Besides a terrifying assault on the dignity of television, Halo 4's free Spartan Ops DLC campaign is an attempt to wrest possession of the much-venerated "water cooler anecdote" from Left 4 Dead. Season 1's 50 missions (five a week) recount the rivalry of Spartan-IV squads Majestic and Crimson via cutscenes and mid-mission chatter, but the hope is that you'll tell a nice little emergent tale of your own, parked alongside the scripted narrative.
On that front, I bring joyous tidings. When it comes to memorable bits of user-engineered drama, the three Spartan Ops missions I've sampled more than cut the mustard. Here are five thrilling tales of ineptitude and victory.
1. The bit when I teamed up with an NPC
There appear to be computer-controlled marines in certain of Halo 4's co-op campaigns, and a damn good thing too, or I'd have been left high and dry without a gunner during Crimson's assault on Quarry, a wide sandy basin bristling with Covenant bases. There I was, honking my horn for other players to get in, and there everybody else was, running off on foot like incompetent fools. I cried out unto the gods of Requiem for assistance - and the gods responded by way of a small friendly man with no faceplate, who immediately seized the handles of the on-board Gauss rifle.
His grip was gentle yet firm, like that of a possessive lover. "Come, Jeremy," I said. (I once knew a small friendly man called Jeremy and I'm very good at making quick associations.) "Let us presently debark upon the fortunes of war, there to advance humanity's star by running over everybody who's the wrong colour." "OOH-RAH," Jeremy sagely observed. "I see you are a man of action rather than words, Jeremy," was my undaunted riposte. "The stage awaits. Let us HENCE."
And with that we henced, barging past our comrades and engaging the nearest Covenant base head-on. I'm not known for my artful manipulation of the garden-variety Warthog jeep, but we did pretty well at first, skidding around in shaky figures of eight while Jeremy locked and popped with computerised accuracy, shearing away the wings of a Wraith.
This continued for some minutes, during which the rest of the Spartans caught up and took advantage of the chaos to nuke the objective. I celebrated by driving up a hill and straight off a cliff at the wounded Wraith, on the assumption that Jeremy would slo-mo dive from the saddle Max Payne style, twin Magnums perforating the vehicle's hood. He didn't, and we barrel-rolled, and somebody shot us into space with a Fuel Rod Launcher.