Marines on the beach
Posted April 19th 2008
In level 7, The Covenant, you start off with three Marines on the beach and it's possible to add more later to eventually get ten hanging around where the Hornets land - including three Hornet pilots. You can then have some explosive fun with them, and in particular there's some very amusing sport you can get out of rocketing a Mongoose. Sound good? Then read on…
To set things up with the most Marines, it's best to use Easy. As for whether to use the Cowbell skull, it's good for spectacle when blasting Marines, but it's bad for the Mongoose rocketing sports described later. So to begin with I suggest you leave it off.
Start by skipping the landing battle as described in Hornet fun with canyon enemies. On Easy your three buddies will usually survive in your absence.
After deactivating the tower you'll have two new Marines helping with your exit, plus another that arrives outside with a troop hog, and another on a Mongoose, probably up on the ridge. Get them back to the beach. You can get all four in the troop hog if you like, or just let them tail after you in their own vehicles as long as you don't leave them too far behind.
When you get back, hopefully your original three buddies will have survived the landing battle, in which case they'll be running to the Hornet area. The original two Hornets will yield two pilots armed with pistols. Use the coastal Hornet trick to bring the third Hornet to shore and get the pilot out. He'll be unarmed, and by now you've got ten Marines.
After boarding, get the Ghost materialization checkpoint described in Hornet fun with canyon enemies. You'll be able to revert to it each time you've wiped out the Marines or whatever. If you don't get it, you'll be in danger of getting it accidentally during your fun, losing you the ability to revert to the start.
Here's an alternative plan for setting things up. Instead of skipping the landing battle, fight it as usual, hopefully keeping your buddies alive and healthy. Destroy the hog when it drops, and drive off to the tower alone in the Mongoose, leaving the four Marines on the beach. You can bring back three more later and end up with ten as before. You won't get the Ghost materialization checkpoint this time, but that doesn't matter much as you'll have had a checkpoint on reaching the Hornets. It's maybe not as convenient for reverting to, but it'll do.
Let the fun begin
You can now attack the Marines. Blasting them skyward with rockets from the Hornet is obviously high on the agenda, and the Cowbell skull would make that extra spectacular, but you could also land somewhere to attack on foot. You'll be declared a traitor after killing a few, so watch out! If you're in the Hornet it's novel to hear bullets pinging off the paintwork. The Marines are rather quick to forgive you however. Bad mistake guys - hold still a minute while I fire my next salvo!
In the set-up work, if you got your Hornet and checkpoint promptly you'll find that the original guys you left behind on the beach have not yet reached the Hornet area. In that case you can enjoy trying to rocket them as they run along. Moving targets - very nice! See if you can get them before they arrive.
Getting Marines to dismount
If you ever want any Marines to dismount from a vehicle and they seem reluctant, you can prompt them by briefly stepping foot on the ground. They may have a tendency to get back in afterwards though. If you want to prevent that, destroy the vehicle.
If you got any Mongooses back to the beach, it's tremendous fun to rocket them with your Hornet. Marines will generally man them (though they'll temporarily dismount whenever you dismount the Hornet) and they tend to park close together, making it possible to blast two Mongooses with one shot, maybe sending them off in opposite directions.
In particular you can blow a Mongoose into the sea still intact, where its headlights illuminate the water nicely. Sometimes the hog and driver can be completely submerged. Ok so that's not terribly realistic, but marvel at the ripple effects as the Mongoose bounces, and at the wake effect as it's driven back to shore. I may have my criticisms of Halo 3, but then there's also a lot of amazing technical craft in it such as this, which you have to admire.
You can make excellent sport out of these enforced ocean excursions. On Easy I blew a Mongoose into the sea 21 times - mostly a heck of a long way out - before both it and its patiently complaining driver bought the farm. Later I managed a whopping 49 on Heroic, and the end was quite interesting because the Mongoose seemed to explode on landing, something I'd never seen before. See how many times you can manage. The trick is to land your rockets close but not too close! I think you can probably do it indefinitely, with the Mongoose and Marine continually able to restore health to a certain level. I haven't got around to doing tests to figure out the damage models involved, but I expect the Mongoose has a 'recovery point' in the same sort of way as the hog does - something you can read about in my account of weakening hogs elsewhere.
Stay off my beach
Here's another water-based challenge, which is more difficult as you'll be working with a moving target. After blasting a manned Mongoose into the sea, see how long you can keep it off the beach. Each time the driver tries to reach dry land, it's your job to blast the Mongoose away again before he makes it. Poor guy…
If you have the Cowbell skull on, you can blast Mongooses much further than normal, so far that they can even vanish from view due to the draw distance flaw. However, the driver will tend to die (or at least, that's what I found on Easy), so it won't be any good for the water-based sports I mentioned (unless perhaps you've got the Mythic skull on, which makes Marines a lot tougher). One thing Cowbell is definitely good for though: blast the Mongoose towards a cliff wall and it may explode on impact!
Prompting Marines to man Mongooses
Incidentally, if Marines ever seem reluctant to board a Mongoose to begin with, briefly board it yourself. That tends to prompt them. If a guy goes for the back or actually boards the back, he'll usually switch to the driver's seat after you vacate it.
Marines vs Ghosts
Another thing you can do with your crowd is let them take on the Ghosts that recently materialized up the canyon (assuming you used the first set-up method I described, involving skipping the landing battle). Just lure the Ghosts down and watch, or whatever. You could maybe give one guy a Spartan laser or something if you want to spice things up a little.
Sometimes the unarmed pilot from the third Hornet will get mad and chase after a Ghost. Real bright, that guy! I've also seen Marines board Mongooses and drive into battle.