Category: Xbox 360


The entrance to the final world: Click Clock Wood!

Click-Clock Wood is pretty unique, in that it’s one level with four different ‘seasonal’ forms.  The beginning of the level functions as a hub to the various seasons, and let’s you move between them.  It’s a lot of cause-and-effect gameplay, with some areas and things only accessible in certain seasons, but for now we only have access to Spring, so here we go!

Again, I started by exploring the perimeter of the level, checking landings and platforms thoroughly.  We collected a bunch of Notes, but no sign of Jiggys or Jinjos anywhere.  There is, however, a Mumbo Hut, where we’re turned into a fairly ridiculous-looking bee.  Luckily, the bee can bumble-fly indefinitely, and give us access to a few higher areas that we couldn’t get to before.  We found a squirrel inside the main tree who seems to want more acorns, a Jinjo trapped in a plant, and even a Jiggy at the very top of the tree!  I also found the switch to open the Summer aspect of the level, but being a bee, I can’t pound the switch.


A very pleased looking me… I mean ‘bee’

There’s a large beehive attached to the main tree that we couldn’t get inside as a bear, so we try again as a bee.  We managed to get in and see a Jiggy sitting there, but it looks like it’s encased in something and we have no way to get it out.  We do collect another Jinjo, though, and then head back to Mumbo to get changed back.  Now that I have an idea of the layout of the level, we do some double-jumping back to the Summer switch and pound it, opening the way to the next part of the level.  Continuing up, we pound a large egg that we saw earlier and release a baby eagle from inside, and at the very top of the tree, find a doorway which leads to another Jiggy!

I feel that’s it for here, so it’s back to the hub and we head through the Summer door.  A Jinjo makes itself known right near the entrance, so we snag that and set about collecting caterpillars for the eagle from earlier, as well as hunting for new Notes and Jiggys.  We help a beaver, Gnawty, get back inside his home, but can’t make it past the doorway as there’s a steep slope stopping us from continuing.  Hmm…


I don’t know how to get this Jiggy!

 The Autumn switch is easy to find, and after some more running around we discover a new path that wasn’t available in Spring, leading to another Jiggy.  We’re still a few caterpillars short, though, so we press onwards and grab another one, while finding another Jiggy hidden inside the treehouse which is getting more complete with each passing season. We’re able to get inside the beehive as a bear this time, but we still can’t get the Jiggy and the guard-bees are vicious and pursue you until you leave the hive, so we’ll hold off on that one again.  We manage to feed our collected caterpillars to the eagle chick who thanks us and goes back to sleep, but doesn’t hand out any collectibles, and the top of the tree has nothing new to off, either.  I guess it’s over to Autumn to see what’s in store over there.


These guard-birds are extremely annoying

Autumn seems heavy on the Notes, but that’s a good thing.  The eagle wants a bunch more caterpillars as well, so while we’re already looking everywhere in the level, we might as well collect what we can.  We picked up another Jinjo on top of a pile of leaves, and noted that Mumbo is still closed for business in this season.  Looks like we’ll have to take some risks to get the rest of these Notes.  We climb the tree again, grabbing what caterpillars we can find, and the squirrel ropes us into collecting acorns for him, as well.  Man, Banjo’s delivery service.  We dropped off the caterpillars with the eagle (still for no reward) and hit the Winter switch before we went back to collect the acorns.  Luckily, they were all pretty close to the squirrel, except for one which I’ll probably have to be in Bee form to grab.


Soooooo treacherous.

Winter’s last on the list, and we’ll give it a thorough look-over before we start bouncing between areas.  It’s probably the area that allows the most freedom, since there are Flight Pads scattered around the level for us to use, and use them we do.  First it’s straight up to the eagle, who finally gives us a Jiggy for feeding him all this time.  During the flight, I also notice the last Jinjo on top of Mumbo’s Hut, so we grab him and get our Jiggy for collecting them all.  There are notes scattered all over the place as well, so we grab as many as we can, which leaves us only 5 short of having them all.  There’s not much else in Winter besides a Grunty Switch for a Jiggy in the hub world, so it’s time to hoof it back to Spring, switch back to Bee mode, and then explore the others worlds in the insect state.


Lazy squirrel is too lazy to collect his own nuts.

But first, we head back to Summer, smash the rock preventing the beaver from getting back into his cave, and then head to the same place in Autumn.  We can finally swim up the area and claim a couple of Notes and another Jiggy!  Only a couple more to go!  It seems like we can’t take our Bee form to the other seasons, so I have to rethink my strategy a bit.  We finish collecting acorns for the squirrel, and that gives us the 8th Jiggy, and one’s in the beehive.  I decided to investigate the one other suspicious area in the level, and after planting some eggs and watering it throughout the seasons, the plant blossomed and gave me the 9th Jiggy!


This huge flower had to be watered through each season, and took me forever to figure out.

Just the one in the beehive left!  And Jiggy was actually easy, once I realized I just had to kill all the attacking bees in the hive.  I was just so sure it had something to do with being a Bee, or that giant flower.  Looking in all the wrong places, I guess. Well, that’s it for Click Clock Wood.

I grabbed the last Jiggy from the Grunty Switch outside the level (had to stay in Bee form to fly up to it), and headed to the finale!  I opened a Note Door earlier in the same area as Click Clock Wood, so I figured that should be the next area.  It only needed 760 or something, but it feels good to have all 900.  I don’t know why I do these things to myself.


The final world has more in common with Mario Party than Donkey Kong Country.

It’s… a quiz show/board game?  Yea.  That’s exactly what it is.  What is this place?  It plays like a board game, forcing you to complete a challenge on each square as you make your path towards the end.  Squares have various challenges, like questions about visuals or audio from the game, little trivia bits about levels, questions about Grunty (to which her sister was providing answers throughout the game), or boss-rushes and mini-game challenges.  It’s totally nuts, and infuriating, but kinda awesome!  Also, Grunty is now a star player, and her poorly and hilariously-wrought rhymes pervade the whole thing.  It’s pretty trying, since it’s such an odd mixture of gameplay and obscure observation skills, but eventually we make it to the end… and don’t fight Grunty?  We just rescue Tooty, and Grunty says she’ll escape while we’re forced to sit through the credits.  That’s brilliant.


