|Let's Plat Halo SPV3: Stage 8A
|Posted By: Lion O Cyborg
|Date: 3/23/20 4:08 p.m.
Stage 8: Two Betrayals
Reactivate the weapon at the heart of Halo…and learn the truth
Act 1: Cannon’s Core – You’re wormfood, dude
Last time on the Halo SPV3 Tour of Duty, we fought our way through the Library to recover the Index, required to light the ring and stop the Flood. 343 Guilty Spark has teleported us to the Control Centre to do just that. As we appear on the Marathon glyph shaped catwalk, Spark seems to finish a conversation about the Flood we don’t get to hear. “…which means that any organism with sufficient mass and cognitive capability is a potential factor.” I see the main terminal and the map of Halo and its system in the middle. Cortana is still here.
“Is, something wrong?” The Monitor asks us. “No. Erm, nothing.” I reply. Walking over to the terminal, an endless light show plays over its surface as various aspects of the ringworld’s extremely complicated electronic and mechanical machinery feeds a constant stream of data to the display, all of which shows “onscreen” if one could call the holographic keyboard a screen, as a mosaic of constantly morphing glyphs and symbols.
Here, if one can read Forerunner, are the equivalents of the ringworld’s pulse, breathing and brain waves. It reminds me of the AI “Brain” of Exxilon City in my first and favourite Doctor Who serial. Reports that provide information on the rate of spin, atmosphere, weather, the highly complex biosphere, the machinery that keeps it all running, plus the activities of the Flood specimens. It’s awesome to look at and even more awesome to consider.
Guilty Spark says that his usefulness has come to an end, as protocol does not allow Monitor ancillas to “reunify the Index with the Core.” That final step is reserved for me. He hands me the Index just offscreen. With this, my ringworld conquest will be complete. Now! It’s time for the curtain call of my ideal galaxy, one free of the Flood!
There’s no time for maniacal laughter however as an alarm flares up, sparks fly everywhere and the main particle beam cannon shuts down before the neutrino beam actually appears.
The Monitor says that wasn’t supposed to happen. “Oh really?” says a familiar voice. Cortana appears out of the main terminal and she is pissed. There’s a white flash that she apparently causes and then Spark falls on his can for no reason. “I’ve spent the last 12 hours cooped up in here watching you toady about, helping that thing get set to slit our throats.” “Hold on now,” I tell her. “He’s a friend.” Cortana brings a hand up to her mouth in mock surprise.
“Oh, I didn’t realise! He’s your pal, is he? Your chum? Do you have any idea what that bastard almost made you do?!” And lo, as a 7 year old my first instance of the word bastard is heard, later used for the first time when recreating this scene in Halo child’s role play only this time aided by Kim Possible (in the fantasy, I don’t have a cybernetic junction in order to access the real thing yet).
“Yes,” I respond calmly. “Activate Halo’s defences and destroy the Flood. Which is why we brought the Index to the Control Centre.” “You mean this?” Cortana asks, plucking the Index out of its slot. I always wondered how she’s able to do that, despite being a soft light hologram. Maybe the Index is just data stored as hard light and can therefore be manipulated on the digital level by AIs? If so, does that make it flash memory?
The Monitor picks himself up from the floor and looks up at Cortana. He is furious. “A construct? In the Core? That is absolutely unacceptable!” Spark’s makers are long obsolete so their protocols mean jack shit now. Cortana tells him so with an angry “Sod off!” Spark threatens to purge her for her behaviour but she waves her hand and absorbs the Index into her body, preventing it from being used unless she allows it. “How…how, how dare you!” the Monitor stammers, shocked. “I’ll…” (undecipherable gibberish sounds)
“Do what?” Cortana sneers mockingly, holding up her right hand where the Index was to illustrate her point. “I have the Index, you can just float and sputter!” I try to explain the situation to Cortana, based on what Spark was implying before. “The Flood is spreading. If we activate Halo’s defences, we can wipe them out.”
