Hornet fun with canyon enemies
Posted December 19th 2007
By skipping the landing battle you can make enemies in the canyon spawn later than usual and get some novel combat using a Hornet. Before I get to the full plan for arranging this (and it's easy), let me elaborate on that first bit.
Skipping the landing battle
By 'skipping' the landing battle I mean running on ahead before the beach is secured, and so that any Marines you leave behind aren't going to stand a chance of doing it on their own. The easiest way is to just run straight past along the shore, leaving Marines to fend for themselves. They'll usually survive on Easy, but don't expect any survivors on Heroic. You can kill some enemies if you like, as long as you leave enough resistance that the Marines aren't likely to secure the beach on their own. It seems to me that as long as the Wraith or at least three foot soldiers remain intact, the game will continue to consider the beach unsecured.
Having done this, events unfold differently than normal. As you head up the canyon on foot, it'll be deserted; no sign of the usual Grunts and Jackals yet. As you approach the rocky arch you'll get a checkpoint and hear over the intercom that the beachhead has been secured - a victory you can thank the game scripting for, rather than the efforts of your Marines. Behind you the canyon enemies will finally have been triggered except for the manned Ghosts, and there will also have been a Pelican drop on the beach.
When you return from deactivating the tower, canyon enemies will still be around - 3 Grunts and 2 Jackals - but the Shade and its gunner will have been removed by the game. You can just drive past them. You can subsequently trigger the Ghosts as follows. Just past the waiting Hornets are a couple of large rocks on the left. When you're roughly level with the largest and not too high up, you get a checkpoint and the Ghosts materialize, something the game was expecting to occur before you ever left the beach.
Setting up the fun
Ok, so here's how to arrange the fun with late-spawning canyon enemies. Skip the landing battle. On your way back from deactivating the tower, bypass the canyon enemies that exist so far. Preferably don't have any Marines with you, as you don't want those enemies to get attacked yet. At the beach, use the coastal Hornet trick to get a Hornet able to fly about freely, then get the Ghost materialization checkpoint I mentioned. You can now fly off to attack the canyon enemies, either with the Hornet itself or using it to reach high vantage points from which to attack on foot.
However, there's something you should preferably do before starting your attack. Start flying up the canyon. As you near the arch you should get a checkpoint and hear Johnson say "Ma'am, we're on the ground. Third tower in sight" - something you were meant to hear the first time up the canyon. The virtue of getting this arch checkpoint is that when you wipe out the enemy, the game won't give you a checkpoint, hence you'll be able to revert at leisure to have your fun again. If you don't bother to get it, you'll be due a checkpoint right after wiping out the enemy, and you'll either need to be ready to revert quickly else revert before they're all dead.
If you're particularly interested in attacking Ghosts repeatedly, lure them after you as you head for your arch checkpoint, so they're nearby as you get it. They can potentially be right in your sights as you get it. But sometimes the checkpoint may get delayed a bit when Ghosts are around - it seems a bit fickle - so you may need to revert for successive attempts.
You'll have a field day with those guided rockets. One technique to try: get the Hornet right down on the ground and skim the rockets along, downhill.
You could be in possession of a well stocked fuel rod gun if you want, good for blasting enemies from height; see Extra fuel rod gun before the first tower. You could also have snatched one from a Brute on the beach before running off. Another fun-filled weapon choice would be a Brute shot.
If you've got the cloaking device from outside the tower, it's fun to land and attract the Ghosts your way, then cloak yourself. The pilots tend to deliver amusingly pertinent comments about your disappearance, though it may help to have the IWHBYD skull on. Have fun sneakily tagging them or whatever.
Marines in the canyon
If Marines were trailing far behind you when you came back down the canyon, they may end up joining in your attack on the canyon enemies - possibly after dismounting their vehicles (which I think they do when you get back to the Hornets and dismount). They'll potentially board any vacant Ghosts. It can be amusing to watch on Easy, but if you want to make sure all enemies are left alive for your own pleasure, make sure not to have any Marine dawdlers.