This crazy witch took a few tries, but we prevailed in the end!

In any case, once the credits are over, I decided to go check it out one more time.  This time, the board was wide open, and there was a passage into another area off to one side.  A Note Door barred our way, or would have if we didn’t already have all 800 Notes.  Through the pasageway up to a final area where we’re able to face down with Grunty and put and end to her mischief.  She’s a pretty intense boss with a number of forms, so it takes some time to finally kill her off, as I memorize each pattern and counter it.  She finally loses though, and we blast her out of the mountain and run off for a final credits sequence!  That’s it for Banjo-Kazooie, finally off the list!


Where’s Grunty? You see that rock on the bottom of the screen? Somewhere under there.



Sweet, now that we’re done Mad Monster Mansion, it’s off to… oh no.  RUSTY BUCKET BAY!!  Noooooooooooo!


This will lead us to the next world… eventually…

Rusty Bucket Bay is probably one of the more infuriating worlds I’ve ever played in a platform game.  It’s just mean.  And of course, before I can willingly subject myself to it, I’ve gotta figure out how to open it up.  I manage to open the gate behind Mad Monster Mansion and found a small house in behind it.  Banjo can’t get in though, so it’s back to Mumbo in the Mansion, and Pumpkin-Banjo lives again!  After sneaking into the house through a crack, I find a switch in a coffin in the shack.  Hitting it raises the water level in a previous area, and starts a search for the next switches.  After finding the rest of them to raise the water level the rest of the way, and activating another Cauldron for quick access, we head into the level.  God help us.


Pleasant, right? Almost picturesque.

One of the big reasons that Rusty Bucket Bay is such a pain is because the oily water uses up your air twice as fast when you’re swimming, and of course, a lot of switches and items are underwater.  You even lose breath from swimming on the surface of the water, and don’t regain any of your Breath points until you’ve been out of the water on dry land for several seconds.  We hopped around and collected some Notes and our first Jinjo of the lot, hidden underwater beneath a grate near the beginning of the level.  We continued to explore the perimeter, found a couple more Notes, and made the dumb mistake of jumping into a caged area to rescue another Jinjo.  We got the little guy, but there’s a shark prowling in the caged area, and we don’t have much time in the water before he snacks us down.

There was a hole in the wall that led to a secret area with a Honeycomb Piece, so that’s awesome, but still no exit.  The shark ended up lunching us to death once we came back out, so I guess that’s one way to escape that are?  Argh.  On the way back to where we were, though, I saw a window that looked out of place, so we smashed it and dropped to another area… with a Jiggy!  That’s one down!  Another few Notes, plus a 1-Up, and we exited through the water and swam to dry land.


How did that guy get over there?

As we continued circling the level from the outside, we found a toxic waste pit with another Jinjo trapped at the edge.  How do these little guys get themselves into these messes?  We grabbed him, despite crappy camera angles costing us some damage, and headed into a nearby storage container to grab some more Notes.  Other containers had another Jinjo and another 1-Up, so none of it was for waste, but at that point we hit a wall and had to go back.


Totally not-suspicious switch.

Back to the beginning of the level, we headed up the ramp onto the boat.  We have a few Jinjos, one Jiggy, and about a third of the Notes in the level already, so this is probably where the meat of the level lies.  I explored the upper decks first, grabbing some more Notes and finding a pipe to jump down.  Inside, there was a switch to change the speed of the rotors in another room, so I’m glad I hit this first.  We found a Jiggy at the very top of the ship, then jumped down the rest of the pipes on deck to see if there was anything below.  A few more Notes and a Jinjo later, and we’ve explored all the pipes, too.  I seem to be running out of places to look, but I notice a door in the bottom of one of the smoke stacks, and Beak Bash it open to find some more unexplored territory.


The guts of the ship. Oh, and did I mention that’s a bottomless pit beneath us?

Inside is the engine of the ship, and the reason I hit that propeller switch earlier.  Several sets of rotors and spinning platforms are all over this area, but I navigate through them an score my third Jiggy, along with another bunch of Notes.  Over 80 Notes now, but not even half the Jiggys.  Another switch reveals a Jiggy outside the ship on the other side of the engine (which will be a gigantic pain to get to), and I’m pretty sure a dolphin that we saw earlier, trapped by the anchor, has one.  We hit another propeller switch, and the engine stops completely… for a set time period.  Luckily, we have everything in this area, so we boot it out of the engine room and to the back of the boat, grabbing the Jiggy with seconds to spare.


I wonder if there’s an area that tells you what switches to hit? I just guessed and got lucky.

Trail and error net me my fifth Jiggy at the top of the ship, with a code-entry puzzle involving steam horns.  Every mistake costs a life point, but a few lucky guesses net me the proper combination and we claim the prize.  The angle also affords me a new view of a crane from earlier, and I see how I can use the ladder on it’s side to claim grab another Jiggy that’s been sitting in front of me for a while.  There’s still one area that I can’t seem to get to, but I’ll look for a way to move the anchor in the interim.

Some more poking around revealed that some of the portholes on the side of the ship were also breakable, so we explored another couple of rooms, nabbed ourselves another Jiggy and a Stop’n’Swap Egg, as well as some of the last of the Notes kicking around the level.  Some random exploring sticks me to a rope near the top of the ship, which I climb up to access the crane I’ve been missing.  From here, I can access the last Jinjo and it’s Jiggy, as well as a few more Notes, and I can open up the last area of the level.  Woot!


It’s a boss-in-a-box. Well, a bunch of them, I guess.

