t bother.

Meat Bag: If you are a devoted Marathon player, this skull is for you. Imagine Marathon if health & shields didn’t share the same bar, but you had no first aid/recharge stations, forcing you to rely on first aid kits and shield batteries. That’s what it does. However, since health and overshields are so rare in Halo 1, the latter even moreso, it may also make playing with it similar to Perfect Dark on Xbox 360 and Goldeneye 007 on N64 (whose own Perfect Dark XBLA style remaster recently leaked online). I think this could be a fun challenge, if a frustrating one on higher difficulties given how hard SPV3 is by default.

Unity: Marines, Covenant, Flood and Forerunner sentinels are all against you. It was named Angry in SPV3.1 but they changed it to avoid confusion with a Halo 2 skull that has a different effect. I compared the AI in this game with the skull active to the AI in the best Sonic game of all time and one of the best games on original Xbox, Shadow the Hedgehog. The difference is that unlike Shadow, there’s no level specific non-hostiles. If SPV3’s ones don’t take pot shots at another like they do in Shadow, I wouldn’t know. I think Unity is a better name not just to avoid confusion with the actual Angry skull but it fits the Shadow comparison better too as in that game, you unite with different factions in order to take different planks, Rubicon style long before the mod came out.

Blind: Another skull from the main games. This one disables the HUD. Marathon 1 Classic fans on the original Vulcan engine version (classic Mac OS) or Pathways into Darkness (all official versions) will recognise the effect being similar to the pathetic attempt those versions of their respective games had at fullscreen mode, where you had to choose between not being able to see shit without squinting or not having a HUD.

Jeb: Plasma weapons slowly lose their charge when held, making them almost useless unless there’s a charging column nearby you can keep running back to. Is the name meant to be a jab at someone? If they mean Mojang’s Jeb, I still don’t get the reference. Maybe it’s a joke about crappy battery life in the Nintendo Switch and most of the more recent Apple products?

F.O.R.D: More commonly spelled simply Ford, this skull makes vehicles behave the same way they do in Halo Reach & Halo 4 as well as how all Covenant vehicles in vanilla Halo 1 worked: their health does not partially regenerate. Actually, the description of this one is confusing. It says “all vehicles will be left found on road dead, as their health will not recharge”. Meaning what? That all of them will be found already destroyed so the player can’t use them, rendering the Keyes skull obsolete? Are vehicles airlifted by Pelicans or mission critical ones exempt from that rule if so?

Energizer: This is a mocking reference I do get. Like Energizer batteries and for some reason any battery my PSP takes now (it didn’t used to have this problem), your shields are a lot weaker but they recharge faster. It also sounds exactly like Halo 2’s shields on Heroic and Legendary.

ODST: Your movement speed is slowed to match that of Halo 3: ODST. Combined with the ODST skins for the Master Chief, the Fog & possibly also Four Eyes skulls, this means you can pretend to play Halo 1 as the Rookie from that game.

Reaper: You get infinite grenades but can only throw them when your shields are full, with doing so depleting them. Sounds like a nice experiment but I don’t see how good it would be to actually play.

This video showcases all the differences in this build of SPV3.3 better than I can without spoiling too much.

Now once more with feeling unto the breach.

Stage 1: The Pillar of Autumn – Ship Escape

The stars around Halo seem brighter and the either the field of view is different or Threshold has been moved in the skybox slightly. Cortana looks great in her pink SPV3 model. Her default one is based on her Halo 4 model which I feel is less appropriate as that one is meant to symbolise her aging and going rampant. Her pink one resembles how she looks in Halo 2, similar to how Anniversary uses her Halo 3 model.

In hanger bay 7, the marines have all been given facelifts as well, especially Sgt Johnson. Also, on lower difficulties in vanilla, a warthog drives past Johnson when he says “Damn right I am” and crashes offscreen as the marines file out of the warthog garage. On Legendary however, it passes by the first time the camera faces Johnson when he turns around. SPV3.3 fixes the timing issue. The cryotube glass also looks very blue and frosted like an actual cryostasis pod.

