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.
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.
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.
Roland Shows up during the interegation to let us know that Spartan Thorne is alive.
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.
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.
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?
Raaagghhh? Did we really need a translation of this?
Glassman runs straight into the hands of the Elites dragging Thorne back to ‘Mdama, but the Spartan recovers and takes down the pair.
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…
“Hmm, I don’t know where this bomb is, but I’m certain that blowing it up will be a good idea”, said Gek.
Sure enough, blowing it up was a good idea, just not for the Covenant side…
“Oops, my bad”, said Gek
“See you in another life, brutha”, said Gek
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.
Spartan Ops finally feels like a mini-Campaign.
Ch. 1: 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
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
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
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
Covenant employing a Harvester in their search for a mysterious artifact. Spartans are deployed to shut down its operations.
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.