It’s a boss! Luckily, this box is kind of a pushover.  Three hits is all he takes before he splinters into two smaller boxes, which split into smaller boxes, etc.  It’s a little frantic, but we clear out all of the bits, and claim our ninth Jiggy!  But where’s the last one?  How do I help that dolphin?  And where are the four Notes that I’m still missing?  We continue to poke around the level, and although I think I’m looking for a Flight Pad, we end up finding the Grunty Switch for the level, so we’ll collect that Jiggy when we get back to the hub world.

I swam around the dolphin for a bit, and finally found that we could go inside the ship through the anchor hole.  Inside were a couple enemies, the last four Notes (that’s all 100 of them!), and a switch to bring up the anchor.  The dolphin leaves behind the last Jiggy, so we grab it and exit out of this awful level!  Finally!

We pick up the Jiggy from the Grunty Switch is Rusty Bucket Bay, and with the 33 Pieces we still have, we should have no problem unlocking another level… if we can find the platform.  Luckily, I unlocked a Note Door earlier right near here, but didn’t explore it too deeply.  Guess it’s time to do so!  It leads into a meadowed area, with the entrance to Click Clock Wood at the top.  We hit a switch to activate the Puzzle Platform needed to unlock the level, but it’s back at the beginning of the hub world.  Ugh.  Well, a couple of Cauldron teleports take us back to the beginning and we push the pieces into place, before teleporting back to the same room we were just in, now housing the entrance to the final(?) world.



YEA, one of the premier platformers of the generation!

Since I seem to be on a Rare(ware) kick, and still need to clear one more thing off of my backlog, I’m gonna pick Banjo-Kazooie back up and finish it off.  It’s been a while since I’ve played, but I know I’m already fairly far.  The game states I have 63 Jigsaws and 600 Notes, and tells me I’ve maxed out 5 of the 6 Worlds I have access to, missing 1 Jigsaw in Freezeezy Peak.  Let’s head there first and grab the one we’re missing!

Since I can’t remember any of the moves, or where to go, I ran around the overworld for a while getting my bearings, and figuring out why my Jigsaw total is wrong.  I forgot that you spend Jigsaw Pieces to unlock worlds, so 31 is my Jigsaw total, minus the ones I’ve spent to unlock various worlds.  It’s all making sense now, but I’m still missing a few!  I managed to find Grunty’s sister again, and confirmed the following about our evil hag opponent:

  • She wears a Flea Circus under her girdle
  • She brushes her teeth with Moudly Cheese-flavoured toothpaste
  • She washes her hair with rancid milk
  • She gets her clothes from Saggy Maggie’s Boutique
  • She was called Jelly Belly at school
  • Her favourite sport is Belly Barging
  • She attended St. Dungballs’s School
  • Her party trick is blowing up balloons with her butt
  • She sleeps in a dumpster
  • She won the biggest butt competition
  • She posed in her longjohns of the cover of Fat Hag Monthly
  • Her bedroom has smelly socks hanging from the ceiling
  • She has a loogie bush growing in a pot beside her bed
  • She has enormous streaky brown undies
  • She keeps a Dragon’s Foot in her pocket for luck
  • She cuddles her dirty undies in bed at night
  • Her broom is a Lardmaster 2000
  • She has rat bagels for breakfast
  • And dog dung burgers for dinner
  • Finishing with cockroaches and cream for desert
  • Her favourite pastime is flying radio-controlled bats
  • Greasy Grant was her first and only boyfriend
  • She used to have a greasy warthog for a pet

These will all factor in to a mini-game later, but for now they’re just fun lore.  I also found the Picture for Click Clock Wood, but no Jigsaw Platform to use in order to unlock it.  What the hell, Rare?  I eventually found my way to Freezeezy Peak, and searched around for the missing Jiggy.  It wasn’t too long before I found the Walrus at the start of the race section again.  He wanted another race, and it looked like I needed the Running Shoes ability in order to beat him.  Luckily, I picked that up in the last level, so after grabbing the Running Shoes we handily beat him in a race and collected the final Jiggy for this level.  Now I guess it’s back to figuring out where to go next?


Freezeezy Peak is COLD!

After pressing on past Freezeezy Peak, we ended up inside a volcano which contained the Puzzle for Gobi’s Valley.  I’ve already unlocked and beaten that one, so I guess we keep going?  I found a suspicious-looking graveyard area just beyond the Puzzle, but no open doors, so we headed back into the volcano and headed deeper into it, looking for the next Puzzle.  I hit a dead end, blocked by a tunnel that was too small for Banjo to fit through, so we headed back.  In the area prior to the volcano, I found a couple teleport cauldrons that hadn’t been activated yet and activated them, and also found a Note Door, asking for 450 Notes.  Luckily, I’ve got 600, so we pass through the door and head through a few small areas connected by underwater tunnels.  At the end, we finally find the Puzzle for Mad Monster Mansion, and throw some Jiggies at it to activate it.


Alright, next world unlocked!

We head back to the suspicious graveyard, which holds the entrance to the latest world, Mad Monster Mansion.  We’re greeted by a large, dilapidated house as we arrive in the level.  Some initial recon around the house give us a bunch of Notes, and upon inspection I find that we can break lit-up windows and enter rooms in the house.  After plundering the various rooms for a number of Notes, and a couple of Jinjos, we head through the Chimney and are confronted by a large green ghost… who’s sleeping on a Jiggy and a Flight pad.  We take care to maneuver to not touch the floor as we head to him, and we’re rewarded with our first Jiggy of the level, and a third of the notes already.

There was big hedge maze to our left as we entered the world, but I also remember seeing a cellar behind the house.  Leave no stone unturned and all that, so we head around back into the cellar.  There’s a ghost and a few Notes, but we also find another Stop’n’Swap Egg, a Jinjo, and another Jiggy hiding inside various barrels once we crack them open.  In a courtyard to the right of the haunted house, there a few Notes and another Jinjo, and behind the house there’s a strange shack with light coming out of it.  We collect the Notes from on top, then bash in the door and head inside.