As I run to bridge, the marine before the first terminal tells me the Captain is waiting for me in a rather impatient tone. The text on the bulletin board is a lot clearer too. When I started the SPV3.2 Tour of Duty, this was before the coronavirus hit, with it first appearing around the time I wrote the 343 Guilty Spark entry and lockdown beginning before I started Keyes. The Story Forum versions from the Silent Cartographer started being posted around this latter time too.

The point is that the warning that Reach has been lost and civilians are encouraged to “stay in your home planets” and “stay safe” could now easily be taken as a lockdown reference even though this was unintentional when this version of the Easter egg was added in SPV3.2.

The computers on the bridge have a fair bit of detail now, Keyes is the closest he’s been to his Xbox crossed with Reach appearances and while Cortana still has her mouth closed when smiling in the cutscene, her SPV2 model does have it open like in vanilla & SPV3.1. (I didn’t screenshot that however)

When the Autumn is hit in the cutscene, the dialog is slightly different. “Fire control for the main cannon is offline.” Cortana now says in a calm tone despite looking worried. “Nothing of consequence hit us before the detonation. (?) It must have been one of their boarding parties. I’d guess an antimatter charge.”

“Hull breach!” One of the weapons techs shouts. “Hull breach on decks 11 and 12!” The rest of the cutscene continues as normal, though Cortana flirting with the Chief is different too: “Funny, I remember more empty space.”

Captain Keyes no longer gives us his pistol, instead saying he’ll see us on the surface of Halo. We instead get our pistol from a bob whom the first group of grunts shoot dead just outside the bridge. The hints system has some interesting stuff to say.

The EMP feature of plasma grenades affecting vehicles reminds me of the Power Drain equipment in Halo 3. Food nipples are machines grunts eat from, which is the source of a chuckle worthy line without context in Halo 3 which I’ve never heard in gameplay: “He was my nipple mate!” There’s new textures on some of the computer banks around the ship too.

The bit about facebook and Robocop is interesting as I saw on twitter recently off to the side that google researchers are worried about “creating God” when they witnessed a robot arm learn to pick up a ball and show it to everyone, with all other arm models being able to copy it. After another 2 days, they could pick up almost anything. The source I tracked down just now to back me up uses Terminator as the example however, mostly T2.


That bit about the VISR being able to detect if people are living or dead I think is meant to foreshadow it being able to detect if Flood combat forms will get back up again. I haven’t tested this however so I can’t be sure.

I wonder if that is a jab at Halo Anniversary and/or other remasters? It could also be a hint at how the slowdown effect is achieved in-engine. Past the first lifepod bay, I find a new area opened up with wounded and dead marines in it. There’s SMGs here if you need ammo for one.

In the second cryo bay before the cargo holds, Cortana tells me we just lost another life pod and it’s a good thing we missed getting on it. There’s really not much else to say about this level we don’t already know, though I still snap some good screenshots of the black hole grenades doing their thing in the warthog bay.

Captain Keyes makes one final intercom message to abandon ship as I take the elevator upstairs to the lifepods. I’m already bored of this game of tag. Time to get off the ship: They don’t have in-flight movies or food. Besides, I’d rather be running.

Stage 2: Halo – Green Hill

“I warned the Captain this wasn’t a good idea. I should never have left the Pillar of Autumn!” Cortana’s new line is the first clue of something different and the god ray coming into the lifepod is another. When I confirm I’m indeed awake, she says she didn’t want to be trapped here when the Covenant arrived. Speaking of which, it’s much easier for you to get spotted by the first phantom unless you never stop moving until you get near the skirmishers and elites by the big boulder. You still want to destroy one of the banshees however so the other one will leave you alone.

Those who plan to do a Halo Tour of Duty for Halo Reach better take heed, especially if it’s Legendary. I have a much easier time during the first escort mission section than I did before, thanks to careful use of a focus rifle, assault rifle with scope, needler and grenades. Like SPV3.2, Polaski is still very hard to hear when she tells me about the covenant transceiver. Maybe she sounds clearer when using headphones.

The hint for the Warthog says there’s now a needler turret one, which is brand new to this version. I remember it from youtube videos talking about SPV3.3 but I don’t know where you find it. If I’ve seen it already in my test run a couple of months ago I can’t remember.

