Episode 7: Invasion

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.

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