BCM47 - Banshee battling

(5:37) Level 2 ('Halo') on Legendary. Relating to my Banshee battling article, this shows some battling at the bottom of the valley assisted by 9 Marines including a sniper. As in BCM26 there's a full play then a montage of clips from other plays with various squad arrangements (but the rock geometry remains constant).

Released April 30th 2012, gameplay recorded April 23rd-28th 2012.

Commentary

00:02 (Full play) The drive to this location is especially enjoyable with many fun-filled routes, and this time I opt for the standard jump off the big mound. A Banshee quickly latches onto the Warthog but I swerve into a circle to shake the plasma fire. You can spot a sniper rifle on the ground which was part of my weapon stash there in the base save (along with my squad). I do a few more jumps as we head down the valley. You can often get the passenger to yell something on one of these smaller jumps if he didn't already holler on the big one. The scattered squad comes into view - this was actually the first arrangement I tried for the movie - and I swerve to a halt at the back.

I get the sniper dismounted then hop up onto the big rock to join Stacker and Johnson, turning on my flashlight so they show up better; they'd be unnaturally dark otherwise. I'm up in time to help repulse a first attack, during which some frag grenades go airborne, eventually causing a fatality. The other Banshee heads in and I throw a plasma, but I see it going well short. I try a second and this time it's good. When the other Banshee comes in on a steep dive, I rush the end of my reloading and get another grenade off. Got him! So that's two decent tags for starters.

01:12 (Clip 1) Over on the right of the defence area, Johnson goes flying as a Banshee bolt comes in but I tag it as it's trying to squash the sniper. Unfortunately the Banshee then curves around to the other Marines and there's a lot of collateral damage when the bang goes off. Oops!

01:22 (Clip 2) In the back left corner now, a Banshee suddenly arcs down into a murderous squashing attack. A couple of Marines get mown down but the Banshee gets a plasma grenade on the tail, sending it into a nice spin past the cliff edge. BOOM!

01:30 (Clip 3) This time I've got Marines in the central area. A bolt takes out a few and then some other Marines get mown down, but I score a tag and the destroyed Banshee goes flying nicely. It's only a pity that last Marine didn't have the sense to get clear of the bang.

01:40 (Clip 4) Here I play cameraman in the central area, getting some footage of Marines in action. Johnson does a "Frag out!", and then there's some synchronized throwing with hat-guy. All this fragging-out is sheer lunacy of course - but hey, it seems to make the guys happy. At the end a Banshee is destroyed and amusingly slides into shot, making the sniper dive clear (you can just spot him behind the hog).

01:51 (Clip 5) This waterfall location is perhaps a bit out of the main defence area, but I've included a few clips of it for variety. In this clip I start with some AR fire. Johnson gets squashed by the Banshee but I avenge his death with a plasma grenade on the Banshee's tail, making it spin before exploding.

01:59 (Clip 6) Back on the big rock now, though with a different squad arrangement to before. I score a nice tag, but when the Banshee arcs down into the ground and goes bang there's a secondary explosion (probably from a loose frag) which sends Johnson flying.

02:06 (Clip 7) During a final session of gameplay for the movie, this freaky event happened as I drove down the valley. A Banshee blast just behind the rear sends the hog into a somersault, but it lands on its wheels and I continue, altering course to try and shake the plasma fire. My passenger takes the somersault in his stride: "Is that the best you can do?"

02:13 (Clip 8) More Marine watching. Near the tunnel entrance a bunch of bozos including Stacker take down a Banshee with massed AR fire, as it clumsily bumps into stuff and flies off. A big squad like this can be pretty effective, not even needing my help!

02:20 (Clip 9) Here I'm just in front of the big rock. A Banshee arcs down while taking fire from my plasma rifle, and I add a plasma grenade as it passes (clipping the smaller rock just in front of me, which can be used for cover). That's another pile of junk heading down into the sea, heh heh.