Video Game Rule #3: Always check inside barrels

Inside, there’s a picture of Banjo and Kazooie on the floor, and a Jiggy in the center with what looks like an upside-down shot glass over top of it.  Around the border of the picture are a number of tiles, some with Grunty’s face, others with letters.  The shot glass talks to us and tells us it’s a puzzle, and when we jump on top of it a ghost appears.  At this point, we can surf around with the shot glass, and it looks like there’s enough letters on the tiles to spell BANJO KAZOOIE, so we surf around and light up the tiles to spell it out, avoiding the ghost.  We claim another Jiggy, and exit this shed.


Whatever drinking game this is modeled after, I like it!

Heading past the shed, we note another locked gate on our way and eventually end up at a well.  We grab the Notes and powerups from around the well before jumping in.  We collect another Jiggy and a bunch of Notes from inside before jumping out and heading back to the hedge maze from the beginning of the level.  Inside the maze, we find the last Jinjo (and the resulting Jiggy), as well as a few Notes and powerups, although we’re again blocked by a gate preventing us from exiting into another area.  Need to figure out how to unlock these.


Those ghosts are damn hard to avoid, too.

The maze is still kind of a dead end, with another gate blocking us from getting into another area with a large church and graveyard.  We find another way across from the roof of the haunted house, and collect the Notes on the roof of the church, as well as the Jiggy from the spire on top.  There are a bunch of pots in the graveyard, too, and once we drop some eggs into them, flowers bloom.  Of course, once we get flowers in all the pots we’re given another Jiggy.

There’s also access to one of Mumbo’s huts, so we jump in there and have him turn us into the new animal for this level.  It costs us 20 tokens, but he turns us into a… pumpkin?  The pumpkin form allows us to fit through tiny passages, and I think we’re supposed to use it inside of the haunted house… except that I lost a life somewhere, and all of the windows aren’t broken anymore.  Grr.  We do find a small drainpipe that we can fit down on the roof’s gutters, though, and it drops us onto another Jiggy and a few Notes in a small area I noticed.


Cutest pumpkin EVAR!

So we’re down to our last Jiggy, and I know exactly where it is.  It’s inside the church, but I’m not sure how to get in.  There’s a switch that opens the door for a limited time, and a pair of Running Shoes to get me there, but these gates are still in my way, and I’m stuck on getting rid of them.  That’s until, cursing myself for a fool, I try attacking one and knock it open.  Turns out there’s a lock on one side of the door, and if you attack the locked side it’ll open.  I’ve been doing this level the long way all along.  Kill me now.  In any case, I hit the switch, grab the Shoes, and dash into the church.


Seriously, worst organ player ever. Have some enthusiasm!

Inside, it was a giant-sized church, with ghosts haunting and a disembodied hand playing a tone-deaf organ.  After collecting the notes ,we talked to the hand and had to follow him along the keyboard, stomping the keys he played.  This was no game of Simon, though, we just followed him along and stomped the keys right after he finished playing.  We’re rewarded with our final Jiggy for the level, and after grabbing the last 4 Notes, we were clear and moving on!



Halo 4 is the latest game in the venerable Halo series, the flagship franchise from Microsoft’s Xbox consoles.  While Bungie Studios created and produced the original series, this latest iteration is produced by the relative newcomers at 343 Industries and marks the beginning of a the new Reclaimer trilogy in the Halo universe.  As a result, Halo 4 is almost a misnomer; with a new studio and new storyline direction, this Halo jettisons the Earth vs. Covenant trappings of previous games and start an entirely new story with only tenuous relation to the previous games.  Although it presents a solid game that doesn’t deviate much from previous entries, it’s deeper connection to the established Halo universe’s lore is both a blessing and a curse.

It’s Review Time!

Halo 4 (7) [Xbox 360]

Any Landing You Can Walk Away From: Okay so, we’re crashed.  This is the… third?… time this game that we’ve blacked out and woken up again.  Chief doesn’t need sleep!  He gets knocked out a lot.


But… but…

Anyway, we’re on a UNSC space station (which happens to be orbiting a Halo) which is where the Composer is being kept and/or studied.  As we hit the landing bay we’re awakened by a Dr. Tilson, who was broadcasting the mayday earlier.  She lets us know that the Covenant have overrun the station, and locked down all the shuttle and evac bays.  We’ll take care of that, and she can work on getting all the personnel to evacuate.  We press through into the main loading bay, and proceed to clear out section after section, with no help from the lab coats running around.  Sigh.  After we eliminated all of the enemies, we headed towards Dr. Tilson to collect her, facing the usual assortment of enemies (and a couple Hunters).  We establish that it took a really big starship to tow the Composer, so it’s not just a little device we can pocket.  And since we can’t steal it, we’re gonna blow it up. Dr. Tilson doesn’t like this plan, but resignedly agrees and displays human emotions.

The Composer: As we head towards the shuttle bays, we’re informed that the Covenant have destroyed that first evacuation shuttle as it left the station.  We need to find the central defence system so Cortana can use it to cover the evac shuttles.  We hit a shuttle bay that the Covenant were using to push troops into the base, but after killing a few airlock-loads, I realized I could just re-0pen the airlocks with the Covenant inside them.  Buh-bye.  We made it to the defence grid, and Cortana got it up and running to defend our evac ships.  We got word to Dr. Tilson, and went to meet her at the Composer so we could rig our bomb.


Boom, baby!

All Things Lost and Found: On our way there, we saw that Covenant forces had made it through to the Composer’s location, and it was certain they’d informed the Didact.  Cue sense of urgency.  We head into the Composer’s… cavern?… and hop into a Mantis.  Yay!  A this point, the name of the game is ‘repel all boarders’, so we basically just get to ride around in this thing and kill everything.  Enemies, vehicles, ships, you name it.  If it’s Covenant, it dies.  After we destroy a number of them, they beat a hasty retreat, and we head back in to meet with Tilson and the nuke.

