Last time, we were talking about the Best and Worst missions from Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2—the first two games of the Halo series released for the original Xbox more than a decade ago—as part of a homage during the release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection for Xbox One.
Since no one else on the staff has showed up to try taking the title of CultureMass’ biggest Halo fan out of my hands, it’s still my duty to talk about the titles that came up on the Xbox 360, and are part of the Master Chief Collection since—as implied—the have the iconic Spartan super soldier as the main character.
So let’s begin with the first one.
The first appearance of the series on the Xbox 360 took advantage of the console’s capabilities, and offered a complete new layer of detail. It’s really hard to look back on how the game looked in the previous Xbox console.
Unfortunately, not everything was great for all of us who were looking forward to “finish the fight” against the Covenant. Thanks to Xbox Live, the franchise became so entangled with its multiplayer component, that its single player campaign felt somewhat shorter and less inspired this time around (and I’ve already talked about tacked-on single player experiences before).
Also, now that the Elites made a pact with the humans, the Brutes (the vicious and terrifying new enemies being introduced in Halo 2) took the charge as the game’s main antagonists, and it became quite disappointing how they were dumbed down for this ride.
But more than just graphics the newer console was also capable of doing much more this time around, so Halo 3 expanded the scale of the battles being fought here, and my favorite became…
Best Mission: The Covenant
If you’ve read everything I’ve said so far, there are a couple of trends that accompany most of my favorite missions: vehicular battles and fighting along with allied units; this mission accomplishes spectacularly on both, as well as it offers some fine example of that pacing this game is well known for.
You start the mission accompanied by a couple of helljumpers, and the game keeps escalating from here on. You’ll be able to drive every UNSC vehicle as you move through and complete various objectives, including your first ride on a Hornet. A while later you’ll be also assisted by your Elite allies, taking you to another vehicular battle that leads you to fight against not one, but two Scarabs at the same time!
Finally, things will get really weird as the Flood charges alongside you in a final assault of what’s left of the Covenant. The last of the Brutes fight with the fierce of a cornered animal, you stop what the Covenant set in motion, and the Arbiter finally puts an end to the last of the Hierarchs.
Anytime I play this mission, I think of it as the last one because after this mission there’s…
Worst Mission(s): Cortana (and Halo)
I’m giving the Worst Halo 3 Mission prize to both missions here because I really need to talk about how bad it is to have these two missions at the end of the game. Cortana is obviously the biggest offender; it’s long, boring, and frustrating… everything bad I said about The Library in Halo CE applies here, except that the developer should have known better after the first two games.
But Halo—the game’s final mission—needs to be thrown in here too because, if the previous mission was insanely long and boring, this one’s insultingly short and tedious. This just isn’t the way you’re supposed to end a game. I know I wasn’t the only expecting a final battle against the Gravemind… I don’t care if my actions in these two missions caused its demise; I wanted to give the mutant talking plant a good beating! The brevity of this mission doesn’t do the rest of the game justice and almost undoes the brilliance that is Halo 3’s story.
Runner-up: The Ark
This mission was so close to be my favorite (as well as Tsavo Highway) that I had a really hard time deciding for just one (this is why I included a runner-up for each game). In this mission you are on the offense against the remains of the Covenant who are well garrisoned on the Forerunner’s Ark.
Everything I love from the series is right here: Huge battles, fighting alongside your UNSC comrades, and many many vehicles to ride on—including leading an armored battalion against everything the Covenant has to its disposal (Brute choppers, Hunters, Wraiths, Phantoms… everything falls apart against the Scorpion’s turret). Some of the most memorable moments of the game are found in here as well, the most impressive of all is when the UNSC frigate Forward Unto Dawn approaches the Ark’s atmosphere.
I remember not paying attention the first time I played this mission, and ended wondering “from where the hell did that come from?!”
I’ll better stop writing or I’ll end up changing my mind over this one.
And this is it, the current final game of the series. The first game being developed by 343 Industries, and the comeback of fans’ favorite Master Chief (because apparently, people got fed up of being introduced to actual characters, with face, personality and a tendency of showing some kind of feelings at some point on the game).
Yes, I was heavily disappointed in Halo 4, what could have been a new take on the Halo franchise, was set in utter familiarity of everything that was already overdone in previous entries. This is the only game I had to replay during the writing of this article in order to remember which missions stand up as part of the blurry experience.
So, here it is…
Best Mission: Reclaimer
While replaying Halo 4, my mind kept thinking “when am I going to get to that mission with the Mammoths?” Once I get to it, I knew I would be using this one to measure the rest of the them.
This mission has a lot to do, there’s plenty of action, there are a lot of vehicles to play with, and (more importantly) you’re riding the largest UNSC ground vehicle ever conceived: The Mammoth. This part of the game felt like Halo was having an arms race with Gears of War 2, since the Mammoths are way bigger than the derricks found in that game—which also happen to be bigger than the Elephant being introduced on Halo 3.
Beside riding the Mammoth, vehicular combat is huge in this one, at one moment of the mission you’re dropped right in the middle of a heavy vehicular clash and you’re expected to solve it. Also, this is the mission that solves most of the questions in regards of the plot of this title and what is to come.
Also, replaying this mission gave me a better impression of the tension between all the main characters in this game; Cortana totally losing it, Master Chief standing up to his beliefs, while other people trying to stay cool while Captain del Rio yells at everyone. Intense stuff.
Worst Mission: Shutdown
Let me tell you, it was hard to select just one worst mission. I had to go with Shutdown since it sums everything wrong with this game. This mission is several layers of boring. Even though you’re even given a Pelican Gunship—the largest vehicle you’re given to drive in any game—there’s nothing actually exciting to do with it (Halo: Reach’s New Alexandria mission did this much better).
Most of the action will actually take place in enclosed corridors as you fight both Covenant and Promethean foes, and that’s pretty much it. I mean… this is everything you’d expect out of a Halo game, but is it too much to ask for something else this late in the series?
Runner up: Midnight
The final mission on Halo 4 starts with you flying a UNSC Broadsword in a setting that takes some cues from the Death Star Trenches from Star Wars (if it had moving walls and less accurate enemies), and then you’re taken into a more open battle that (if you know what you’re supposed to do) you can beat in matter of seconds!
Once Master Chief finds his way into the Didact’s ship, you are taken to another set of corridors where you’ll be fighting more enemies until you get to the end, where you’ll confront the game’s villain. Don’t worry, you won’t have problems against him since the game will take care of everything with a quick-time event and a cutscene. (What happened to our videogames these days?)
Oh, wait… wasn’t I supposed to talk good things about this mission? Well, the flying section is exciting, and the visuals are amazing; it could’ve done much better, but at least it did something different for a change. The rest of the mission—while repetitive—offers some challenge, and it took me some time beating it even during my second time playing it.
And what about the other Halo games…?
I’m happy you’re asking that!
Right now, my intent was to cover the games included in the Master Chief Collection, but of course there are good (and bad) things to say about the games that didn’t have a Master Chief on their cover. So, meet me up next time, when we’ll talk about Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach.
Did you disagree on the missions I mentioned in this article? You possibly did, let us know in the comments!