02:27 (Clip 10) In the central area, Marines are foolishly looking the wrong way and get blasted. I tag a Banshee as it approaches, but the bang doesn't quite do the job and I finish it with AR fire. As for the other Banshee, I miss with my first grenade but manage to stick one to the tail as it's flying off. The Marines are definitely in fighting mood now. "Want some more?"…

02:46 (Clip 11) …"Roger that". Over on the right of the battle area, Johnson spurs on the troops as the Banshees prepare for their next attack: "Hunt 'em down Marines". I'm in a small depression for this shot, which gave me a nice dramatic angle. I think I was kneeling too, something I usually do for Marine watching shots as it tends to look better.

02:49 (Clip 12) Here's a spot of AR work as a Banshee swoops around and past at back left where I've concentrated the squad. Just as I'm admiring the explosion, I hear a frag settling nearby, and turn to see a Marine go flying. "Oh, damn!" These guys really ought to be more careful with those things.

02:57 (Clip 13) Johnson gives an anguished cry when a swooping Banshee mangles the sniper and gets a second Marine too - a third just manages to dive clear. But all is not lost. It leaves with my plasma grenade on its tail and does a bit of a spin before going bang, leaving a nice trace.

03:04 (Clip 14) Here I've got the squad at back left. I score a nice long tag on an incoming Banshee as it peppers a Marine with plasma, but it arcs down towards me and the bang unexpectedly helps send the wreckage my way. I hastily back off but don't quite get clear in time. Oh dear.

03:13 (Clip 15) Playing cameraman again, over on the right of the battle area. Just a short clip, in which lots of Marines get spectacularly scattered by a Banshee blast. Five dead, two badly shaken. I think it may be time for me to stop watching and start shooting.

03:15 (Clip 16) From near the tunnel entrance I tag a Banshee as it goes overhead, and it does a good spin. Unfortunately it also descends near some Marines who don't have the wit to get clear of the blast.

03:21 (Clip 17) On the rock again, I tag an incoming Banshee and the bang sends it earthwards rather nicely. Stacker's frag wasn't any use of course, but I enjoyed the "Love and kisses for ya!" plus the final view of Stacker and Johnson, all of which helped this clip make it into the movie.

03:28 (Clip 18) Down on the grass now, I go for a super-long tag and score a hit. Meanwhile the other Banshee is pestering the Marines at ground level, but I help out with a few pistol shots. Ok a few Marines get taken out in the explosion, but can I help it if they don't have the sense to get clear?

03:43 (Clip 19) Marines dish out some AR fire on a low circling Banshee, then engage in some mass fragging. I make that six grenades going airborne together, including one from the unseen Stacker to the right, and another from an unseen Marine to the left. Johnson has the last word - "Dance!".

03:51 (Clip 20) Hopping up onto the big rock, I turn to see that a Banshee pilot has been ejected from his ride (this was the only ejection during my extensive gameplay for the movie). Looks like he bumped into the tree at a bad angle. He gets a nasty peppering from the guys and is dead before I can get close. When I notice the other Banshee heading in I send out a quick frag and score a pleasing hit.

04:05 (Clip 21) My opening grenade skims over the target at pretty close range, but I see the Banshee start to arc left so I make ready to try another tag. I quickly realize I'm in trouble and likely to get squashed, but I tag it anyway. Somehow I avoid death; and then I stand well back as a succession of blasts goes off. Alas, the Marines aren't quite so forward thinking, and they get thinned out with each blast.

04:15 (Clip 22) Over near the waterfall, I score a tag on a heavily smoking Banshee and it does an excellent spin before blowing up. There aren't even any Marine fatalities this time, wahoo!

04:22 (Clip 23) Here's more footage of Marines in action, but it doesn't end well for me. The guys bring down a Banshee with AR fire and it falls on my head. I did think something bad might be about to happen when I saw them diving clear. Johnson is not impressed. "Great, now what?"

04:28 (Clip 24) Near the tunnel entrance where I've collected the squad, a Banshee swoops down and squashes a Marine I think. But it also takes a barrage of AR fire and departs with my plasma grenade stuck to its tail, giving the pilot a nasty jolt in mid-air.

04:35 (Clip 25) Nice little comedy clip here. Johnson says "Over here!" then goes flying out of shot from a fuel rod blast. Silly geezer. Too much pointing, not enough shooting!

