Having your fun - part 2
Splatter marks on the ceiling
If your firework gets enough boost to reach the high white ceiling of the area and he's still suffering the effects of needles, he's liable to leave a big splatter mark formed from multiple sprays of blood. A typical mark is easily visible with the naked eye but you'll want a zoomed sniper rifle to see it well. Try to catch things as they happen. In that case you can see the mark rapidly form in a sweep of patches. You may also briefly see your Elite against the mark as a tiny white silhouette, which is not just amusing but also gives you a sense of the size of the mark. These things are big! Once I saw my Elite silhouetted for quite a while because needle explosions were keeping him up near the ceiling. Nice! Just prior to the mark's formation, you'll have lost sight of the Elite in the mist, though you can still see hazy pink explosions.
There are often black spots among the blood stains. To judge from experiments on the ground, these arise from the tinkling of needles in between needle bangs. Sometimes you'll get several of these needle marks making a line, indicating the Elite's path.
You can also get splatter from plasma grenades going off, though it's difficult to achieve because the timing of the explosion has to be just right. With needles it's routine and the marks are also more varied and interesting I think. I like seeing the different shapes the splatter marks make or suggest. One time I swear I saw a Grunt waving at me, and another time I got something very much like a 'W'. Was the Elite trying to tell me something? Maybe "Wort wort wort", one last time?
Getting a closer look
If you fly up in a Banshee for a closer look at the mark, you'll find that you can't reach it. There seems to be an invisible barrier in the way, and although you can get fairly close, the view isn't as good as using a sniper rifle on the ground, unless perhaps you dismount for a quickly snatched view with zoomed sniper rifle as you fall to your death. Depending on the mark's location however, you could potentially get a closer look with the sniper rifle by dropping yourself off on the tower or one of the two platforms or - higher still - the second ledge running around the entire area. The mark will persist for over three minutes before fading, so there's plenty of time. Both of my pics here are high views for clarity.
Suitable launch methods
The first thing I want to say about suitable launch methods is that it's a good idea to use my pre-blasting technique. It'll save you a whole lot of laborious rocketing or Scorpion fire and you'll be able to produce splatter marks at a much higher rate.
So now the question is, how much blasting, tagging, and needling to use? In the following I'll only be talking about getting splatter marks from needles, as things are quite different for grenades and I haven't looked into that much yet. I'll also be assuming that any blasting with rockets or Scorpion shells is sending him pretty much straight up (you'd potentially need more blasting and needles if he goes off at an angle), and that any needling is in the chest (the dynamics could be different if it's elsewhere).
First let's consider rockets. 10 rockets can do the job, coupled with 4 needle clips. With 14 rockets he'll probably be going fast enough that he only needs 3 clips, and with 20 rockets you could reduce that to 2 clips, saving you time on the needling for each launch. If using only 10 rockets (which would let you send both Elites up, using 1 launcher on each of them), an alternative to using 4 needle clips would be a basic 2-grenade tag launch or something bigger, providing extra boost. With 2 grenades you'd want 61 needles for a proper tag launch, but actually just 3 clips should be ok (the grenades will still go off fast), saving you a reload. With 3 grenades however, 3 clips would give a proper tag launch.
One thing to mention about grenade blasts is that they do add an element of randomness into things. If using grenades at all, you might want to make sure they go off very early into the launch. I get the impression that with a longer delay, the bang seems to be able to divert the trajectory more, which wouldn't help - though it might not matter if your Elite is going up fast enough.
As for the Scorpion, it's a bit clumsy for aiming your Elite, but using 25 shells will shoot him up fast enough that you'd only need 1 needle clip to get a splatter mark. However, the marks would probably be richer if you used 2 clips. When I tried 50 shells, I was able to get splatter mark with only 7 needles - just enough to cause a single needle bang; but using 13 needles caused two bangs and gave a richer mark including black spots.
