Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chronological Halo, 6/52: Exodus

Previously on Chronological Halo: A desperate plan looks to be the UNSC's finest hour, but even the destruction of the Covenant Super-carrier isn't enough to achieve victory. A massive Covenant fleet, the Fleet of Particular Justice, arrives by slip-space transit. It's not about defeating the Covenant anymore. It's about surviving them.

Mission Title: Exodus (Halo: Reach)
P.O.V. Character: Noble Six
Stage Number: 6/52


We've fallen through the atmosphere and safely back to Reach, thanks to our Re-entry Pack, but all of our weapons are lost; the only heat we're packing now is a pistol and our quick wits. Still carrying Jorge's dogtags, we climb a short hill and find ourselves on the outskirts of the city of New Alexandria.
The Long Night of Solace, destroyed at great cost
As we make our way alone through the deserted city, we pick up an emergency broadcast directing all teams to proceed to Traxus Tower to help with the evacuation of civilians. The pad is green, but may not be for long. Furthermore, there have been sightings of Covenant 'suicide squads,' teams of Grunts who arm plasma grenades in both hands and charge their enemies with no concern for their own lives. Passing through buildings in New Alexandria, we encounter a number of these squads and need to dispatch them with our pistol only.

Fear the blue glow, for it hates you and it hates itself
It's a relief to come out of the darkened buildings and encounter first other humans, and then an Assault Rifle. They're both equally pleased to see a Spartan. Our new fireteam is engaged with a new enemy: Brutes, large ape-like creatures fond of heavy armor and heavier Gravity Hammers. As we wait for the elevator to come back down to the Atrium, we get a chance to test out one of these Hammers for ourselves.

The Gravity Hammer: it's super effective!
The Starport is now covered by a Covenant Corvette, so that plan is no longer viable. A team of ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) specialists cooks up an alternate plan: to use an executive landing pad for the evacuations instead. And that's how we meet the Bullfrogs, a group of jetpack-wearing ODSTs who take us on a jumping tour of Traxus Tower's cargo port, leaping across gaps in the catwalks and working our way up the Tower.

Jump! Jump! Slide!
When we arrive at the executive landing pad we come into contact with armored Shade Turrets, Hammer-wielding Brutes, and other Covenant nasties, but Noble Six comes out on top. A Falcon lands, and we jump aboard to cover the evac transports. Evac Dispatch tries to get the UNSC frigate Stalwart Dawn to conduct a strike on the Corvette over the Starport, but this time won't be like the end of the 'ONI: Sword Base' mission; no Longswords are available. The pilot of one of the evac transports panics, saying he's got six hundred people aboard and needs to get out of the city *now*; his transport takes off anyway, but doesn't stand a chance.

After the grim sight of that transport splashing beneath the waves with all onboard, our Falcon lands. We have a new mission: priming two missile batteries and then using their control board to attack the Corvette over the Starport. The distraction should give the remaining transports time enough to get away. It works, and we're contacted by Kat. She picked up our transponder signal about an hour ago, but couldn't risk open communication. But now she does, and we tell her the sad news about Jorge. She sends a Falcon to bring us to the rest of Noble Team.

This mission is all about defending civilians and getting them onto their evacuation transports. The shadow of the Covenant Corvettes bombarding New Alexandria loom over everything, and it's interesting to think that each of them is similar to the one we boarded in the last mission; and look what it took to get rid of that one!

We're out of contact with Noble Team for the duration of this mission, interacting instead with civilians, ODSTs, and military personnel. These are mostly faceless and nameless entities, though the Bullfrogs leave an impression. That's mainly because aside from the short sequence at Spire One in a previous mission, they give us our first lengthy taste of the Jetpack, bounding across gaps as we make our way toward Traxus Tower. It's a fun sequence. Also fun is the on-rails Falcon turret sequence towards the end; consider it a warm-up for things to come, especially if you're playing co-op.

This is a serviceable level, with the Grunt suicide squads, Jetpack sequence, and destruction of the civilian evac transport being memorable moments, but overall it's not a standout. The color palette is grey, the weather is overcast, and it's suitably glum, but this is pretty standard as far as missions go.
Three Spartan helmets out of five.

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