04:38 (Clip 26) Up on the big rock again, a Banshee swoops gracefully around the back and leaves with a fizzing blue gift on the side. There's a bit of a spin before the bang.

04:47 (Clip 27) Sorry about the sun glare here, but I thought this clip was worth including for the amusement factor; the event certainly amused me at the time. I throw a grenade at a passing Banshee, but the other one sails past the opposite way and intercepts it. Just as well too, as the grenade was going to miss.

04:54 (Clip 28) Up on the big rock, I tag a Banshee which is giving a Marine a hard time. It does the job, but the blazing wreck comes flying down right on top of Stacker and Johnson, who are just standing there looking at it. What a pair of idiots eh? I am not accepting the blame for this incident.

05:02 (Clip 29) In the central area, my tag sends an incoming Banshee into a nice spin, and the bang takes out both Banshees at once when the other foolishly flies into the blast zone. I do like a good double kill with a single plasma blast. I had one in BCM26 so I was keen to get one for this movie too.

05:08 (Clip 30) In this final clip I tag an incoming Banshee, but that's not why I included it. I included it because of the comedy that followed, which I thought would make a good amusing ending. Stacker seems to've gone a bit loopy, turning in circles. Battle fatigue? I take it upon myself to sort him out with a good klunk on the head, but he doesn't seem at all grateful: "What is wrong with you?" That's just what I was wondering about you Stacker.

Closing remarks For this my second Banshee battling movie, I created a new and more varied squad. In BCM26 my squad had included four copies of the scar-faced character model with short dark hair (all from the rockslide area), and although that didn't notice much in the action, I certainly wanted to improve things. So I made a new base save, and this time my squad only has two copies of that model. As in BCM26, all my Marines other than two I brought from the first half of the level (Johnson and the hog gunner) were from the rockslide area. It's a matter of luck as to how much duplication there is among the guys there, so it was just a case of repeating things until I got an acceptably varied bunch, including Stacker.

In creating the new base save I also made sure that the big rock at the back would be climbable, so I could always hop up there. You should definitely do that if you want to battle in this area. I also made sure the two smaller rocks were high enough to give me pretty good cover if I wanted it, though in the end, I didn't actually include any shots demonstrating their use.

The movie follows a similar plan to that of BCM26 - a full play then clips - but with a few differences. The main one was that I included some Marine watching clips for added variety and humour, something I expect to continue in later Banshee battling movies. In fact, humour was something I was going for in a more deliberate way than in BCM26, and some clips (including non-watching clips) were selected mainly or entirely for their comedy value. Another difference is that I wasn't concerned about giving all four useful weapons a decent showing. Having done that in BCM26 to showcase the possibilities, there didn't seem much point in doing so again, and instead I mainly used the AR and plasma rifle.

I have to say, taking my eye off the Banshees to get footage of the Marines proved fairly hazardous because the Banshees had a nasty habit of attacking me, frequently coming down to viciously squash me, which was darned annoying. So I'm glad I didn't need a lot of watching clips.

Something I noticed during my gameplay was that my AR quite often lacked muzzle flash. Apparently the game was having trouble coping with everything. At first I thought it was to do with the location, as I'd never noticed such trouble when doing BCM26. From the bottom of the valley a lot of scenery is in view, and I thought it might be straining the Xbox, bearing in mind that it also had to cope with my large squad plus the Banshees and a hog. Perhaps I would've got less trouble with a smaller squad, but I didn't test that, and I'd already got quite a bit of footage with my squad of nine so I didn't want to change things anyway. Instead I started using a plasma rifle more, as I wasn't noticing any loss of muzzle flash with that. However, after I finished the movie I did do some testing to try and understand what was going on, and it looks like grenades are the cause. When there are a lot of grenades in the air (more than three), AR muzzle flash can become unreliable - even in other locations far away from my squad. I suspect that the reason I didn't notice any loss of muzzle flash when doing BCM26 was that the Marines are less prone to mass fragging there.

Talking of squad size, I decided to use a large squad as in BCM26 even though I knew the eight AR guys could bring down Banshees pretty fast, making battles short. For the sake of movie entertainment and atmosphere, a lot of noise seemed good.