Spartan Ops Episode 8 Trailer

I’m a little behind on this one, but here is the trailer for Episode 8 – Expendable

Looks to me like Halsey betrayed the Infinity once again. I could be wrong, but that “I’m sorry Captain” makes it sound like she wanted to be taken. Maybe she brought the attack in the first place? Or it could be that she is simply apologizing for causing the attack. Can’t wait to find out!!

See you on the Grifball court,
Justcal24

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Spartan Ops Episode 7 – Invasion – Full Review

I really hate to sound like a broken record, but this might be the best episode yet. I will place this caveat on that statement however: While last week’s much improved gameplay over-shadowed the cutscene, this week was slightly reversed. I say slightly, because this week’s cutscene was spectacular in a lot of ways, much better than the last installment. The gameplay did not see much improvement  which means it stayed at a level I am fully satisfied with.

Cutscene

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Our opening scene shows Dr. Halsey in her cell, perhaps feeling a little dejected, and sorry for herself after her interview with the Captain. She looks that way, but as we shall see, she is really contemplating something quite underhanded…

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“Indid Irridium” translated from Latin means “Introduced Rainbow” (according to Google Translator). I have absolutely no idea what this means. However, we can assume that the phrase is either a back door into all AI’s, or only a back door into Roland. In either case, it seems to rid him of the “Smart”, and leave him as just another AI following orders. We have seen Halsey treat AI’s with little regard before, but in this instance it seems a little more personal, almost like she’s messing with Cortana (oh wait, she did that to…). I think this is because we have built a relationship with Roland during his work with Crimson.

This brings me to one of the main things I took from this episode. As much as we, and I in particular on this blog, have defended Halsey against all the crap being spewed at her from everyone on the Infinity, In this scene she proves that she deserves it. Here we do not have the benefit of her interior monologue to shield us from the fact that what she is doing is wrong. In every other instance, her wiping of Cortana’s mind, her kidnapping of Kelly, and even her involvement in the Spartan II program, we have heard what she has thought about her actions, and why she was doing what she was doing. Here, we see her actions without that filter, the way everyone else in the UNSC sees her, and I’ve got to say I don’t like it. I’m still a Halsey fan of course, I don’t really think anyone who has been with Halo from the start really can hate her, but I understand where the hate is coming from.

After this season of Spartan Ops, I may be willing to give Karen Traviss a pass on Glasslands. I said “may”. Part of me wonders how much of that really was Traviss taking liberties, and how much was 343 telling her how awful Halsey is/was.

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When the Marines take Halsey from her cell, and when they drop her off, it seems like they know something is up.

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In reality, if the UNSC had been upfront with Halsey, they probably could have gotten a lot more done. That is a major failing of the UNSC, on ONI in particular. the Paranoia within the organization leads to more problems than it will ever solve. She almost seems like Cortana in this scene, with her obsession with knowledge.

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This was the best scene in Spartan Ops by far. When Roland Said what he did, and Halsey gasped and reacted that way, I thought “Wow, she didn’t know!” I guess I assumed that she knew for some reason. The CG in this scene is fantastic. If you slow it down, you can watch Halsey’s face go from shock, to thought, to having an idea, to acting it out by calling for a Pelican.

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When she started talking with ‘Mdama I thought “Oh no, don’t go there”. That is what Halsey does however. Whatever it takes.

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I wonder how far this plan of hers really could have gone if Roland hadn’t pulled himself together. This was actually a little disturbing, kind of like when Cortana was splitting herself in the campaign.

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Lasky seems a little embarrassed  and a little pissed off here. I think there would be a lot less secrets floating around if he had his way.

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Another great shot of Halsey, looking quite miffed.

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Here we have some awesome shots of the firefight, including two of the best pics of Commander Palmer I’ve seen.

I really hope we get to see John in Spartan Ops. They have pulled through on almost every other fan wish for Spartan Ops in this second half, and I hope they don’t leave that one out. I would be entirely satisfied if it wasn’t a full episode, but just a ten second cameo at the end. Something. Anything!

Missions

While four of these chapters where just back and forth run throughs of the same map, I like them all quite a bit, so I didn’t mind. That map was also big enough that you didn’t feel like you were playing the same mission over and over. This was some of the most fun I’ve had playing Solo. I was actually surprised we didn’t get the Mantis run from the campaign, but I’m glad they went with all new spaces. Part of me wonders if we will ever see these areas again, as it’s not everyday the Infinity is invaded.

Ch.1: Backup

Map: Apex

Backup

All fireteams are recalled to UNSC Infinity to repel Covenant invasion.

This map was my favorite to play in Matchmaking. Even though I didn’t get the Mantis, I still had a good time. It was quite fun Solo as well, after I figured out where I was going. Some of these second half maps are confusing!

