The amazing zap phenomenon

Posted November 6th 2005, updated later

This article details something special you can enjoy in an Arc of death scenario (you might want to read about that first; I'll assume familiarity here). Special enough to merit a separate page.

When you set off a massive chain reaction at the rock on the right, sending bodies flying, a body may get 'zapped' by a plasma emission ('blue beam') from the central structure. When that happens it gets violently deflected into another trajectory and there's often an accompanying spray of blood in the air. I vividly remember the first time I saw it. Among the enemies sent skyward was a dead Elite. He sailed up got zapped. Clouds of misty purple blood exploded from him as he was sent into a new trajectory, way back over the hills behind my shoulder. Truly spectacular.

Creating a good save to see it

It turned out that the save I was using was particularly good for this, allowing me to see zapping occur quite often, maybe once every minute or so. In the save there are only the Grunts and a Jackal left. All Elites have already been killed at the rock (i.e. before I got my save checkpoint), boosting the grenade count nicely. Each time I revert, all I have to do is pop out from behind my cover rock, send in a frag grenade to approximately the right place, and BLAM! A huge chain reaction sends up multiple bodies, including many heading over towards the structure. And as luck would have it, an emission is due any moment! That bit was pure chance; I just happened to prompt the save checkpoint at the right time.

You shouldn't have much trouble creating a similar save, with deliberate timing to arrange your delayed checkpoint. On PAL Xbox there's an emission every 18 seconds, so here's my advice. Standing at your cover rock, wait for an emission. Now count about 5 seconds before ducking behind your rock, getting the checkpoint a few seconds later. In your save, the first emission will be due in about 10 seconds; just right for almost immediately sending in a grenade or stream of needles to set off the chain reaction. Of course, you'll want a lot of grenades and bodies concentrated by the rock, and that's where some effort may be required. My own save had 15 grenades and 19 bodies there (9 Elites, 10 Grunts).

Watching zapped enemies

Have a pistol ready so you can use a zoomed view to watch zapped enemies. If you anticipate a potential zap coming up as a body sails across, you can even catch the impact itself in a zoomed view. I normally jump up onto the cover rock to observe.

It can also be viable to run in towards the target rock as you send in a grenade or needles, so that you end up being able to see any zapping from a better angle and closer up. The viability of this depends on how much fire you're likely to be under from any surviving enemies, who get awfully touchy about you impinging into their territory. I can just about manage it with my save, as most of the enemy either go up in the bang or get taken out by me on my way in.

Purple blood streak

Sometimes a good zap leaves a long streak of purple Elite blood on the structure. Other times the blood just forms a long cloud in the air. When an Elite is in contact with the plasma a long time, deflecting to a steep angle, the blood streak tends to be really long, sometimes spreading across the sky for many tens of metres.

Grunty gets a zapping

When a Grunt is zapped he can go for miles, on account of being relatively light. One Grunt got deflected almost straight up and went so high that I almost lost him in my zoomed view. At his peak he looked pretty much like the nearby stars; just a dull pinprick of light. Some Grunts shoot off so fast that I lose them. On a few occasions I've seen multiple bodies zapped at once, including a triplet of Grunts that comically flew off in different directions.


You'll also see weapons get zapped. And if you care to commit cyborg suicide by running into that pile of grenades, you might even manage to get zapped yourself!