I hate the vehicle health system in SPV3.3. The original one from SPV3.1 & SPV3.2 made it so vehicle health only decreased when your shields were down, similar to Halo 2 & Halo 3 but much easier than either. It wasn’t super easy but it made vehicle sections less of a chore on Legendary than they are in those two games. The only consolation is the SPV3.3 version feels at times much better balanced than the games the hint mentions. There seems to be slight proofreading in the first couple of terminals

In the tunnel by the light bridge, the ghost hint confirms that banshees in SPV3 cannot be hijacked. However, as demonstrated in the SPV3.1 comparison, they can if you do it exactly right. The terminal message is not only fixed, but the order is changed this time.

Green Hill– We’re Everywhere

In Dry Lagoon, it pays to be more cautious with the warthog due to the crappy new vehicle health system, especially in tight areas where there’s brute shots or grunts throwing plasma grenades. There’s a new sequence once you free all of the marines: “Quiet! They’re out there!” One of them hisses. “Who’s out there? I can’t detect any Covenant forces in the vicinity.” Cortana asks.

“I don’t know, they’re monsters or something. Invisible monsters” As soon as the marine says that, a team of stealth elites attacks. This is a pretty cool way to introduce them minus the two encounters with stealth elites on the Pillar of Autumn, as now we have a warthog to help us. I wonder if this was planned for the original game somewhere but was cut? Don’t let them kill all the marines. Try making the marines by the lagoon with the pipes the last you save so you have a chance to hear the elites splashing around before you see their telltale blockiness.

You don’t have to kill all the elites for Polaski to arrive, as some spawn way back at the entrance tunnel and are considered out of bounds for the objective criteria.

Not much is different in the Alpha base raid but I have to say it really was heroic difficulty that allowed me to survive those direct wraith hits in SPV3.2: just like SPV3.1, the wraiths destroy my warthog instantly on direct hits on Legendary difficulty. Except I notice in this playthrough unlike my test run it seems it’s random whether I survive or not. If I survive, the main difference is that I get knocked out of the warthog more often.

The terminal inside the motte is the same as it was in SPV3.2. Maybe they always intended to change the terminals around but in the older build I used for the Tour, they accidentally linked the wrong message in the light bridge room one?

As in SPV3.2, the AA Wraiths are flaming, underpowered pieces of shit deep fried in cum. They do practically no damage against the very thing they’re designed to destroy unless you aim for a very specific and hard to see part of the phantoms and the whole reason people wanted to drive the AA wraiths in the first place was because of their quad fuel rod cannons and how powerful they are against the player.

Shit AA Wraiths

Canon AA Wraiths

More canon AA Wraiths

However, the Good AA Wraiths are back in SPV3.3, only in different locations and they’re called Fuel Rod Wraiths now, which is confusing and dumb because that’s not how it is in the main games. So for the sake of simplicity, the fuel rod ones we’ll call Anti Air Wraiths and the crappy shade turret versions we’ll call Anti-Personal Wraiths because that’s what they work better as.

The pond has updated water again. In SPV3.1, it looked terrible, like someone used a photo of the sky with a fog filter on it.

In SPV3.2, the water was upgraded to vanilla Halo 1 standards i.e. it looked like an improved version of the water from Sonic Adventure on Dreamcast. It looks most refreshing and made me thirsty.

Now, it looks like the water in Halo 2 i.e. an upgraded version of the water in Shadow the Hedgehog and either Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, Sonic 2006 or the Tomb Raider 1 10th Anniversary remake.

Green Hill– Defend THIS!

In Wild Canyon Plateau, not much is changed though I decide this time to do the lifepods in a different order, this time ending with the cliff edge. In the river head beacon complex, the marine with the sniper rifle is still alive but wounded. He says to take his rifle before dying and another marine calls for a medic.

By the cliff edge, I take the time to showcase the alternate skybox in more detail. As much as I love the original Halo 1 skybox for this level, in the beta it used to have more clearly defined clouds against the deep blue and black of space, like the world forgot that nighttime isn’t bright and sunny.

By default, SPV3 uses a skybox that seems to have been inspired by the Kingdom Valley skybox in Marathon Eternal’s Jjaro Shield World and the dream levels that also take place there.

