Pelican Marines reprieve

Posted July 21st 2006 (originally as part of the seven-extras piece)

Back on July 9th 2006, fellow cyborg Boris alerted me to how he was sometimes getting extra Marines in the first ground battle of level 5. Wow! I'd never heard of getting extra Marines before. He was namely managing to get some or all of the four Pelican Marines, which the game normally kills off before you arrive. He was earning them a reprieve, so to speak. It was something he'd noticed after doing a descent trick off the bridge and later flying back up to resume normal play. But it was unreliable, and apparently didn't work on Halo PC at all. I did some investigation and later started to understand what might be going on. Here I'll give the refined method I ended up with, which improves things but still isn't completely reliable.

However, while investigating I found a separate method for getting two or three extra Marines, and then, amazingly, seven extra Marines (among which are the four Pelican Marines). The latter windfall made Boris' method a little redundant to be honest (I feel almost apologetic), but I still want to describe it.

The method, refined

Do a descent trick off the first bridge and bring back a Banshee. Briefly fly past the Pelican Marines while firing your plasma cannons, before promptly heading up to the bridge and inside, to resume normal play. When you get out into battle, hopefully the four Pelican Marines will still be there. They'll initially be inactive, but some may activate when you approach, and others may activate later, to be able to follow you through the level.

It's still not completely reliable though. In practice, you should save the tunnel checkpoint you get after the underground bridge when flying back (preferably delay it for a while too, with Banshee firing). If you fail to get the Pelican Marines, eject the disc and reload to try again.

What's going on?

Why does it potentially work? My theory is that by firing near the Pelican Marines, they gain some sort of link with MC, most likely being officially 'aware' of his presence, even though they're currently inactive. Consequently, the game avoids removing them, which I think it would normally do at the bottom of the lift when you activate enemies in the third room. The game may be thinking something like "I want to remove these guys; but they seem to be aware of MC, so he must be close, so I'd better not remove them else the player may notice it, which would be bad". Of course, MC is actually a long way off; but possibly the inactivity of these Marines has frozen their awareness of MC to some extent.

The game has no objection to removing the original three active Marines (later to be replaced by three fresh ones), because they've lost track of MC. Sometimes the Pelican Marines may lose track too, perhaps due to some degree of randomness in Marine awareness behaviour; and so, sometimes Pelican Marines get removed and the method fails.

Ok, that's the best I can do. If anyone can shed any light on any of this, I'll be glad to hear about it.