Wanderers of Destiny

WANDERERS_europa_view_01

“Europa View”, a scene from WANDERERS (click to see the film)

A short film by Erik Wernquist recently came to my attention (via Polygon) and it’s fantastic – a look into a possible future of space travel and exploration.

The title comes from, in Mr. Wernquist’s own Continue reading →

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Cold Cartography – Lockout

Welcome to the second installment of my “Cold Cartography” series, a group of posts looking at the snow-covered Halo multiplayer maps and reflecting on their layout and lore.

First up was “Sidewinder“, but we now turn to a more compact space …

“Some believe this remote facility was once used to study the Flood. But few clues remain amidst the snow and ice”

Lockout_1

Name:         “Lockout”

Location:     Installation 05

Game:          Halo 2

Map Pack:    N/A

Marco:         Polo

Tucked against a rock face on Delta Halo, Lockout was one of the standout maps of Halo 2. Originally set to feature in Halo: Combat Evolved*, Lockout was worth the wait as it kept players constantly on edge with its power positions not easily defended.

This meant everyone was always moving, and in my opinion that’s something that pushes a multiplayer space from good to great; Lockout illustrates this very well.

Made up of three levels, the top saw the sniper and battle rife face off against each other while snow fell silent between. The central area was the vertical middle ground you crossed at your own peril – bullets (and exploding power cores!) usually coming from several angles as you tried to make it across. You were an easy target, but a few well-timed jumps in this area was the fastest way to cover the distance of the map.

(I did not usually survive this trek, but that didn’t stop me from trying.)

The third and lowest level was where the second wave of power weapons could be found; I’m speaking of the shotgun and plasma sword. The shotgun was my particular weapon of choice, so there were many times my goal on this map consisted of one objective:

  • Get to the green hallway

After that objective was achieved, I then had two options depending on what I found:

  • Shotgun acquired: engage enemy team and deal out justice!
  • Shotgun unavailable: engage enemy team and receive justice!

As you could guess I was extremely partial to the first option.

The different levels not only made Slayer crazy, but Capture the Flag as well. How many times did I nearly make it to cover, only to drop the flag down to the next level? What had been a good run now turned to a bad position. Ah, the frustration only a CTF player knows 🙂

Lockout also had several places where instead of meeting at a right angle the floor rose up to meet the wall at about a 45 degrees (or less), giving the player a chance to camp a doorway or other opening. I’m thinking particularly of the area right underneath the middle square, where having just escaped the carnage above you would be finished off by someone who had probably entered the same room seconds before.

Lockout_2

Lockout not only holds many multiplayer memories, but some story elements that are worth pondering. Set on Installation 05 (the second Halo ring discovered by humanity,  found orbiting the icy gas giant Substance in the Coelest System), the space appears to be an ancient Forerunner lab and/or base that was used to study the Flood. No doubt the location’s subzero temperatures played a part in the decision to build there.

There are several questions that Lockout doesn’t answer, but prompts use to ask. Was this structure ever overrun by Flood? We know 05-2401 Penitent Tangent was derelict in his duties. The area isn’t covered in Flood growth when we encounter it, but could have been after. If this was the case, than it may also have been glassed by the Covenant Separatists (to prevent the Flood from spreading) after the events of Halo 2.

And what of the UNSC base now at Delta Halo? (It was mentioned on the level “Infinity” by Laskey in Halo 4.) If Lockout wasn’t glassed, has ONI or any other branch of the military discovered it? We visited the research facility (Ivanoff Station) above Installation 03 in Halo 4, could we see a plausible canonical reason to revisit Lockout in subsequent Halo games?

Possibilities like this are why it matters that these multiplayer maps are wrapped in fiction – it allows the connection of stories and settings in ways you wouldn’t have open otherwise.

What about you? Any fond (or not so fond) memories of this chilled map on Delta Halo? Have any theories of your own on the fiction of the location and what it could mean? I’d love to hear them – feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks!

>>>>>>>>>[4721640.3600.696]

>>>>>>>[Post tenebras lux]

*= Copy and pasted directly from Halopedia:

Lockout was originally named “The Cage” and was intended to be released with Halo: Combat Evolved. However, it didn’t make the cut and instead made its debut in Halo 2, albeit with some significant changes since initial development. The original version of The Cage appears in Halo: Reach as a Forge World map variant shipped with the game.

This note in turn came from a Bungie Weekly Update back in July of 2010

The Fall of Reach / Part I

Office of Navel Intelligence headerOFFICE OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE/SECTION 1

DUE DILIGENCE REPORT – H931106

1400 HOURS, June 20, 2012

CLASSIFIED U//FOUO

COMM-SCRIBED/PTS 7441-7

>> 00281-11224-KC // LT CONRAD, KEVIN GEORGE

<< 00705-00625-LB // RDML BOYTHORN, LAWRENCE KIRKLAND

RE: OPERATION: EXPANDED CONTEXT

ATTACHED: Initial RE if needed

STATUS: The Fall of Reach / Eric Nylund / Section I, “Reveille” (pg. 11-34)

Sir,

My thoughts on the first section of The Fall of Reach; please direct any questions to the bottom of document.

The first section is titled “Reveille,” and I can only speculate at the significance – a wake up call, but for who? The future Master Chief? The UNSC itself? I’m not sure. Continue reading →