She looks down on me with an expression of pity. “You have no idea how this ring works do you? Why the Forerunners built it?” she says, holding up her hands like a god statue when she mentions the forerunners. Cortana leans forward, her face grim. “Halo doesn’t kill Flood, it kills their food. Humans, covenant, whatever. We’re all equally edible. The only way to stop the Flood is to starve them to death. And that’s exactly what Halo is designed to do: wipe the galaxy clean of all sentient life!” We already know this from the original game, the primer and maybe earlier terminals but yes; if you get the Index and fully awaken this ultimate weapon, you will obtain the power to not just pierce stars, but also kill all sentient life on any planets along the way. And then you’ll be able to do it at will. Destroy…everything.
“You don’t believe me?” Cortana finishes. “Ask him!” The ramifications of what Cortana has just said hits home and I turn to face Guilty Spark. “Is it true?” “More or less.” He answers simply. “Technically, this installation’s pulse has a maximum effective radius of 25000 light years. But once the others follow suit, this galaxy will be quite devoid of life. Or at least any life with sufficient biomass to sustain the Flood. But you already knew that.” The little machine sounds genuinely puzzled. “I mean, how couldn’t you?”
Cortana glowers at me and then 343 Guilty Spark. “Left out that little detail, did he?” “We have followed outbreak containment procedure to the letter!” the Monitor says defensively. “You were with me each step of the way as we managed this crisis.” “Chief,” Cortana interrupts. “I’m picking up movement.” “Why would you hesitate to do what you’ve already done?” Spark demands. “We need to go! Right now!” Cortana insists as a flock of sentinels flies up behind the Monitor, their chassis’ and 343 Guilty Spark’s spherical carapace looking rusty in the new, eerie red light of the control room.
“Last time you asked me: If it were my choice, would I do it?” And now is finally the time to reveal a very important detail I left out of Circle 1 of the Primer. Back in Halo Silentium, the forerunner Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting also known as the Iso-Didact made Monitor Chakas (made from an ancient, non-Jjaro human) guardian of this ring and gave him his current name of 343 Guilty Spark.
His memory has been suppressed of who he once was due to compartmentalisation, but his rampancy is letting certain details of it bleed through though, not always accurately. The last thing we know Bornstellar ever said to Guilty Spark is “Tell me, Chakas, if this was your choice, after all we have seen and survived…would you fire the rings?” Spark, Chakas, did not respond. The Iso-Didact didn’t know that he expected a response. It was a question asked by way of farewell.
His rampancy seems to be making his memories run together, as he not only does recognise me as human, but the reason he thinks I’m Forerunner is that he thinks I’m the Iso-Didact, or at least a human reincarnation of him (possibly via a geas by the Librarian before her death or another Lifeworker?).
And now, 100,000 years later, he does have a response: “Having had considerable time to ponder your query, my answer has not changed. There is no choice. We must activate the ring.”
“Get. Us. Out. Of here!” Cortana hisses effectively into my ear. By this time, I’ve already backed up to the terminal, removed Cortana from the Core and reinserted her chip into my head. I now hold Spark at gunpoint, ready to fire if he tries anything.
“If you’re unwilling to help-I will simply find another.” The Monitor says conversationally. “Still, I must have the Index. Give your construct to me, or I will be forced to take her from you.”
My finger is just barely pulling the trigger when I give him my own response. “That’s not going to happen.”
“So be it.” He says wearily. “Save his head, dispose of the rest.” And with that, he teleports out and the sentinels attack.
Cortana yells “Look out” just as red sentinel beams lash over my shields. Unlike vanilla, there’s a lot of dead covenant and Flood bodies here to give you more weapons. The plasma pistol is great for sentinels: 1 charged shot takes them down. The brute plasma pistol is the same, but it might not always work if they are only hit by the fire from the splash damage. Use the small glass screens on the centre catwalk for cover. If the machines die on the straight part instead of falling into the beam pit, snag their sentinel beams once you run low on ammo. I start with my assault rifle and a jackal riot shield. It’s less useful than it should be because it takes up a weapon slot, but it protects you well against the beams.
I use a brute plasma pistol on the floor to kill the sentinels but unlike Halo 1, I’m not out of the woods yet.
It’s useless to attack an enforcer from the front. Especially when its shields are up. Stay in the shadows, or at least behind the glass screens. Wait till it loses interest. Then strike the beast when its back is turned. You don’t have to be that cautious most of the time so long as you’re good at dodging and there’s cover when you need it. Plasma grenades work well on sentinel enforcers and there’s a rocket launcher and brute shot here for that too, since I don’t have any plasma grenades.
