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Halo 4: A Recap of Spartan Ops Episode 1

Spartan Ops Episode 1 Recap

For too many years, humanity was on the back foot—reacting to threats, rather than preventing them. The rest of the galaxy was bigger than us, stronger than us. We were mice, hiding in the shadows, hoping the giants wouldn’t see us. No more. Humanity is no longer on the defense. We are the giants now.

Each episode in Spartan Ops starts with a cinematic and is followed by five chapters. We’re unsurprisingly kicking off our recap with Episode 1, “Departure,” where the UNSC Infinity is embarking on a mission to return to Requiem.

Please keep in mind that since this is a recap, we’re going to be talking about the cinematics and the chapters. This means that there may be spoilers for the Halo 4 campaign and Spartan Ops from this point forward. We’ll try to keep the spoilers restricted to cinematic discussions, since that’s embedded after the cut and we’re expecting you to watch it before reading the text that follows it, but we make no promises about keeping the chapters spoiler-free.

An Overview of Halo 4’s Spartan Ops

Spartan Ops in Halo 4 can trace its roots back to Halo 3: ODST’s Firefight game mode. In Firefight, up to four players would band together and defeat increasingly difficult waves of Covenant. Players were granted life based on an arcade-style lives system, and once everyone died the game was over.

To call Spartan Ops the newest iteration of Firefight would be an understatement. Spartan Ops takes the short, combat-centric focus of Firefight and combines it with story elements. Spartan Ops takes place 6 months after the events of Halo 4 and is a continuation of the story. The goal of Spartan Ops is to keep players coming back to Halo 4 week after week, so all of this extra story content is broken up into episodes. Each episode begins with a pre-rendered cinematic (aren’t they all?) and is broken up into five missions—or chapters, if you prefer.

Players giving Spartan Ops a try will find themselves in the role of Crimson Team, who then end up being sucked into every major development. It turns out the Infinity is a very small ship, despite being over three miles long and having over 800 decks.

Of the ten episodes made for Spartan Ops, five are currently available. I’m not a big fan so far.

A Look at the Music of Halo 4

While I was playing through the Halo 4 campaign, I didn’t really notice the music. I heard music, but it never really jumped out at me. I can’t recall a firefight where I was pinned down by the Prometheans and had to fight my way out. I can’t recall a time where I was just walking along a majestic cliff vista. There are some cool moments in game, but the music just isn’t there.

In our review for Halo 4 I quipped, “the score is little more than background noise.” What makes the soundtrack lackluster?

World of Warcraft: Why Don’t We Like Professions?

In the background, I have World of Warcraft running as I level my death knight’s professions. I’m following a guide so she can hit 525 blacksmithing as soon as possible. After that, I’ll be grinding out her leatherworking skill, following a guide to minimize my material investment and maximize my skill point gains.

Dammit, I have to buy ten stacks of iron bars, and they cost 20 gold each on the auction house. I might have to start doing mining runs on my main if I want to cut costs.

Right now in World of Warcraft, we’re at the end of an expansion, literally hours away from the launch of Mists of Pandaria. I don’t know why I’m bothering to level my professions now when I know the cap will just increase by another 75 points (to 600) in less than a week. I’m just going to have to grind them out when I reach 90 anyway, right? This brings me to the actual question: why do we not like professions? (While this talks largely about WoW, these same ideas can apply to other games with crafting professions.)

Theramore’s Fall: A Look at WoW’s First Scenario

At this time during World of Warcraft’s release schedule it would be typical to feel a certain sensation of pre-expansion excitement. Having played World of Warcraft since The Burning Crusade, I fondly remember being excited about both Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm. However, with under a week left until Mists of Pandaria’s release, my feelings on the expansion can be summed up with “meh.”

I want to be excited about Mists of Pandaria, but I am finding it more and more difficult as the release date gets closer. One of the things that got me hyped about the previous expansions was the pre-expansion world events. The Scourge Invasion preceding Wrath of the Lich King is probably my favorite, but even the Elemental Invasion set the mood for Cataclysm. It seems Mists of Pandaria will not contain any pre-expansion world event. Blizzard has instead opted to use a Scenario called “Theramore’s Fall” to set the stage. Was it enough to bring some needed hype to Mists of Pandaria?

The Shattered Timeways: A Caverns of Time Dungeon

Last time I talked about World of Warcraft, I argued why legacy servers are an awful idea. Let’s just be honest: vanilla Warcraft was a mess. Sometimes I wonder how the game survived that first year, but I digress.1

With patch 5.0.4 out the door and Mists of Pandaria on the way, players seem to be clamoring for a return to classic; it’s probably just the same dozen people who have been posting on the forums about it for the last year, but whatever. Last time, I made mention of what Blizzard can do to appease to the players who want legacy servers—why would anyone want that?—without actually providing legacy servers. Blizzard actually has the means of accomplishing this, as I’m about to suggest a new dungeon set in the Caverns of Time.

Think about it: the Caverns of Time is a great way for Blizzard to return to vanilla Warcraft without devoting the resources to maintaining the hardware to run a vanilla Warcraft server. It’s brilliant in its simplicity.

Oh, and in case it’s not obvious: The Shattered Timeways is NOT a real dungeon… yet.

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