While we’re heading back up, an explosion rocks the carven and blows the roof off.  The Didact’s ship locks the Composer in a tractor beam, and sucks it back into the ship proper.  I thought this Composer thing was too big to move!  We don’t know how he did it, but he’s got it now, and we’ve got to stop him.  We meet up with the remaining staff to commandeer a ship, but the Didact unleashes the Composer on the station, and ‘digitizes’ (which looks a lot like vaporising) them all.  Master Chief is knocked unconscious (again), but wakes up later with Cortana.  Everyone else on the station is dead.  Cortana theorizes that whatever the Librarian did to us made us resistant to the Composer, but it’s sure not going to help everyone on Earth if he gets there.  We hop into a little Broadsword ship and pursue his big ‘ol starship, hovering inside his shields when he heads through slipspace.


“Slippy, come back here!”

One Last Shot: Hey, we’re still in the Broadsword!  In a scene straight out of the Death Star run, we’re flying StarFox style through a narrow canyon on the ship.  The Didact’s all weirded out that we survived his little Composer blast, and Cortana locates him at the Composer.  Well, if they’re both there, and I have a ship, let’s go meet them!  This run is more about avoiding walls than shooting things.  It’s mostly turrets, but the ships hull keeps moving around in random ways, so the focus is on piloting and finding the best route.  We start to hear radio chatter from Earth as well, since the Planetary Defence systems aren’t doing crap against the Didact’s ship.  We hail the Infinity, get Lasky on the line, and let him know that we have a nuke strapped to this Broadsword.  A +1 Broadsword, if you will, where 1 equals nuclear ordinance.  They’ll cover us, while we go in and destroy this thing.

From the Cradle: We squeeze through the last of the tunnels in and around the hull (I dunno why there are tunnels on the hull), the Didact slaps a force shield around our entrance to the Composer.  The Infinity might be able to punch through, but we have to clear out these guns.  “Not so fast, Star Fox…”  All-range mode!  We just have to dodge some turrets, blow up a few energy fields.  It’s all pretty easy, unfortunately, since the flying’s kinda fun.  I would’ve put a squadron or two of fighters to play against as well, but no suck luck.  Once we take out the guns, Infinity punches a hole in the hull, and we fly in to deliver the payload.  Unfortunately, the ‘tunnel’ we punched is collapsing, and you guessed it, we’re shuttered and crash.  Knocked out again?  Maybe just a little rattled.  Looks like we go on foot from here.

…To The Grave: Yea, let’s walk around with a nuke strapped to our butt!  Plan B is awesome!  We shoot our way through the ship, while Cortana looks for the best placement for the nuke.  We hit a porta transportation system like on Requiem, and we plug Cortana in so she can warp us to the Composer.  The Didact notices something odd about her, but we don’t have time to worry about it.  Cortana can’t exert proper control over the system, so we keep making short jumps from area to area via portal, and blasting through the opposition.  We end up in what seems to be an armory, and that bodes pretty well for end-game anticipation.  We jumped through a few more portals, beat down a bunch more Prometheans, and finally made it to the Composer.


Saved ya again!

Old Friends: We jump into a gravity conveyor, and are sent flying to the Composer.  The Didact has put some kind of shield up, so now we have to run around to a few terminals and take down the shield.  Cortana decides the best way to do that is to offload her Rampancy spikes into the system, so basically making her crazy contagious.  We plow through the enemies and hit a couple terminals, and Cortana’s crazy manages to break through the shield.  Once the shield is down, we head for the Composer and Didact with our nuke, and go through the endgame sequence. YAY!

Looks like we’re all done!  Review incoming soon!


Halo 4 (6) [Xbox 360]

Change of Plans: Looks like those two towers we activated earlier aren’t going to be enough.  We have to hit the main control space for these spires, and we’re gonna use them to trap the Didact’s ship so we can take it out.  We pilot our (boring) Pelican to a third area, hop out, load up, and roll out.  We battle our way through a hallway, taking out Covenant and Promethean bad guys.  After hopping up a few floors, we continue forward.  It’s most just killing and dodging at this point, with hoards of enemies throwing themselves at me to stop an objective.  Solid Snake would be ashamed.  We took out a couple Hunters (with some difficulty), and hopped up to the next area.

Halo4BansheeWoo, we get a Banshee!  This is way more satisfying then the Pelican, in terms of flying and shooting.  We tore through the area, taking out standing guns and Covenant by the boatload, until I realized we could just skip the whole thing.  So we left some alive, no big deal.  We flew to the exit, went through a few ‘loading’ zones, and got to the next cutscene.  We plugged Cortana into the console, and she managed to contain the Didact’s ship… until she started going crazy again.  Listen Cortana, you had ONE job!  But no, a crisis of conscience laced with schizophrenia punks our plans to stop this guy, and he manages to get off-planet.  We need to follow them, so we jump out of the tower and land on one of his fleet ships, and tuck under a wing for a journey through slip-space.

Once we emerge, we see that we’re near another Halo (they’re just all over the place, aren’t they?) with a UNSC base orbiting it.  It seems like the humans have taken the Composer from the Halo, and are studying it on this base.  The Didact wants it, so naturally he’s launched an assault on the base.  We manage to get inside the ship we’ve been riding on top of, and after ‘dealing with’ the crew Cortana opens a communications line.  Yup, seems like the bad guys are already here, and not only can the scientists not evacuate the station, no one is supposed to know about the Composer.  Cortana decides this is the perfect time to go full ‘Sybil’, and crashes our ship into a loading bay.  I’ll never understand women!