Ch.2: Home Field

Map: Infinity

Home Field

Infinity hanger bay is overrun by with Covenant forces. Fireteam Crimson routed to eliminate hostile force.

The hanger bay area of this map was my favourite area to play, solo or on a team. The height advantage, plus the rooms to dive into for cover made this really fun. There is also an area on one side where you can shoot underneath some platform to hit the Covvies on the other side, and they don’t seem to be able to see you very well.

Ch.3: Engine of Destruction

Map: Infinity

Engine of Descruction

Havok nukes have been detected near Infinity engine rooms

Perhaps my least favourite  as I spent a lot of time dieing, particularly in Matchmaking. I seem to throw caution to the wind when playing with others.

Ch.4: The Guns Of Infinity

Map: Infinity

The Guns of Infinity

Covenant forces en route to retake Infinity engine room. Spartans are to defend against further incursion.

Ironically, this is my second favourite “Infinity” mission. “What?” you say, “Didn’t you just say this area was your least favourite “. Yes, but this time it’s different. the addition of snipers, and the fact that I could sit back and pick off Elites distracted by my teammate’s bullets made this much better. this could have to do with my decision to sit back on this mission, or the height advantage, or both.

Ch.5: Victory Lap

Map: Infinity

Victory Lap

Covenant threat has been neutralized, but scattered hostiles remain onboard Infinity. Fireteam Crimson are volunteered for cleanup duty

A great way to wrap up a great episode. 343 know we like rocket fights, and they deliver almost every week.

Sorry for the late review, but I wanted to go through each mission both solo and in matchmaking so that I could have each experience to write about. I find I prefer solo much of the time, but I think that is because of my careful play style. If I was as cautious in matchmaking as i am solo, I’d have two or three kills per mission. Playing solo, these missions felt even more “Campaign-y” than last weeks, which quite impressive.

See you on Infinity,
Justcal24

A great commentary on the Community Forge Test Playlist from The Quim Ninja…

Teabag Or Die

Excuse me if this post is a little short on eloquence or any real substance, I just had some quick thoughts about Halo 4 I really wanted to get down and transmit to whoever wanted to read them. This is them.

When Halo 4 came out my initial review was written very soon afterward, with a head full of hype and a cloud full of judgment. Needless to say my fan-boy boner was only very recently spent, still a little blood in it, and I may have been somewhat overly positive. Since then, as with quite a few members of the Halo community, I have noticed quite a number of things that don’t sit too well with me, whether it be the minor foible of an utterly overpowered boltshot, the gripe of a pretty pointless unlocking system or the full on grievance of shipping the game with literally no file…

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Spartan Ops Episode 7 – Invasion

Find the info on the latest Op here.

As much as we have all defended Halsey from the constant bashing by the S-IVs, she has it coming now. We’ve seen her use similar tricks on AI before, I just didn’t see it coming with Roland. He seems quite pissed.

The action is really picking up, and I can’t wait to fight on the Infinity. Will the baddies invade more than once, or are these one and done maps?

Watch for the full review Wednesday.

See you on Infinity,
Justcal24

McFarlane UNSC Cryotube with Master Chief

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Slowly, so slowly expanding my collection. I just wanted to share this one, because I got it for 18 dollars at Superstore, normally it is around 30-35. I was just browsing, but when I saw that I figured I’d better buy it. After shipping this could easily have cost me 40-50 bucks.

See you on Infinity, Justcal24

Spartan Ops Episode 7 Trailer

Oh wow, hot on the heels of episode 6 comes the trailer for number 7, entitled “Invasion”. Hot damn it looks fantastic! That music doesn’t hurt either. It will make a lot of people very happy if we get to fight on Infinity, and is Halsey making a deal with ‘Mdama? Can’t wait!

See you, and hopefully the Covenant, on Infinity,
Justcal24

Spartan Ops Episode 6 – Scattered – Full Review

Cutscene

 

Let me tell you, that was the best episode of Spartan Ops to date. The cutscene picks up where we left off, with Halsey in hot water, and does a decent job continuing the story. All in all however, the CG scene was pretty much on par with what we have seen before. That means that it was fantastic, but not what made the difference in this weeks episode. What made the difference for me this week was the gameplay, and most specifically the maps where that gameplay took place. They felt real and engaging, and a cut above the previous batch.

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In this opening scene, I almost thought that we were hearing Cortana, and not Halsey. An easy mistake to make, since it’s the same actress voicing both. But if you listen to what she is saying, the same could easily be applied to Cortana. They both desire to know everything. I wonder if this was a conscious decision by 343, or if I am reading into something that isn’t there.

