Once again, this is a recap of Halo 4’s Spartan Ops. This week, we’re going to be talking about the cinematics and chapters of Episode 2, “Artifact.” If you missed last week’s recap of Episode 1, here’s a link! There may be spoilers for the Halo 4 campaign from this point forward. Like last week, we’ll try to keep the spoilers restricted to cinematic discussions, since that’s embedded after the cut and we’re still expecting you to watch it before reading the text that follows it. We’re going to be a little bit better about not spoiling the chapters, but there will still be some spoilers.
How do you feel about Christmas music? I don’t care for it. Too cheerful and lyrics make straight references to snow, being jolly, holiness, or Christmas itself. It’s very niche music! And then you hear Christmas music in that awkward span between Halloween and New Years when it’s okay to play it, because apparently there’s way too much of it to be limited to December.
Here are five of my favorite tracks from video games that resemble Christmas music. Unlike real Christmas music, none of this is awful! Also, the lack of lyrics makes this music timeless, so you could enjoy it on a hot summer’s day. There’s also something really cheerful about sleigh bells, which nearly all of these tracks feature.
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.
Normally I would not make a post about someone hacking World of Warcraft, but this time it was so seemingly random I could not resist. I visited the Bug Report forum to make good on a request and I could not help but notice a topic entitled “Someone hacked WoW!!” Curious, I had to go take a look. There I found someone complaining about a strange event in the Echo Isles zone of the Cho’gall server. Apparently, The Prophet Skeram, a raid boss normally found in the Temple of Ahn’Qiraj, had been spawned all over the islands that make up the Troll starting zone. Naturally I took several screenshots and recorded a little clip (after opening a ticket).
James Whitehead is the owner and Lead Developer of Boss Baddie. He’s the man behind games like Wake, Lunnye Devitsy, Really Big Sky, and now Big Sky Infinity. Big Sky Infinity came out December 11 in the US and December 12 in the UK for both PS3 and PS Vita. We asked him some questions about indie games, Big Sky Infinity, and his next project. He gave us some answers. Click the jump for the full interview!
Nearly every week, Blog Azeroth proposes a shared topic to be discussed by World of Warcraft bloggers. For the week of December 9, 2012, the topic is: What raid-drop pets would you like to see? In Patch 5.1, Blizzard added battle pets as drops from certain raid bosses in Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, the Temple of Ahn’Qiraj, and Naxxramas. An achievement called Raiding with Leashes was also added. It requires players to collect all of the new raid pets and it awards a pet of its own, Mr. Bigglesworth. Patch 5.1 also changed it so that players could enter old raids without being in a raid group and the mechanics of certain bosses were changed to make them easier to solo.
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.
Tormishire is a game independently developed by James Whitehead. It is an adventure platformer with quasi-experimental gameplay. Tormishire draws similarities to Cave Story, Super Metroid, and Turrican, but it’s not quite like those games, and it’s not lacking in action; it’s best described as Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow meets Metroid.
Astrada, the world where Tormishire takes place, was inspired by Whitehead’s own local caves and landmarks. A resident of Saddleworth, England, Whitehead lives near several natural—and constructed—caverns and mines. The Speedwell Caverns, the Titan caves, and Dovestone Reservoir have all been cited as inspirational, albeit romanticized to some degree. Naturally, Tormishire takes place in a large cave system.
With so many sources of inspiration for both visual aesthetic and gameplay, Tormishire is the coolest indie game you haven’t played.
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?
Over a decade has passed since Bungie launched Halo: Combat Evolved for the Xbox. Halo broke new ground for both Bungie and Microsoft, redefining how first-person shooters play on consoles. The popularity of Halo spawned a whole new franchise for Bungie, and since then we’ve seen three sequels and a prequel under their leadership. Now, the mantle has been passed to 343 Industries, a studio spawned by ex-Bungie developers while also bringing in new talent.
Halo 4 is 343 Industries’ first foray into creating a new Halo game. It came out on November 6, 2012 for the Xbox 360. We’ve played the campaign both solo and in co-op, and we’ve played the multiplayer. We also played Spartan Ops, but the episodic nature of that content makes it difficult to review, so we are not including it here.