The Gravity of the Situation:  So we exit the portal, and are dropped at the edge of a battle.  UNSC is fighting Covenant.  Wait, what are we doing again?  Right, we’re after that gravity well.  I got so caught up in all that massive backstory dump (which actually wasn’t massive enough), I completely forgot what our actual objective is.  But hey, in a UNSC vs. Covenant fight, I know which side I’m on.  We pop into an abandoned (and heavily damaged) Scorpion tank, and take out a bunch of  Ghosts, before taking down another couple of force field generators.  So yea, exactly where we left off kinda.

Once the force field was down, it was a simple matter of walking forward, picking up the target designator, and ‘shooting’ the gravity well.  Once the Infinity was finished with it, it was so much scrap.  I guess this means we can get off-planet now? Nope, it means we are getting off-planet now.  Apparently General/Captain/Commander-dude of the Infinity wants to high-tail it home, ’cause his widdle ship has some boo-boos.  Also, he thinks that Cortana and Chief are crazy.  Like, more crazy than Cortana actually is at this point.  Delusional.  Hallucinating.  That’s a lot of crazy.


Clearly a douchebag because the story calls for one.

I just wanna take a side note for two things: for one, I want to give props to the facial animation team again.  It’s no Heavy Rain, but it’s a damn sight better than Assassin’s Creed 3 was.  Secondly, this character, this general guy?  Biggest ham ever.  Clearly an authority archetype, possessing all the ‘by-the-books chief-of-police’ from every bad-boy-cop movie ever made.  Quick to anger.  Rash decision-making. Quick to take offence.  Infers that his authority is being challenged immediately.  And really?  This older captain, who’s clearly been in the military for a while, rescues this extremely capable war-hero (three times over!) and who everyone thought was dead?  In previous Halo games, I don’t remember a lot of shade being thrown at Master Chief.  But this guy does. Probably only ’cause he’s providing a convenient chance for the bad guy to make good his escape, and imposing some kind of non-time limit on the rest of the game.  And giving us a chance to see Master Chief be the cool bad-boy-cop. Subtle.

So yea.  Captain says go, Chief says stay.  Captain says go, Chief says stay. Captains says you’re crazy, eff you, I’m a Captain.  Chief infers that you’re a jerk.  Cortana say YOU CAN’T GO I’LL CRY!  I think they’re all crazy.  Chief says we’re gonna hang out here and try and take down Didact, and ‘we’ means Cortana’s coming with.  Captain says Cortana’s going nowhere with you, mister, who do you think you are?  Chief says MASTER CHIEF BITCH and punches him in the FACE!  (That actually doesn’t happen, but I was hoping it would).  Anyways, blah-blah, Chief stands up to authority and Captain’s not happy and we gotta beat this game.  Lasky’s cool and he’s got our back.  Dude even scored us a Pelican.

Halo4PelicanOnce More Unto the Breach: Wait, we get to fly the Pelican?  Okay, I can deal with that.  Flying vehicles are usually my favourite of the mandatory Halo-vehicle-sequences, and the space sequence from Reach was awesome.  Unfortunately, this is not that cool.  In fact, it might even be one of the least cool flying sequences in the series.  That makes me sad.  It’s pretty much a standard Halo level, though.  Hop in your ship, fly over to a precarious ledge, disembark, and kill a lot of bad guys while making your way towards a button or something ridiculous down a long hallway.  Activate said ridiculous thing, make way back to ship. Repeat.  The two areas we had to conquer were different, and that was kinda nice.  The first was more ‘plow’ (long path, lots of enemies), the second was more ‘precise’ (multiple smaller groups of enemies/objectives), although neither were particularly special. I did appreciate the attempt to mix it up some.  Also, the Didact seems to be in Chief’s brain.  He keeps talking to us, running a villain monologue, but Cortana can’t hear him.  Maybe because she’s a hologram?  Who knows.


Halo 4 (4) [Xbox 360]

Size Matters: For some reason, I find this title to be unsuprising.  So, we’re heading to take out the guns so we can destroy the gravity well mechanism and escape the planet.  I thought this was going to be a little more groundwork, but instead we’re given a big mobile gunship/tank/fortress-thing.  Woo, missiles!  A few Pelicans were sent in with us equipped with target designators, so the Infinity can use her big guns and finish this little sortie up.  Only problem is, one of the Pelicans got cocky, and managed to get all of the blasted out of the air by the very guns we’re supposed to be taking down.  Nice.  Thanks, Pelicans.

Our mobile fortress rolls along, and we get word that at least one of the Pelicans has a surviving crew member, and their target designators are still good.  Chief’s sent out to collect the equipment so we can get this attack back on plan.  After picking up a Ghost and running through a barrage of Covenant (no Promethans around yet), we acquired the target designator and used it to destroy the main cannon.  After we returned to our Mammoth, we manned the rockets again and took out a bunch of Wraiths and gunships before coming across a large forcefield.  Once again, we’ll need to get out there and take down those generators on foot.

Wow, it is just impossible to take out a Phantom with a Ghost any more.  I tried and tried and tried, and finally I just avoided it all together. We’re not getting scored for kills.  After we took down the generators, we headed to a long pass where we were beset by Dropships, Phantoms, Ghosts, you name it.  We got to hop in a new Warthog with a big plasma cannon (!!) mounted on the back so that turned into some fun.  We managed to hijack a dropship and sabotage the engine, sending it crashing into the distance, but in the process of all this, our poor widdle Mammoth is in pretty bad shape.  After encountering a block in the road, it’s back onto foot, and we’re going in alone.

We attack the particle cannon’s compound, all by our lonesome against a whole crapload of enemies of assorted flavours.  Before we leave the Mammoth though, they have a nice little going away present for us: a sniper rifle, and lots of ammo.  So, it’s going to be that kind of mission, is it?  Good stuff, that’s my favourite!  We spent the next few minutes crawling through various areas, climbing and ducking to pick off enemies and avoid fire.  We had to dump the sniper thing halfway through due to lack of ammo, but retained a slow cover-and-fire progression throughout the compound.