Marathon Eternal X Kingdom Valley

Halo CE SPV3 Kingdom Valley

Halo 1 sea vista

Halo CE SPV3.3 sea vista


Ever heard of Tanabata? If you’re a Japanese Marathon and/or Halo fan or at least live in the country like I’d like to sometime, you should have: it’s celebrated on Bungie day. So now I have two holidays in July to look forward to. This beta skybox for Halo 1 looks like it would be the perfect background for a Tanabata celebration with those stars and the way Basis is juxtaposed against the ring arch and the clouds to the left.

I wonder if those hills are where the Pillar of Autumn was supposed to have crashed. The vanilla skybox has them too and that trench in the inlet could be the one the Autumn dug when it impacted.

In Halo Anniversary, the hills are now a desert, which lends plausibility to this theory. In SPV3’s default Marathon Eternal themed skybox, this view is of the mountain that the Truth & Reconciliation takes place on, which I likened to the mountain fortress in The Raccoons and The Lost Star, along with quite a lot of stuff as that movie makes me think of Halo despite the lighter tone.


The terminals have been fixed so the proper end one from SPV3.1 shows here.

Stage 3: The Truth & Reconciliation – Prison Lane

The lighting in the main area is certainly better but the skybox is still fucking terrible. You can see the mountains now, but again, only if you have the VISR on because it’s too damn dark to see their silhouettes without it. Would it have killed them to reuse the Keyes skybox in SPV3.1 or at least turn up the skybox lighting so we can actually see it?

The rest of the first section is pretty much the same aside from hints. The silenced SMG is pretty handy against unshielded enemies, especially when using the scope on skirmishers.

Prison Lane – No Time to Die

The graphics upgrades in SPV3.3 really make the corridors shine. It feels like a Christmas party an underwater/underground aquarium or even a full 3D Marathon.

What the hint doesn’t say is that this gun is based on the portable plasma turret unrelated to the shades from Halo 2 & Halo 3. Specifically the latter version as it can be ripped from its stand and carried with you like in the two OG Xbox Far Cry games. Like this game, you often see brute chieftains wielding it on the occasions they aren’t using gravity hammers though SPV3’s ones seem easier to kill. Like almost all brutes in Halo 3, brute Chieftains always wear power armour but as discussed in the main tour; once brute shields are down, they stay down.

I learn in the muster bay that active camo not working really was just an SPV3.1 thing: I remember it being fixed in SPV3.2 when I think about the Silent Cartographer writeup and it’s definitely fixed in SPV3.3.

hey actually mean the mauler, which is a brute shotgun in Halo 3 you can duel wield as a reference to Marathon 2 except unlike Halo 2 the mauler is almost useless. (almost.) There is no “mangler” weapon in Halo at all as far as I know. The other influence is the spike rifle/spiker based on its appearance, ammo used and the brute shot esque knife blade underneath the gun. In both older versions, the piercer fired a ricocheting burst of superheated spikes with a slight spread that could pierce shields. Now, it seems to do less damage to shields albeit not much, has a smaller clip size and is now single shot, but at the trade of being stupidly overpowered against unshielded targets. This gun is super useful on Assault on the Control Room if you don’t have a battle rifle or carbine handy. Just back it up with plasma weapons and get good at no scope kills.

One of my plasma grenades sets off its EMP effect on one of the parked wraiths in the muster bay, making it look like it has shields.

Really, I can’t stress enough how Christmassy and cosy the lighting looks in this level now and that isn’t a backhanded compliment nor a straight up insult: it really does look so good.

Right before the shuttle bay I end up glitching out a brute with power armour, causing him to freeze in place and become non-solid. I’ve seen this bug before in games like Tomb Raider 2, just a few years ago.

Oooooh! I’m touching your intestines!

The jackals feasting on dead marines in the first brig are still there and Captain Keyes grabs his shredder as in SPV3.2.

Hehe, how does it feel to see John Carver 117 in all his splendour?

“Captain,” Cortana says. “You haven’t flown a small craft since the academy. “Do I look like a cadet?” He retorts. “Let’s see…pitch and yaw controls should be…” he continues as Cortana warns him about the hunters. “Ah! Here we go. OK, well hold onto your butts, people!” The rest of the cutscene is as normal. I have to say, I dig the new dialog. It makes the fan remake stand out to Halo Anniversary a bit more.

Part 2 coming immediately.

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