It was mentioned by someone in the Rampancy.net Halo 2 Anniversary stream that enforcers are basically Halo versions of the Juggernaut tanks in Marathon, what with their needlers being the machine guns or plasma flamethrowers and mortars/incineration cannons being warpedos. I never thought about that until they brought it up. I knew Halo 2 first and it’s one of my favourite Halo games, yet I never made the connection myself when I played Marathon for the first time. Halo 2 does have its own Juggernaut, but it’s a Flood Pure form intended as a miniboss and it’s unused.
The fight is a lot more difficult than the original thanks to the enforcers. They hit hard and can set you on fire.
Act 1b: The Gun Pointed At the Head of the Universe – Deep in the Grotto
“We can’t let the Monitor activate Halo! We have to stop him! We have to destroy Halo!” Cortana says no sooner than the actual Act 1 chapter screen pops up when the last enforcer falls into the beam pit. “According to my analysis of the available data, I believe the best course of action is somewhat, risky.” Naturally, I think to myself. “An explosion of sufficient size will help destabilise the ring, and will cut through a number of primary systems. We need to trigger a detonation on a large scale however. A starship’s fusion reactors going critical will do the job.” She pauses for a second or 2 before continuing. She tells me she’ll search what’s left of the Covenant battlenet and try to find the Pillar of Autumn’s crash site. If the fusion reactors in the engine room are still working, they will be our bomb.
It’s ridicules as not only are the engines not fission, but even fission reactors don’t work that way to begin with. A “critical” fission or fusion reactor simply means “turned on” as it’s short for critical mass, referring to the minimum amount of fissile material required for a fission reaction. I don’t know if that also applies to the mini stars you get in fusion reactors like the deuterium based tokamaks in the Autumn. However, Cortana’s idea actually does make sense when I think about it, but I’ll save that for when we reach The Maw.
For now, I get a battle rifle, replace my now empty RPG with another sentinel beam and check out something near one of the screens directly opposite the main terminal.
Do those other plans involve shield worlds, composers or something we don’t know about that will be seen in Halo Infinite? On top of that, the Halo Array works by firing a massive beam of high frequency neutrinos from the Control Centre’s giant, deep pit, amplifying it with the phase pulse generators we will soon see, and using some kind of slipspace catalyst in the hub of the ring to propel the neutrino pulse across the galaxy. The radiation is powerful enough to make anything with a central nervous system -or at least any with a nervous system big enough for the Flood to infect- explode and turn to sand. Only really basic lifeforms will remain, such as plants, microbes of all forms and animals with just the right anatomy to be immune to both the Flood and the radiation.
Opening the giant door I originally entered this place through, I stumble into a Covenant Collection Squad attempting to take back the Control Room and fighting against sentinels. The Covenant usually win so my battle rifle will come in very handy here. The squad consists of elites, grunts and jackals.
There’s also now a couple of brutes among them and the elites are honour guards. That’s where the sentinel beam comes in.
Outside, Cortana tells me that she hasn’t found the crash site yet but we need to buy some time, in case the Monitor or his sentinels find a way to activate Halo’s final weapon without the Index. Well, I don’t see any of the 7 Chaos Emeralds on this ring so we should be safe, but I listen to her anyway: She tells us about Halo’s primary firing mechanisms that we saw in the walls of the canyons and brings up the 3 pulse generators I mentioned above. “The power levels are enormous.” She says. “I can’t even begin to calculate the pulse’s range.” She doesn’t have to: Spark already told us what the range is in the Control Room and the Halo CEA terminal. It is 25,000 lightyears.
“So, if we damage or destroy those generators, the Monitor will need to repair them before Halo can be used. That should buy us some time.” She continues, before marking the location of the closest pulse generator with a Nav point. Nav points are red in the original game but here they are blue just like in Halo 2.
