Mission Title: Tip of the Spear (Halo: Reach)
P.O.V. Character: Noble Six
Stage Number: 4/52
This is it! Finally, the UNSC counter-attack begins. Warthogs tear across a plain toward the Covenant landing zone, and above them Falcons provide air support. The Stealth Pylon we found the previous night is detonated remotely, and then banshees scream out of the sky. Wraith tanks bombard the onrushing UNSC force, and a mortar round demolishes the bridge Kat is driving toward! We make the jump, barely, but the Warthog wrecks on the other side; another Warthog tries to clear the gap and isn't so lucky.
|Pelican, bridge-layer edition|
A Falcon lands with Jorge on it, and we clamber aboard. The plan is for us to fly the rest of the way to the Spires that Command wants scouted. We man the guns on the Falcon as we're flown down the canyon, past Covenant ground forces, but as we enter the energy field being generated by Spire One, the Falcon loses power! The ensuing wreck kills the crew, and it's up to Jorge and Noble Six to move on to the Spire, which ONI believes to be a teleportation device linked to... something. The Grafton can take out the Spire, but first we'll need to disable the Spire's control room. And that calls for Jetpacks!
Once the energy shield is down, the frigate Grafton arrives on the scene and demolishes Spire One, but the celebration doesn't last long: a Covenant Supercarrier appears and the Grafton is shot from the sky.
The cutscene that starts this mission is fantastic: the UNSC counter-attack, in all its glory. Dozens of Warthogs racing across the plain, everyone is excited, there's a feeling of 'hoo-rah!' flag-waving to the whole proceeding... and then things go bad and your Warthog blows up and you're flat on your belly, charged with taking an enemy-held slope. It evokes every World War II movie you've ever seen, and it's phenomenal.
Special mention to the doomed 'hog-load of soldiers that don't make it across the bridge. It's a brilliant 'oh crap' moment, and it's the best transition from cutscene to first-person gameplay so far (and, as far as I can remember, in the entire series).
This is as good a time as any to talk about Auntie Dot, who communicates with Noble Team during missions and keeps them connected with each other when they are separated by distance. She's an AI construct that monitors the situation on the ground by tapping into security cameras, and her representation (as a series of blinking lines) appears during loading screens. Carter communicates with her directly, and uses her information to plan missions for Noble Team. In Chronological Halo, she's the first AI construct we encounter, and she'll seem pretty limited compared to the others we'll meet, but Auntie Dot is a good baseline as our first.
The first appearance of Jetpacks is a lot of fun. They're not strictly necessary to get to the Spire's control room, but it's definitely entertaining to fly around the giant structure.
|The UNSC frigate Grafton takes charge|
When Halo: Reach was first announced, this is the mission everyone expected: a huge battle during wartime, with tons of targets and things exploding everywhere, Warthog shootouts, Banshees screaming overhead, Wraith tanks firing blue plasma, huge structures exploding. The battles are huge, and the Spire at the end of the mission is even bigger.
Five Spartan helmets out of five.