Extra Marines in the grav-lift battle

Posted January 21st 2007

Fancy fighting the grav-lift battle with ten Marines instead of the usual five? Fellow cyborg Two Finger clued me in on how to get reinforcements there even though you've actually still got Marines from earlier. I'd previously noticed sometimes getting an extra bunch of bozos, but had never got around to investigating why it happened. Ten Marines can give the covies a much rougher time of things, which I'm generally in favour of. So let's do it! Thanks also go to Simpsons Rule, whose HBO message helped me refine my account.

The method

First you need to deal with the few Elites and Grunts in the passage to the grav-lift area. Lure them out to do that, as you don't want to alert the enemies beyond. Well, not much chance of that - I reckon they must all be deaf!

Cloaked with the active camouflage, head into the grav-lift area, hopefully getting a handy battle start checkpoint as you go in. Crucially the enemy there haven't been alerted yet, so the Marines stay back in the passage as you do your stuff, stealthily bashing in covie skulls. You can potentially do some sniping and grenading too, as long as you don't get spotted. When you advance sufficiently far into the area (maybe on low ground, maybe on high ground), Cortana calls for reinforcements (regardless of how many enemies are left), presumably because you're now deep into enemy territory but with no Marines in immediate support. I suspect this is actually a slight flaw in the game logic, as if the programming has neglected to consider that you might still have Marines waiting just outside. Anyway, let's not look a gift-horse in the mouth. Another five leather-necks will do very nicely thanks!

When the Pelican comes in, the enemy is alerted and your waiting Marines finally advance. Within seconds, you've potentially got ten Marines linked up in a nice swarm.

Checkpoint issues

If you're planning on repeated play, you'll want a handy battle start checkpoint to be able to revert to. There are two checkpoints associated with the passage into the area. There's an outer checkpoint triggered as you near the entrance, and an inner one triggered a few metres in, where a ground light projects brightly up onto the left passage wall. The inner one will be convenient as a battle start checkpoint. So, avoid triggering it when dealing with the passage enemies; don't go in too far. My usual method is to advance until I get the outer checkpoint, then fire a shot to lure the enemies out. I then back off and let them waltz into plasma fire. It's good if you've still got the medkit available in the previous area, in case you take any damage here.

Later on, the grav-lift battle is interrupted by a checkpoint a few seconds after you've wiped out the last of the main waves, of which there are eight on Legendary, and four otherwise. That's just before the arrival of the Hunters. I wish Bungie wouldn't put checkpoints in the middle of a battle like that, because you then lose the ability to revert to the start. It's inconvenient for repeated play. So if you want to revert for the main part of the battle all over again, do it quick before you get the Hunter checkpoint.

Incidentally, each of the main waves seems to comprise 1 Elite, 2 Jackals and 3 Grunts. On Legendary that means you've got 48 enemies to get through! Quite a marathon, and quite a strain on your reserves of sniper ammo if that's what you're basing your defence on. It seems odd that Heroic only has four waves; I would've thought six would be more appropriate.

Bringing healthy Marines to the party

Ideally you'll want to be approaching the grav-lift area with five healthy Marines. With careful play, it's possible to keep your original Marines pretty much out of the action so they retain good health. But an alternative plan is to let them get killed along the way, so you end up getting reinforcements in the dustbowl area. Eliminate all nearby threats before they touch down, to keep them healthy for the main event. When it comes to clearing the passage, first lead all Marines far away, then head for the passage so you can wipe out the enemy alone.

Battle tactics

This isn't really specific to the extra-Marines trick, but while I'm here I thought I'd briefly ramble on about some tactics for the main battle. Here we go…

Sniping

My usual tactic is to stand somewhere I can snipe enemies the moment they come down. Sometimes you can get them while they're still in the air - a nice challenge! I'll typically have a plasma rifle as back-up, for toasting any enemies that get too close. Often I'll be up on a rock so the Marines don't get in my line of fire. There's a good rock up on the right, just past where that Elite was patrolling; I've used that a lot. Rocks on the low ground near the area entrance are also good fun; you get a dramatic low view of enemies on the grav-lift, and quite often they stand around having failed to spot you.

But possibly my favourite vantage point is up on the high ground on your immediate left as you enter the area, where a Shade is often located. Stand on the edge to avoid Marines getting in the way, and you've got an imperious view. In addition, you can always jump down and retreat back to the safety of the passage if the situation goes bad.

Wave decimation

There's also a sneaky 'wave decimation' grenading tactic I like to employ. As you may have noticed, each new wave seems to be triggered once the enemy count drops below two. So, when you see that the count is at two or just over, lob a plasma grenade so it's going to land near the centre of the grav-lift, then quickly reduce the count below two to trigger a new wave. Just as the new wave arrives, the grenade hopefully takes out the whole lot as they're standing there, or possibly even before they've quite touched down. Nice! Of course, this potentially triggers another wave; so if you've confidently lobbed another grenade in the meanwhile, you might take that wave out too. See how many waves you can get like that. Throws are relatively hard to aim from the low ground, so ideally you should be higher up.

Admittedly that tactic is a bit of an unfair trick as it rests on unrealistic advance knowledge of when a new wave is going to come down. But it's fun! Of course, you could also simply wait until you see a wave coming down before you throw. In that case a fast-acting frag grenade is probably the best choice.

On the move

Another idea is to keep moving around the raised outer perimeter. The Marines get strung out behind you, and the enemy gets quite unfocused with the dispersed targets. Fire and grenade as you go. It's probably also good that the Marines are being encouraged to run along to keep up with you; makes it harder for the enemy to hit them.

Down below

If you want to live a bit more dangerously, you could just hang around in the area below the grav-lift and enjoy a general free-for-all at fairly close range. An Elite will often get distracted by Marines, allowing you to give him a nasty surprise of some sort.

Close and personal

Gung-ho corespondent One One Seven has a fine recipe for even greater chaos. Go stand on the grav-lift itself and defend from there. You'll have enemies beaming down all around you! I'd want plasma pistol here; ideal for close-range zapping and whacking. Maybe a plasma rifle or AR as back-up, for delivering hurt into anyone starting to get away. Oh, and take a moment to look up at the enemies as they descend sometime; it's a novel view!

Hunter tactics

When it comes to the Hunters, I tend to run in to start whacking them and drilling them with an AR. It can all be over in seconds. If you fancy something more spectacular, try streaming needles into them as you move around the raised perimeter. If you're feeling cocky, try luring a Hunter over to the cliff edge. Dodge as he swipes, and watch him plummet to his doom. Hah! Chalk another one up to the cyborg. Two Finger suggests a more leisurely approach however. Just stand back and see what your squad can do! Time to earn your pay boys…