I don’t know if Halo was the first FPS or video game in general to have Nav Points/Objective markers what have you, but it’s certainly the first one I played to have them. The reason is because Halo’s maps are comparable to Unreal 1 in size and scale, including a bit of Half Life style loading zones within the same level on top of that. While maze-like (but not too mazy) or open level design is good, it becomes boring if you become lost and get sick of trying to find the way ahead after hours of wandering the same areas over and over again like a glorified pixel hunt.
Some Marathon maps like Kill Your Television, Aye Mak Sicur and a lot of Rubicon X’s maps are bad for that. Unlike KYT, I haven’t memorised Aye Mak Sicur fully and I’ve memorised none of Rubicon X’s maps. So, Bungie added those Nav points in certain areas only in Halo to avoid those kinds of situations, especially if it’s a location high up like every pulse generator location here.
I’ve gone up the ramps while Cortana was speaking to where the last Assault on the Control Room forerunner terminal used to be, expecting to find a dead marine with a shotgun, pistol ammo, medipack and sniper rifle, but the cache is gone in SPV3.
See that gunship on the ice bridge? That’s the Sparrowhawk from Halo Wars; a streamlined version of the Hornet gunship from Halo 3 and another contender for best vehicle in SPV3 besides the Spectre, Rocket Hog, SPV3.1 Anti Air Wraith and Banshees. I’ll take it once we deal with the pulse generator. Getting down the Silver Pyramid again is easy. I just take the Hey Arnold: The Movie route and slide down the side, jumping over the railings when I reach each walkway and crouching at the end of the slide to negate any fall damage.
Admittedly that sounds more like the opening sequence of Jackie Chan Adventures than it does Hey Arnold. There’s a terminal down here by a rocket launcher.
Actually I drove a wraith. I guess the developers expected you to keep the grizzly.
No sooner have I reached this level than Cortana tells me in vanilla to commandeer “one of those banshees” near the buttress even though there’s only one outside of co-op. In SPV3, she saves that for when I descend the hills. One of Halo 2’s most kickass songs from the level Quarantine Zone called Reclaimer (Volume 2 of the soundtrack only) starts as soon as Cortana starts speaking and Wraiths open fire on me. This song kicks ass. It feels like we’re going to war in a dark and snowy grotto with everything we’ve got, which is exactly where this song plays both here and that game too.
SPV3 version AKA Unyielding:
The rocket launcher is very useful for the wraiths, but they have an annoying tendency to strafe to the side and dodge your shots on higher difficulties such as this. An enforcer shows up and destroys the other wraith, but it gets destroyed itself by elites soon after. Another one I have to destroy myself after it kills the elites.
Unlike the vanilla game, the crevasse at the bottom of the Control Centre’s buttress has more rockets, a DMR, health and a sprint armour ability in it, but I stick with my health regen as the exit after here requires it. It requires it now too in fact, as the banshee has been moved in SPV3 to the bridge farther down the hills behind the frozen waterfall lake. It’s around this time that you encounter Covenant Savages; Covenant species -originally consisting of brutes in Halo 2 but expanded on in SPV3 to include at least grunts, jackals and skirmishers- using human weapons. Some jackal snipers on hard to reach ridges on the hills have sniper rifles and fighting them in my original Legendary run of SPV3.1 was no picnic.
As I cross the lake and start making my way down the foothills, I notice that the Flood have made an early return. Normally they are supposed to appear when you get to the 2 bridges in the second fjord, but I knew they’d arrive early from my original playthrough, just not this early. Some brute and shielded elite combat forms plus a gasbag and elite carrier form accompanied by some loose flugs come across the ice to get me, only to get burned by my brute plasma rifle.
Down there is the Banshee I need as well as a Covenant terminal. Directly below me is a small lookout platform with grunts on it and hunters below that. The snipers haven’t seen me yet so I drop down to the crow’s nest, throwing my cluster grenades at the shades down there.
I have a hard time dealing with the snipers once both hunters have gone splatterbyes, until I just use rockets and take the sniper rifle of the one closest to the hunters. The one on the ridge above I snipe with the rifle and I use a fuel rod assault cannon to mortar the other snipers on the bridge, one with a sniper rifle, one with a DMR. And I thought Rocket Flood were annoying, now grunts can have rocket launchers too! Past all of them, there actually are 2 banshees now and a charging column that strangely doesn’t seem to work. The tunnel we came here through will be our exit when we destroy the pulse generator and as my Legendary playthrough of the old version proved, brute plasma rifles, brute plasma pistols and carbines are a must down there, so whenever you find a charging column, backtrack to it whenever you run low on ammo to recharge your guns’ batteries.