When giving the Elite such extreme speed, I think the resulting splatter marks may be more concentrated (less expansive) than when using slower ascents, but I'll probably check more into that later. Another difference is that the Elite is likely to bounce off the ceiling fast, meaning that you have less chance of seeing him silhouetted against the purple.
You've also got the option of Banshee blasts. They're a lot weaker than Scorpion blasts but there's far less shudder of the controller (assuming you've got vibration switched on), so I certainly find them a lot more comfortable to do. Once the Elite has been killed with a first blast or two, it's easiest to let the Banshee just rest stationary on the ground. With 25 blasts you can get splatter marks with just 2 needle clips, though 3 might give richer marks. With 50 blasts I was able to get marks with just 1 clip.
I may have more to say on all this later. I plan to do a movie on this stuff, and at that time I'll probably explore a bit more. One idea I have is that if you can get the Elite to be levelling out as he nears the ceiling, he might leave a really long splatter mark. Could be nice!
Double the splatter
If you send both Elites up at once and your aim is good and you have a spot of luck besides, you could get a pair of splatter marks close together or even overlapping. It could be quite a challenge but I think it would be interesting. It's also just fun to see the Elites going up together, especially if they happen to stay really close.
Just for the record…
I knew you could get these marks when I first posted on Elite fireworks, but I had the wrong idea about them. All I said at the time was that "If you use enough rockets to send an Elite flying up, he may leave a big purple splat-mark on the misty white 'roof' of the area". I thought the blood was from the freaky impact of his body, but during my 2010 revision I realized that it's actually formed from the sprays of blood flying off him from the effects of needles and potentially grenades. So he's not really going SPLAT! after all.
Pre-blasting for rapid repeat launching
As long as you haven't triggered enemies through the pass that leads into the spiral path area, there's a rather useful modification you can make to your set-up. You can get one or both Elites 'pre-blasted' with rockets or whatever, then get a new checkpoint. You'll then be able to do repeated launching more rapidly. It's a time saver, and can also be useful in giving you advance knowledge of where your fireworks might fly. I'll say more about uses in a moment, but first here's the technique in more detail. It's another new development with my 2010 revision of the article.
Modifying your set-up
Blast one or both Elites however you like. Rockets, Scorpion blasts, whatever. Most likely you'd be interested in aiming an Elite in a particular direction, so you might be needing to take some care about it. If he drops any grenades in his vicinity, you might want to pause your blasting to remove them, or revert and start over, else they could go off and interfere with your intended aim.
With the blasting done, switch to whatever weaponry you'll be wanting to use after your forthcoming new checkpoint. If you've done all the rocketing you're interested in, that would most likely be a needler, with sniper rifle as secondary for the subsequent viewing.
Go to the pass. There's a huge rock on the left of the entrance. Jumping continuously, advance maybe a metre past the rock, just far enough to trigger enemies beyond (watch for red dots on your motion tracker). Importantly you'll have avoided crossing the release line which slices diagonally across the pass a bit further on as indicated in the picture, so your Elites remain frozen. There's a checkpoint associated with the triggering of enemies, but because you're jumping it gets delayed. Head back and get into position for doing any further work on an Elite, then stop jumping so you finally get the checkpoint. Finished!
Sorry, no needles or plasmas
You might be wondering about doing some pre-needling too, or some pre-tagging with plasma grenades. That would be great; you could have an Elite all ready to launch right after a checkpoint! Unfortunately it won't work, as I soon found out. Any needle or grenade on him constitutes active ordnance, and as such it causes checkpoint delay (see my 'active ordnance principle'). As long as a frozen Elite has even a single needle or grenade on him, you won't be able to get a checkpoint I believe. Darn, that's a shame!
This technique is excellent for getting splatter marks on the ceiling. You can do some careful pre-blasting to get your Elite aimed well. Each time you want to launch him after the checkpoint, it's not going to take long. Add needles and/or plasma grenades, back off, and up he goes.
