We haven't reviewed Halo 4's fourth Spartan Ops episode this week, as it shares too much content with previous episodes to justify rattling out another 1000-word elegy to Firefight. Instead, I thought I'd take a few moments to celebrate a few of the people who've made my time with Spartan Ops worthwhile, often by being absolute bloody nuisances.
Here they are, care of the magic of unfunny pseudonyms. If you've met anybody equally memorable, immortalise them forever in the comments thread.
Sergeant OCD MacConsiderate
You were the one who sent me a helpful Xbox Live message after a tour of Sniper's Alley during the Episode 4 mission Hairy Call. "seeing as you're OXM staff," you wrote, "i'll pass on this wee tip. assassinate the first two grunts on "hairy call" it counts towards commendations, an is *almost* guaranteed, if your squadmates don't shoot them first, that is. happy hunting! :þ" A Scotsman, and a gentleman. It pains me to reflect that I repaid your generosity by spending five minutes doing nothing, while dug-in Jackals took big, savage bites out of your K/D ratio.
The Spinning Triplets of Clique
You were the players who denied me a place on the Warthog when all I wanted to do was help you blow up some Wraiths. As the three of you sped away, waggling your assault rifles merrily, I brushed aside a single, decorous tear and clambered onto a nearby Mongoose, self-esteem flapping in the breeze like the scarf of a Dickensian beggar. "I'll get even," I brokenly swore, shaking one fist at the screen (thus depriving myself of the control necessary to avoid driving straight through a Hunter). And get even I did, though it was a long and bumpy road. 10 minutes later, you were spinning that Warthog like a top in the middle of the map, and I was getting sat upon by Covvie reinforcements at the other end, whimpering like a kitten surrounded by shopping trolleys. But I got the most kills on that match, didn't I? I had no choice. After all, you were too busy showboating to shoot anything.
Captain Mincing Mantis
As we polished off a Covenant cruiser at the climax of Episode 3, I experienced the unmistakeable stinging sensation of being repeatedly shot in the back with nuclear rockets. 'Twas you, sir, celebrating our victory by attempting to ensure that only you, sir, would live to savour it. I expressed my disdain for your traitorous antics by rhythmically pumping my Spartan's arse - and in a stroke of brilliance, you somehow persuaded your Mantis to return the gesture. A tea-bagging Mantis? Even now, in a parallel universe, Optimus Prime is wielding a placard marked "BAN THIS SICK FILTH".
You were the guy in the Ghost with whom I concocted such beautiful combat-music elsewhere in Episode 3. It was a meeting of opposites, you ground-bound and speedy in your plastic purple coffin, I indefatigably airborne, throwing grenades wildly and running out of jet fuel at the worst possible moments. I have this great memory - a memory I'll probably share with grieving relatives on my deathbed - of careening upwards into the clouds to escape a charging Elite, seeing it stop where I'd been standing just before you slammed in from the right and scythed the beast's legs away. Were you aiming for me? Was it my head you wanted on your fender? No matter. Glory is all.
You were the one who kept dropping Regenerator Fields. Full marks for effort, ma'am, but zero marks for presence of mind. Generally speaking, it helps if the healing zone isn't right slapbang in the middle of the crossfire.
Here's how best to use Halo 4's Armor Abilities, and here's a list of the best Halo 4 load-outs. If you're wondering what the game's episodic component bodes for gaming in general, read this interview with 343 co-founder Frank O'Connor.