Once we get inside, we’re cut off from the Infinity.  We managed to get a set of coordinates from them, but can’t hear a word they say.  We busted into the Forerunner structure, and were led to the particle cannon controls by a bunch of Sentinals.  Oh look, help to find our objective.  How suspiciously convenient.  Chief and Cortana say something to the same effect.  Once we hit the main terminal, we plugged Cortana in and she managed to take the guns offline, before disappearing from the system!

This lady looks like a prophecy-giver. I’d trust her.

We ‘chased’ her, that is, followed another Sentinal to another room.  In that room, we met The Librarian, the counterpart good Forerunner to the Didact’s bad guy Forerunner.  Apparently there’s a lot of history behind these games, but I didn’t catch most of it.  Something about the Forerunners, and the Didact in particular, fighting with mankind for a 1000 years?  When? And now he’s looking for The Composer, a device that lets biological things become digital, but not vice-versa.  That’s what the Prometheans are, too, humans who had been converted by The Composer.  And now he’s looking for it again, but we’re here to stop him, ’cause we’e the results of a thousand lifetimes of planning.  But we’re not quite bad-ass enough yet, so the Librarian has to speed up the Chief’s evolution so he goes through Chosen-One-Puberty or something.

Anyway, everyone’s under attack, and we grabbed Cortana before hopping out through a Portal, and that’s where we’re stopping tonight.

Halo 4 (3) [Xbox 360]

A Star to Steer By: We found a Cartographer in a temple on the planet, hoping that we could use it to trace the location of a signal from an Earth ship that we kept hearing.  After booting it back up, and killing a bunch of Covenant, the Cartographer seemed to think that the Earth ship, Infinity, was… below us?  Cortana found a teleporter deeper in the temple that would send us to the planet’s core, so I guess this means the big shielded planet is also hollow.  Great.  Also, I gleaned from conversation with Cortana that the planet was called ‘Requiem’.  How did she find that out?  Just another example of the lack of back-story this game is giving.

The Gateway: After fighting our way towards the teleport console, we saw the Sentinels on the planet were also opposing the Covenant forces (including a couple of big Hunters.  Oh joy), trying to prevent them from accessing the tower.  We took care of them, and headed up to the top of the tower.  Once Cortana was loaded in (it’s good to know that in the future, universal port standards will become truly Universal), she confirmed that the human ship Infinity was in/around the planet.  Suddenly, creatures started sprouting from the tops of pillars around the room, brandishing weapons and being menacing.  Probably not good guys, but they don’t actually fire any shots at us.  Cortana can’t get the portal to open, but at the last second one opens of it’s own accord.  Cortana doesn’t know why, but let’s get the crap out of here, right?

Buried and Forgotten: Once we get to the core, we realize that the Infinity isn’t there.  Instead, there’s a large energy mass at the core that’s acting like a satellite, bouncing the transmission around and amplifying it.  Maybe we can use it to contact them back?  Sure, our AI can swing that… except we’ll have to shut down two ‘antennas’, to stop the bouncing and get a clear signal.  We can’t port all the way there, but we can port to the outskirts, which will give us plenty of time to be ambushed by the enemy.  Those guys from the portal room?  They’re back, they’re some kind of AI that comes in a number of different flavours (including scary alien, windsurfing alien, and alien panther), and they don’t like us.  Meet the Prometheans, who are kind of cool as a change from the whole Covenant/Flood thing.  They have their own weapons too!  Except that it’s just more of the same, dressed up differently.  But they can reload, so that’s an advantage over some Covenant weapons.

As we shut down the first beam ‘antenna’, we managed to finally get a clear listen to Infinity.  It seems as though they’re responding to the distress beacon from Forward Unto Dawn, which was pulled into Requiem with us.  If they come too close they’ll get pulled into the planet’s gravity well, just like we were, and then none of us will ever get out.  Of course, even though we can hear them clearly, we can’t get a signal out unless we take down the other beam.  Into the next portal and off we go!

Enemy of My Enemy: As we warped back to the main teleport console, a number of Covenant ships came in at the same time.  It looks like they’re heading to the same place we are, the beam generator, although we’re not sure what they want from it.  Portaling to the next beam area, we find Covenant and Promethean forces engaged in battle… with each other!  Sweet!  I’ll just stand back here and watch them kill each other.  Oh, they won’t do that?  They’ll just keep each other busy, but as soon as I’m close enough they’ll both turn on me?  Great.  Blasted through both sets of forces, picked up a Ghost, and plowed my way to the control panel for the beam.  The Infinity is heading straight for us, and but they can’t hear our instructions to turn back!  This is gonna be close, and of course, our built-in transmitter isn’t strong enough.  We port to the main satellite point, again racing the Covenant and still having no idea what they want with a broadcast point.

Almost Home: We battled our way through the satellite point, helped along greatly by large stores of Promethean weapons tucked all over the place.  Life is good when you’ve got ammo.  Once we got to the heart of the broadcast station, we activated a console to transmit our message to the Infinity.  But it looks like we’ve activated something else.  An alien dropped out of a large cocoon (prison?) and revealed that he’s a Forerunner.  He’s called the Didact, although I only know that because it says so in his subtitles.  Cortana mentions it after, too, but how does she know who/what he is when he didn’t say anything?  Ugh!  What plot holes?  So Didact uses telekinesis or whatever to float Chief to him and give a big speech about how Humans are doomed ’cause now he’s back, bitches!  He also makes reference to a ‘Librarian’ whom we’ve yet to encounter, so let’s look forward to that.  After throwing us aside like a rag doll, he blows up a bunch of stuff and is gone when we wake up.

Next Stop, Certain Death: Once we wake up, Cortana notes that the whole core is ready to blow after the Didact start a reaction.  We grabbed a Ghost, she amped up the boosters, and we flew out of there.  It was actually kind of a fun sequence, though not particularly interactive, as the ground cracked and erupted in front of us and we poured on the juice to clear out of there.  Again at the last second, a portal opened up exactly where we were going to be and zapped us outside, where we saw the Infinity emerge from a cloudband.  They have no control and are heading in for a crash, with the Didact and Covenant close on their heels.