This is why you need the charging columns on this level. There’s a massive Flood hive down there and banshees and the hawk won’t make it all the way through because there’s just so many Flood, so you are forced to hoof it on foot. I was speaking to my brother Wren recently at time of writing and he says this level is where he gave up on SPV3.1 and never beat it, as he was sick of the new areas in SPV3 and how they ruin the game’s pacing. I mean, he’s not entirely wrong: of all the levels in SPV3, Two Betrayals is the worst, especially on Legendary as it’s already a long, hard fight against both the Covenant and Flood in the original and Anniversary, but now the foothills in the extended third canyon, long Flood hive in the wraith tunnel and the dam cavern make even longer, turning the whole thing into a difficult, frustrating slog.
The Final Run chapter later on is where you start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in the vanilla game but here, simply getting to the extra-long anti-grav lift back to the regular level is like the second coming of Christ. The saving grace of this level is that you feel like a survivor, having to run and avoid getting killed by the Flood in dark, icy canyons and caverns for so long and the SPV3 version makes that even more true, especially the hive. So long as you can adapt your strategies to SPV3 once you get back to “civilisation”, the rest of the level should be a piece of cake. The new areas of the Pillar of Autumn however are genuinely fun once you get to the Maw, undoing the frustration of going through them the first time in Stage 1. We’ll get to that.
Now I take the banshee on the left for luck and fly back toward the control centre. The pulse generator room never moved: it’s still inside a small platform ¾ of the way up the canyon wall. You can reach it in Assault on the Control room in the original and Anniversary but the door is locked. Not anymore. There’s normally an elite plus a few grunts carrying handheld fuel rod cannons on the platform (appearing in the game for the first time in Halo 1) but now there’s a pair of shades, jackal snipers, skirmishers and an elite with a carbine. There’s also an anti-air wraith on a small rock ledge just on the corner near the waterfall, but I do some safety bombing runs on the ice bridge with my banshee’s own fuel rod cannon for later.
To pilot the banshee, you lie on that little board with a nice little roof to keep off the rain. Your legs dangle down though as I’m so tall, with the feet poking out the back of the roof while you’re secured in place. I always wanted one of these as a kid to fly around in and smite bullies and their houses from the air. Much faster than my bikes. I even used to have dreams of flying them too. If they can make a warthog in real life, not only do I want one of those with a roof, but I’d kill for a real banshee as well.
When I’m actually flying it, it looks weird compared to the other games. The roof looks like a seraph fighter. It’s dark and snow continues to fall, which means that visibility is poor. The fog extends throughout most of the fjord, looking like the White Acropolis mountain range in Egypt (at least a couple of centuries in the future, anyway). The same issues with the fog in Halo PC vanilla and Halo Anniversary’s Classic mode apply here too, but the latter’s remastered mode definitely adds an actual skybox to the “ceiling”, namely a night sky with a full moon. Unfortunately, I can’t find a screenshot of the blasted thing and I haven’t gotten far enough in Halo Anniversary PC to provide one of my own. Oh, by the way, did I mention at time of writing that Halo Anniversary for the PC version of Master Chief Collection has recently come out now?
That’s the pulse generator. We saw what appeared to be a mini version of it in one type of the patrol rooms in the other canyons. This one is bigger, takes up more vertical space and already appears to be firing a stream of neutrinos through a hole in the ceiling. Maybe they are funnelled into the main beam chamber and are released upon firing, being kept and more safely discharged constantly through capacitors until then. That or these things generate the slipspace catalyst specifically and not the actual pulse beam, I don’t know.
One of the Halo wikis says their purpose may be to produce gamma ray burst explosions, but wouldn’t those do more harm to all life, sentient or otherwise as well as environmental damage on any planets they hit if the source of the blast is close enough?