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If you look behind Halsey in this scene, you will see the Halo 4 loading screen logo spinning in the background, which is a nice touch.

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Roland Shows up during the interegation to let us know that Spartan Thorne is alive.

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Next up we see a neat little flashback sequence, showing how Thorne took down some Elites. He probably could have taken them all out, IF HE HAD HIS HELMET.

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Glassman eventually figures out how to do something with the “Shrine”, but he isn’t really sure what it is. The Elites are sure he has awoken the Librarian, and as they kneel in awe, he sees his chance to escape.

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However, it seems he has erected some kind of force field around the shrine. I wonder if this is something designed to keep all but humans out? If a human tried to pass through, would the sheild allow them inside? Or is it just some kind of security system?

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Raaagghhh? Did we really need a translation of this?

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Again, Grrr?

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Glassman runs straight into the hands of the Elites dragging Thorne back to ‘Mdama, but the Spartan recovers and takes down the pair.

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Glassman is so choked up to see Thorne, he can’t even speak. At first I thought Thorne should be angry at Glassman for betraying them, but then I realized that nobody knows what He has been doing…

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“Hmm, I don’t know where this bomb is, but I’m certain that blowing it up will be a good idea”, said Gek.

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Sure enough, blowing it up was a good idea, just not for the Covenant side…

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“Oops, my bad”, said Gek

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“See you in another life, brutha”, said Gek

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Here we see Glassman’s…glasses. Ominous.

If it seems like I am just playing “Caption this picture” here, it’s because I am. This cutscene was predominately action, and where there is action there is usually an absence of story, and not a lot of stuff to drill down into.

Missions

Spartan Ops finally feels like a mini-Campaign.

Ch. 1: Escape Plan

Map:  Lockup

Escape Plan

All contact has been lost with Fireteam Crimson. Last seen facing insurmountable odds, they were either killed or captured. Infinity will continue attempting to establish their status.

The one thing I said was that I hoped we would find out what happened after the cliffhanger we were left with in December, and 343 did not disappointing  We start this Mission bound to a wall in a Covenant camp. Particularly interesting is that we only start with a carbine, plasma pistol, and no load outs. I really liked this, as it made it somehow more real that we were captured, and didn’t have all our equipment. Hijacking a Phantom with the marines to escape was also a treat. Like I said in the intro, these maps are big, well laid out, and versitle, and this one is no exception.

Ch. 2: All The Secrets

Map: Control

All The Secrets

En route to rendezvous with Infinity, Fireteam Crimson has been forced to land at Covenant control facility. Spartans are investigating structure’s purpose.

Here we have another Campaign space re-purposed into a Spartan Ops mission, and it works quite well. These Missions have a definate Camapign feel to them, moreso than the first bunch. We also have a valid reason for being here, having been mistaken for an actual Covenant Phantom. The Rocket fight at the end was the highlight of this one for me, though the Phantoms could be annoying.

Ch. 3: Need to Know

Map: Warrens

Need To Know

Surveillance revealed an underground Covenant intelligence base. Fireteam Crimson is deployed to dig up information on Covenant operations.

Here we start to loose the straight storyline and start to be simply “Deployed” again. However, I will overlook this because of the fun stealth stuff in this mission. Though I haven’t tried it yet, I wonder how far you could get being sneaky here. I also really liked this map, to me it is the prettiestt of the group.

Ch 4: Search and Destroy

Map: Cyclone

Shut Down

In reaction to intel extracted from Covenant control, Fireteam Switchback is investigating a Covenant archeological dig while Fireteam Crimson disrupts a Covenant supply depot.

Here we have a re-purposed War Games map (Shatter), and it is my least favorite of this Episode. I enjoy Big Team on this map, and I did have fun on it’s SpOps iteration, but it just didn’t stand up quite as well next to the other chapters.

Ch 5: Switchback

Map: Harvester

Covenant employing a Harvester in their search for a mysterious artifact. Spartans are deployed to shut down its operations.

Switchback

Wow 343, just sneaking in the new vehicles all over the place. The first thing I thought when I read the description was “What the Hell is a Harvester?? Like, a Jotun?” Turns out it wasn’t anything of the sort. The Harvester looked like a Giant Scarab to me, and it even has Lekgolo in it, but the astetic of the monstrosity makes it seem less than Covenant. I am inclined to think that this is simply due to the redesign of the Covenant, however it looks radically different from the Lich in the Campaign level “Reclaimer” The walls look organic somehow. There is some discussion on Waypoint as to what exactly this thing really is, but whatever it is, it makes for a great set piece in the map.

I wonder what happened to Switchback? Were they taken by Covenant, Prometheans, or something else? I hope we get the answer to that question, and it’s not left hanging like science team Gargarin.

See you on Infinity,
Justcal24