Another good use is if you're trying to get an Elite landed on some high place (e.g. the top of the tower) just for the challenge. It could help you achieve your goal faster. Your pre-blasting could constitute the bulk of the appropriate boosting work; enough to get him heading up fast and in the right general direction. With each launch attempt you can make any final modifications (needles, grenades, and maybe additional blasting to tweak the trajectory).
It's also handy if you're interested in taking potshots at airborne Elites with various weaponry, as you'll be able to do more shooting. See the subsection on Clay pigeon shooting, cyborg style.
The technique could also be used for general launching, saving you having to do so much blasting each time. For example the pre-blasting could comprise four rockets, forming the basis for a decent amount of boost in a particular direction. With each launch you can add more if desired, along with needles and grenades.
A minor use is to help you see the boosting effect of using different amounts of needles. Try this for example. Pre-blast an Elite with just one or two rockets, as if to send him on a short flight at a low angle. After your new checkpoint, see how the flight goes. Now revert, but this time add a clip of needles in his chest before releasing him, and you'll find that he's in the air considerably longer. Try two clips - and so on. This experiment really brought home to me how strong the boosting effect from needles is.
Temporary or permanent
Once you've had enough of your modification to the original save, you can always get back to the original by ejecting the disc and reloading of course; so it can just be considered a temporary modification. But there's also the option of saving your new checkpoint to make the modification permanent, if it turns out to be so good you want to keep it for future play. With that possibility in mind you might want to do your modification on a copy of the original save, so you can always save without having lost the original.
If you want to aim your firework with a bit of finesse, here are my tips.
Using plasma grenade streamers
While your Elite is still frozen, any plasma grenades on him give off long streamers according to the blasts he's been subjected to. As well as being pretty, they usefully indicate the direction he's currently due to fly off in. As such, you can use them to help aim your firework if you have a particular goal in mind. Tag him beforehand, and you can monitor the streamers as you subsequently rocket the ground or whatever. You can make adjustments to your rocketing according to how things are shaping up. You can even move to the base of a streamer to help you judge where it's pointing. The length of a streamer gives an indication of what his initial speed will be, but that's not so much use.
Learning rocketing spots
A rocket which hits a particular spot on the ground will give the Elite a push in a certain direction. If you fire your rockets at that spot then launch him, you'll see the result. What you can do is learn a good spot to fire at, to achieve a desired result. You could identify the spot with relation to his shadow for example, or pick out a particular feature on the ice (which has various grooves on it). Anything sufficiently memorable. Use that spot and your rockets should have the same directional effect each time. If you want, you could use a zoomed sniper rifle to line up your first rocket shot to make things extra precise or help you see features better.
In doing all this, I suggest you also stand at a particular place, just in case the angle of strike could otherwise cause some variation in the blast effect. Ideally it would be the place you're already at when your save starts. So, it's good if you set things up to be in a nice position.
If you want a vertical launch - perhaps for getting splatter marks on the ceiling - it helps if he's on the ground rather than in mid-air because you can then aim your rockets between his feet. However, getting him going very close to vertical is harder than you might think, and you may still need to learn a particular spot to fire your rockets at.
Prior to doing your blasting for a vertical launch, you may want to first kill your Elite to get rid of any grenades. Otherwise, any released by your killing blast are liable to land near him and get set off by the next, potentially disturbing the aim and - worse - maybe also blowing you to bits. You could remove them after your first blast of course, but then you'd have to aim afresh, which isn't ideal.
Learning grenade spots
If you're going to do a tag launch, you can learn the effects of applying the grenades to particular spots. A process of trial and error could lead you to get things how you'd like, except that there tends to be quite a bit of randomness in how tag launches turn out, so I'm not saying things will be very predictable. In applying the grenades it may be best to stand in a particular place before pointing your reticle at a particular spot on the Elite's body. If you do this, your grenades should end up in the same place each time (not necessarily the exact spot the reticle was on), enabling you to hopefully repeat the desired effects on each launch.
Bear in mind that any needle or grenade bangs during flight will introduce an element of randomness to the trajectory, as they each give him a bit of a jolt. The fewer the bangs, the more reliable your aiming will be.