Cortana normally tells me what to do next here, but in SPV3.2 at least, she says her line early outside before I clear the landing pad. “That’s the pulse generator. The central core is the signal amplifier. That’s what we need to shut down. We need to interrupt the pulse generator’s energy stream. I’ve adjusted your shield system so that it will deliver an EMP burst to disrupt the generator, but you’ll need to walk into the beam to trigger it.” I stop just shy of the metal guard blocks. I’ll have to do what? “The EMP blast should neutralise the generator. But it will also drain your shields and leave you vulnerable until they recharge.” Should? Is there a more efficient way to commit suicide? She’s right though as I will survive.
I step into the beam and try to squeeze into the gap between the inner forked block things. The space is too small though and Halo 3’s version of the pulse generators has even smaller blocks. Anniversary seems to be based on those.
There’s a massive bang, the generator causes some kind of earthquake and my shields are completely gone. Cortana says that the pulse generator has overloaded and the central core is offline. The second pulse generator is located in the adjacent canyon with the tall, large mesa where I used the Spectre for the first time. Cortana marks the tunnel with a Nav point when I head back outside. I take cover to let my shields recharge as sentinels storm into the room once the electronics are fried.
Act 2: Breaking Stuff to Look Tough – White Acropolis
Next is the other saving grace of this level in SPV3: in order to open the shield door covering the entrance to the tunnel at the bottom of the foothills, I have to fly to the now heavily defended gallery at the far end of the canyon, teeming with covenant of all types including hunters and AA wraiths, in order to hit 2 holo panels in what appear to be doorways, but are dead ends. This is where I return to the ice bridge and storm the place with the Sparrowhawk, all to the other kickass tune from Halo 2’s Volume 2 OST, Leonidas/This Glittering Band AKA the Regret gondola theme. Nothing says storming a stronghold by sea and air than this timeless classical piece by Marty O Donnell.
Halo 2 version:
Both the rockets and machineguns are from the Hornet Gunship in Halo 3. Use rockets on infantry and both on the tanks, as jackal snipers have UNSC sniper rifles here and they will destroy your gunship quickly, despite the overshield it gives you. The green shade turrets are fuel rod shades, based on a similar shade type from at least Halo Reach. Another reason to keep the SPV3.1 AA wraiths as their fuel rod cannons serve as flak guns, prolonging this fight and, more importantly, the awesome music as you carefully bomb them out of range. Normal wraiths plus covenant and Flood storm the tunnel once it’s open. The Sparrowhawk is too far gone to take through it at this point so I change it out for a banshee.
Abandon hope all ye who enter here. Lots of rocket combat forms come from the growth pods in the hive and those pods are everywhere. Many line the high walls and ceilings of the spiralling ramps and there appear to be living Covenant trapped down here trying to fight them off. I take too much damage and am forced to set the ship down by some destroyed wraiths forming a barricade through a very dark section of the tunnel though it’s thankfully near the end. In my original Legendary playthrough, I had to abandon it while still on the ramps and run all the way down to this point before getting through the dark area, it wasn’t pretty. A VISR would be handy right now, but all I have is my flashlight. Here’s where the charging column business saved my life in my Legendary run. It seems devoid of Flood past the covenant I find until I reach the dam cavern with the light bridges so either it’s been toned down for SPV3.2 or the hard part was Legendary only. I’m actually kind of disappointed.
I also make a shocking discovery that all of the charging columns in this level do not work in SPV3.2. WHY?! THEY WORKED IN SPV3.1! WHY NOT HERE?! I know this because I was able to score a brute plasma rifle and carbine here in Legendary to deal with the creeps both in the tunnel and outside it, then keep running back to the charging column to recharge, and it worked fine. Not anymore it seems.
After clearing a path to the light bridges, all of them except the one to the exit are active now. It pays to use the DMR here to snipe the brutes and snipers on the left so I can reach a second sparrowhawk. That way, I can fly to down the other bridge to see what’s there, and continue ahead to the exit without any problem. There’s Flood growth pods in the junction that spawn rocket combat forms and infection forms so keep that brute plasma pistol at the ready.
The other bridge just has a banshee guarded by elites and a brute in case your gunship takes too much damage. It may well do as there’s a tough dogfight against a lot of banshees ahead by the ridge to the exit. I have to reload once when fighting them. Inside the door is a Flood hive under attack by sentinels as well as a Forerunner terminal near a toppled brute meat hook stack. It’s in a different position to where it was when I came through here on the way to the control room.
