Beat a Halo game on Legendary difficulty: Completed
Time Spent: 6+ hours
Alcohol Consumed: Incalculable.
I've been playing Halo games ever since the first one came out way back in 2001. While most of Halo's success as a franchise is a result of its addictive multiplayer component, a lot of thought went into the story behind the games, too. So the first thing I typically do with a new Halo game is play through the campaign. The series is about future humanity's struggle against the Covenant, a theocratic alliance of alien races. Ancient technologies are discovered, uneasy alliances are made, lots of stuff gets exploded in the process, all good fun.
But just because I enjoy it doesn't mean I'm GOOD at it. So I knew if I was gonna finish this challenge and play through an entire campaign on Legendary difficulty, I would need some help.
I would need the best.
So I recruited Squad P. The best of the pretty good:
SCUBASTEVE5387, aka "PETE": The muscle. When all else fails, just hang back and let him do all the work. Then make fun of him when he inevitably eats it. Most likely to die with each hand holding a grenade down an Elite's throat and both legs knee-deep in various other alien orifices.
PIP7, aka "PIP": Can shoot the wings off a fly a mile away, as long as that fly is on the same team as him. Most likely to die in a hail of allied fire after "accidentally" bludgeoning several friendly soldiers to death with the butt of his rifle.
With these two on my side, surely I would be able to stumble my way through the entirety of the latest game in the series, Halo Reach, on Legendary.
Then someone suggested turning it into a drinking game, and all was lost.
We all had to take a half shot at the end of every stage or if we died ten times in one stage. If we died twenty times in the same stage, we took two half shots. Thirty times? Three half shots. Also, it wasn't a rule per se, but we all took a full shot whenever a member of the main character's squad, Noble Team, died in a heroic fashion (note: this is the only way anyone dies in Halo games).
The following is a brief breakdown of that night's events, reconstructed from fragmented memories and drunken notes.
STAGE 1: Every character in the game is very stern-looking. We have already been drinking. Everyone needs to lighten up.
A random Falcon flies overhead when someone calls for support over the headset. I look up and disable it with a plasma pistol I picked up off an Elite. It drops to the ground, but the game doesn't allow us to fly it ourselves, so we continue shooting it until it explodes.
PIP: Try to evac NOW, ********.
At the end of the stage you're supposed to use night vision and clear a building full of Covenant. Everything looks terrifying in night vision, so PIP and I spend a good amount of time shooting our allies while PETE finishes the mission.
STAGE 2: A UNSC Pelican flies overhead and drops a Warthog for our squad to use. PIP runs to the gunner seat to find a soldier already in it.
PETE: If you hit the X button he'll get out.
PIP: (beats the soldier to death) Oh.
STAGE 3: I don't remember this stage very well, and all I wrote down was the word "LATCHKEY!" five times and an expletive describing how good I was feeling. This was the first stage where we all had to take bonus shots on account of how many times we died, so that may be the reason.
It was also at this point we realized Jorge, the only Spartan-II on the team, appeared at the end of every level to drop some wisdom on us.
STAGE 4: The difficulty begins to ramp up, reflected in my sole note: "we are all going to die tonight."
STAGE 5: In this stage you storm a beach and make your way up to a launch facility, where you board Sabre fighter ships and continue the fight in space.
PIP boarded while PETE and I were scouring the facility for weapons, his triumphant cry of "I'M GOING TO SPACE WITHOUT YOU GUYS!" stifled once the game automatically placed us in our own Sabre fighters.
This level ended with us taking our first shot for a fallen comrade, as Jorge stays on the Covenant cruiser to detonate the bomb we placed there. He throws the player character, Noble 6, off the ship, where he sees dozens more cruisers materialize in orbit while he plummetS toward Reach's surface.
The proceedings grow more sombre.
STAGE 6: We watch the opening cinematic, in which Noble 6 makes his way toward a city center by himself.
PETE: He should just give up and kill everyone.
PIP: Everyone's probably dead, he should just go nuts.
DOUG: Cue dramatic music as Noble 6 draws his gun and makes his stealthy approach toward the elementary school.
STAGE 7 AND BEYOND: My notes stop here, other than a few poorly spelled lamentations and one hastily constructed will ("LUKE GETS MY WII AND EVERYONE ELSE GETS EVERYTHING ELSE"),
This was the point where we redacted the bonus-shots rules. We realized that if they were to stay in effect, one of us would have to go to the hospital, and the other two would be too drunk to take him.
In the end, we completed our mission...somehow. We said our goodbyes and did our shots for Kat, Jun, Carter, and Emile, as we fought in vain against the Covenant onslaught.
Noble 6 finished his job and opted to stay behind on Reach, to fight to the bitter ened against the alien invaders. The final stage is an endurance match, to see how many Covenant you can take out before you inevitably succumb.
At this point, PIP threw grenades at our feet.
PIP: NOW NOBODY'S GONNA BE A HERO!
CHALLENGE COMPLETE. My reward? 125 points toward my gamerscore, and a hangover. But more than that, a great time with my friends. The Halo series gets quite a bit of flak for being "derivative" or "casual" or any other number of angry words, but the fact is I've had more fun with friends with the Halo franchise over the last ten years than pretty much anything else, and this challenge was a reminder of that.
A reminder of that, and how much I should avoid vodka.
That's all the time I had for the 2010 challenges. It has certainly been an experience. From the bad (Tofu) to the good (everything not Tofu), I managed to cross quite a few items off my list.
Stay tuned for your regularly scheduled news and reviews, and I'll see you in 2011.