Infinity: We reached the Infinity and received a distress call from UNSC forces, reporting they’re under attack by hostile forces.  Covenant? Promeathan? Both.  They gonna fight each other again?  Nope, they’re working together now.  Great.  We’re in a big jungle area, with huge creeping vines and pretty textures.  As a side note, I love it when FPS games aren’t afraid to use colour, and the Halo series has been pretty good at that.  We battled through the requisite swarm of baddies, picked up a new ‘Promethean Vision’ suit hack which tags enemies through objects and renders the world in outline (and totally reminds me of the FarSight scope from Perfect Dark), got through the jungle, and met up with the UNSC group that was sending out the SOS.  Wow, facial animation looks good.  Nice going, 343.  They need a landing zone cleared, so they’ve requested our assistance.  Right tool for the job and all that.

Reunited: We hit the outside hard and fast, taking out both Covenant and Promethean forces as we fought our way towards a possible landing zone.  Troopers from the UNSC squad were with us, so the provided a good cover fire, and I sniped stuff off from the background.  Hey, it’s what I do.  Cortana also expresses disbelief that the two factions are working together now, as if she didn’t already see it happen earlier.  We eventually got to a cave system, with a large opening at the back we could use for a landing zone.  Once we put Cortana to work opening the doors, we had to hold off an enemy assault, and put up with the PMS’ing AI.  She’s getting cranky, raaaawwwww.  Sorry, I don’t mean to rush you.  Once we got into the caves it was just another clear run to the end, when we were informed that enemies had breached the Infinity’s bridge, and we were told to come in.  Weren’t we calling in the air drops for med-evac?  Not important, got aliens to kill!

The Gun Show: We arrived close to the Infinity and after a casual slaying of aliens, were pointed towards… a Scorpion! Yay!  Tank sequence!  Even managed to fill up my carry points!  Took out a small army of enemies, and eventually made our way to the Infinity.  Once inside, we cleared the loading bay and I was sent to the bridge to back up the defenders.

Shining Armor: They gave us a Mantis suit, a new addition to the series, that feels like I’m in Armored Core. But clunkier.  Basically a mecha to pilot, and not the giant variety.  We kicked up the heat, and headed through the ship.  A series of long hallways and many enemies awaited us, but with the hardware this mecha is packing, it wasn’t a problem.  We got rail guns, we got missiles, we even have a ‘melee’ move in case we get a crowd of fans.  It’s all very exciting.

Eviction Proceedings: We were advised that the Covenant had put some sort of jamming devices in place, and had paralysed the Infinity’s defence systems.  Big spaceship guns are usually a welcome addition, so let’s go fix that up, shall we? We headed for the outside of the ship, only to find our friend the Didact hovering around out there too, running scans and sifting through the Infinity’s databanks.  Well, if he’s right there… we quickly tore through the swarms of Covenant protecting the jamming devices and unleashed a barrage from the ships MAC guns, eliminating the Covenant presence and opening up an avenue to attack the Didact’s ship.  After a stream of hits from all guns, he skittered away, and Chief finally got to meet the man at the steering wheel of the Infinity.

He lets us know the plan is to destroy the gravity well so that Infinity can get back to Earth and report it’s findings, despite Chief’s feelings that they should stay and eliminate the threat of the Didact while they can.  We’re to lead a team of Spartans to take out the guns protecting the gravity well, so the Infinity can come in and destroy the device itself.

Halo 4 (2) [Xbox 360]

Ugh, I find it really difficult to write about FPS games.  But we’re making this a goal, so here we go.

Okay, so the first time I played, which is also the second time, we woke up still adrift in the Forward Unto Dawn.  According to Cortana, it’s been 4 years since Halo 3.  I can’t really remember Halo 3, didn’t leave a lasting impression, but I remember the truce with the Covenant while we all worked to take down the big-bad Flood dude.  And at the end, the ship blows up, and Chief’s on it, and we saw him floating in space, here.  So, for the characters in the game, Halo 4 is basically happening the day after Halo 3.  I get the feeling that’s important, since there’s been a real lack of backstory as if all this should be fresh in your mind.  Or maybe it’s just another Halo game, and who cares what happened last time?

Anyway, Cortana woke Chief up ’cause something was wrong, and we headed through the ship to determine the cause.  At one point, we were assaulted by a “high frequency scan” of the ship that sounded like nails on a chalkboard, industrial-style.  It was loud and not-nice sounding, so we took to mean there were enemies around (of some kind, I’m sure it’s nothing).  After some investigation, we discovered that there were Covenant on the ship, albeit more fanatical (whatever that means. How do you measure fanaticism?) then ones from previous games.  Blasting our way through them, we discovered we were in orbit around a Precursor world, with a huge Covenant fleet also waiting.  After a spacewalk (and by walk, I mean run’n’gun) across the outside of the Forward Unto Dawn, we launched a missile at one of the Covenant ships to take it down.  Immediately after, the planet scanned us again (oh, the planet is scanning us! That makes way more sense), opened up it’s big metal shield, and sucked the whole lot of us onto it’s surface.  The whole Covenant fleet, plus our scrap of ship, and Master Chief.  No escape pod (we did try!), not even a seatbelt, just Master Chief and re-entry.  They’ve done it before, right?

Once we’re on the ground, it’s definitely a Precursor world!  Maybe we’ll find some cool Precursor stuff.  Cortana is apparently past her prime, as well.  She lets us know that AI’s are put into service for 7 years, and after that they go crazy.  They call it Rampancy and it always happens after 7 years, except Cortana’s been online for 8, and she doesn’t feel that crazy.  Maybe we can fix her if we get back to Earth!  Let’s scour this dump for a way home, and take out a small army of Covenant in the process.  Sounds like a Halo game to me!