So that is the purpose of snowy areas on Halo rings. The Installation 05 Library in Halo 2 has one such area outside it and the ARK control room known as the Citadel is in such an area too. Delta Halo’s control room is on a rainy beach though for some odd reason. The bit about the waterfall, purpose of the dam I glimpsed in Stage 5 in the cavern I was just in and the ability to turn this place into Tinnos, Antarctica with permafrost are interesting little details that the terminal system and good writing can do for us.
We won’t have to worry about the Flood again for a bit, matching Halo 1 so I take the anti-grav lift all the way back up to the patrol room I initially cloaked through. Unlike vanilla, all the patrol rooms and areas with blue lighting in this level are now red, presumably as a warning that the Flood have breached the area. Speaking of which, no sooner do I make it past brutes and elites in the sunken shelter hall where the active camo was, the best part of Covenant Dance starts up and we hear the Flood growling as combat forms storm elites in the next patrol room. Grabbing a shotgun and plasma rifle or shotgun is a must hear, but keep the rocket launcher if you have one and conserve ammo. You’ll need it in all versions, especially on Legendary.
One of the elites in this patrol room is now an honour guard with a sword and the swarm of flugs that eerily clip their penetrators through the exit door have been replaced with jackal carrier forms. Outside on the first of the 2 bridges, Covenant square off against Flood firing on them from the other bridge. A sentinel or 2 shows up as I get further along but they concentrate on the aliens. The bridge lights seem to remain their original blue so maybe the red lighting only applies for the indoor areas.
An honour guard in the other sunken shelter hall nearly gets me in the patrol room prior to it, but I manage to put it down after reloading once. I’m now out of rockets but that gets fixed quickly: a lone combat form with a rocket launcher ambushes you from the far end of the sunken shelter hall. Nevermind that it’s a narrow space but it doesn’t matter as it has a clear line of sight at you and there’s almost no room to dodge, making you a sitting duck. Hide behind the pillars or corner at the entrance if you can and try either tossing a grenade or sneaking up close before he fires. You need the launcher for both this part and the second pulse generator, but I wasn’t planning to run out of ammo by wasting it on an honour guard.
The good news is that he appears to be already dead when I get there. Good. There’s 2 human combat forms with RPGs on the second bridge and they may take you by surprise, what with the snow, enemies on the first bridge and the ones on our side leading up to the rocket Flood.
As I creep through the patrol room to the second bridge, there’s a few ear splitting bangs as the Flood destroy some of the machines in the ceiling before dropping down from above. Stay in the perimeter hall and you should be fine, but watch your motion tracker in case any try to sneak up behind you.
Banshees attack on the second bridge, gasbags crowd the early sections of it and the Flood are more bold: they’ll leap over to this bridge from the other one. One banshee rams one the left glass panel by the entrance so I grenade it. The aforementioned rocket guys wipe out almost all of my health and I’m very lucky to kill them before they fire again. The next patrol room is pretty much the same idea as the last so I take the time to try and get another shotgun. Shotgun ammo is plentiful on this level normally, courtesy of the Flood but in SPV3, not so much.
Flugs swarm you from above as you take the next anti-grav elevator, now joined by jackal carrier forms. Don’t waste ammo on them and try melee attacks. Down below is the only side passage patrol room we get to visit on this level. Don’t bother with stealth this time: 2 combat forms drop down from above as you approach the main part of the room. Except now they are invisible combat forms! Those normally only appear in The Maw if you take too long to get health and rockets in the second armoury, but SPV3 adds a lot of them in here. I fight my way through the patrol room and run out of shotgun shells again, forcing me to run, only surviving as I snag health and a carbine from some combat forms in growth pods. It’s not pretty.
I didn’t bring this up until now but DO NOT let flugs attack you when your shields are down. They will stick to you and rapidly gnash away at your health with their penetrators through the armour. Jumping around may shake them off, but they can and will do serious damage to you before then unless you’re very quick or very lucky. In Halo 2 onward they’re even worse: those games have regenerating health under your shields instead of a good health system so infection forms are an instant kill if you lose your shields.
