When winter rolls around, Kara gets an itch to play World of Warcraft that invariably ends up dragging others in. We popped in for a little bit yesterday to make sure all the accounts had gotten hooked back up, and… the experience was absolutely bewildering.
I think I’m caught up in Halo’s co-op campaign now. They call it “Spartan Ops,” but whenever a new episode comes out it is called “Halo: Infinity,” which is almost certainly its actual name. Infinity isn’t purely euphemistic; this seems like one of those cases where the Code name gets applied to the Final Product. It’s meant to describe a Halo experience which does not end.
Conceptually, this is the new Firefight; it’s Narrative and not Horde based, ostensibly the “waves” have some particular purpose, but there you have it. It’s a testament to the quality of what is termed “The Halo Sandbox” that there are many interesting fights to be had in the oft repeated, set-like maps they have arranged for your battles. I say this because you see those maps a lot. They even repurpose multiplayer maps toward this end.
The best part about them is the Episode that accompanies each week’s missions. These are no joke: they’re well written, they’re well made, and they’re doing the sequel to the main campaign right here in front of you. Jennifer Hale is fucking killing it as Commander Sarah Palmer, in the eps and in the main story, but Palmer in the actual missions is mostly just barks with a kind of character “veneer” implied; there’s no room for her to breathe in the mission structure, which is sad.
I suspect that may be why the story is largely front-loaded here: either because it’s hard to make time for story in them, or they’re deliberately going for some kind of two-tier theater where each part of the Halo audience can get what it wants. Now that they have shown that they’re perfectly willing to push a story that caters almost exclusively to the Halo Cultist, they have to make sure there’s still a way in for everyone else.
It doesn’t hurt that Spartan Ops is far and away the best XP you can get, particularly if you have stolen or found Double XP codes; I say stolen or found as opposed to eaten or drunk because I’m not sure that either Doritos or Mountain Dew consist of any digestible materials. Indeed, when consumed together I strongly suspect they act like a two-part epoxy in the colon. Regular Spartan Ops games, joined via matchmaking for the currently available episode, net you around five thousand experience per match. If you aren’t Kiko, this is a much faster way to level up. With the aforementioned codes, you’re getting something like ten thousand a piece. It’s at least semi if not completely loco, and a reason to dig through recycling bins if nothing else. Watch out for the glass and rats.