Outside, enforcers show up as I deal with an RPG grunt and a brute before getting a ghost. I then deal with another ghost as the sentinel enforcers attack the wraith to the far left. And do NOT drive too close to the enforcers. They’ll pick you up in your vehicle and destroy it instantly, liking killing you in the process. They are bad for this in Quarantine Zone in Halo 2 as well, but at least then you have a scorpion tank assuming you boarded a Flood controlled one. The next terminal is in the dip below the pipes, in the same area as before.
What’s more, all of the patrol rooms are lined with 4 of those vent shafts we saw in the Library. A skull is hidden in one of them in Anniversary but I can’t remember if it’s this level, Assault on the Control Room or the Library. (I know for certain there’s one in a vent there at least) That explains how they got here.
I make a mad dash in the ghost to the ridge at the far end, narrowly avoiding the wraith mortars. There’s an elite and a jackal with an assault rifle on the ice through the little tunnel. There’s normally a warthog waits at the bottom of the curved snowy ramp where I destroyed a phantom what feels like years ago, while grunts up top bombard you with plasma grenades as you get more ammo, but they’re all gone here. There’s just some jackals on the ramp.
Oh boy. The banshees I need to reach the pulse generator are by the turret hill. The balcony on the mesa with Balho’s terminal about snow now has a Forerunner terminal that wasn’t there before. I drive around the bottom of the mesa first in order to clear out the covenant that guard the banshees, including some occupied ones. There’s an AA wraith too but I can just board it (I bomb it with the banshee in vanilla) as the enforcers don’t destroy it first. One of the brutes by the parked banshees has a rocket launcher. Inside the mesa’s bottom floor are several sentinels.
As Halo 2 and 3 later show, the Covenant can’t start their own party, so our whole mission on this level is just busywork. Now Spark is considering kidnapping another unlucky marine to fire the ring for him, that isn’t good. I hope Cortana messages those back at Alpha Base and elsewhere on the ring, warning them that the Monitor cannot be trusted and they are to shoot him and any sentinels on sight. I already know the latter won’t work against the Monitor himself without a Spartan Laser however, as he’s immune to everything except that one gun. We won’t have it for one more game so nothing we have can kill him.
On top of the mesa is a large landing pad marked with a symbol that looks like the 7th column, crowded with shades, rocket grunts, jackal snipers, and elites with carbines. More covenant fire on us from the 2 landing pads on either side of the canyon walls, the marked one leading to the pulse generator. The other has an AA wraith and a sparrowhawk I can take once I clear the area.
I make strategic bombing runs on the mesa top and wraiths, using the banshee’s normal twin plasma turret to dogfight other banshees. When my shields get too low, I dive below the edge of the mesa out of range to let them recharge before flying back up.
On the landing pad is the next covenant terminal next to a small alcove that looks like it’s meant to lead to an elevator up here, but it’s too shallow and completely empty. A rocket launcher and battle rifle wait inside the alcove.
So the sentinel majors have black coating in SPV3? I never noticed. It’s golden when we see them for the first time in the main games, which is Halo 2. Halo 1 does have sentinels with shields however, and major ones in Halo 2 are almost always shielded if I remember correctly.
I fetch the sparrowhawk and head for the pulse generator. This one is the worst of the 3 as there’s a full scale battle between the Flood and sentinels in here and several have rocket launchers. You need to deal with the flugs before destroying the generator so they don’t try to infect you once the EMP wipes out your shields. Then, as soon as that happens, even more rocket launcher combat forms mixed in with gasbags and other combat forms hiding the rocket guys ambush you when you try to leave. The worst part? You usually only get a checkpoint in the original game and Anniversary when you enter this room, and sometimes not even that, so dying forces you to do the whole bloody thing all over again, at worst sending you back to the banshee flight or before you even get the banshee. Now you know why I said in the last stage that rocket Flood can go do naughty things to the Halo ring’s star.
Luckily I manage to get through this with only 2 deaths this time, which still comes as a surprise to me. With one pulse generator remaining, I head back to the sparrowhawk and fly down to the tunnel I drove the grizzly tank through so long ago.
I have to split this Stage in half again as the 2 Control Centre levels are just too long.
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