Forgiven cyborg

Posted September 8th 2005

As you're doubtless aware, killing a few Marines causes the rest to turn on you with cries of "He's gone looney!" and suchlike. What you may not know is that if you wait long enough, they'll grudgingly let you back into their ranks with warnings like "Don't try that again!". I only finally realized this after toying around on Easy one day, but it actually goes for all difficulty levels. Presumably it's Bungie's way of giving you a chance to return to normal play, having learned the lesson that you're not supposed to shoot the guys in green. Read on for more detail.

Trouble on the beach

My experiments took place on the Silent Cartographer island after fighting the excellent beach battle. On Easy you're liable to have all 9 Marines left to play with, and if you kill 2 that's enough to become cyborg non grata. Bullets and hollering ensue. "Kill that armoured freak!". Approximately 74 seconds later the Marines grudgingly forgive you, nasty red dots returning to a nice welcoming yellow. They practically all speak at once (if you're in sight), giving a chorus of warnings. Here are the lines I've heard:

  • Don't try that again!
  • Try that again, you're history!
  • I got my eye on you.
  • I'm keepin' my eye on you punk!
  • I'm keepin' my eye on you.
  • I trust you as far as I can throw you!
  • You think I'm trustin' you you're stupid.
  • I'll trust you for now.
  • Yeah I'll trust you… for now.
  • I trust you… for now.
  • You can come but I ain't trustin' you.
  • You can come but I'm watchin' every move you make.
  • Yeah he can come but I'm watchin' you.
  • I am watchin' you.
  • I don't want any more trouble out of you.

It's quite odd to hear so many voices overlapping. Strangely, that first chorus tends to be followed by another a moment later. Maybe they just want to make things very clear! If you're out of sight when the dots return to yellow, you don't seem to get a chorus of lines until the Marines see or hear you again.

Doing your time

It seems that the more Marines you kill, the longer you have to wait for forgiveness. Stands to reason I guess, in a questionable Marine-logic sort of way. On Easy, if you kill 2 it's around 74 seconds like I said. With 3 it's around 110. With 4 it's around 150. With 8 we're up to around 5 minutes.

It also seems that the higher the difficulty level, the longer the wait. Killing 2 on Normal, I had to wait almost 2 minutes before the guys lost the urge to bounce bullets off my shiny tin plating. On Heroic it was around 5 minutes, and on Legendary around 11.

In fact, putting all the collected data together and feeding it into our giant computer for analysis, Bad Cyborg can exclusively reveal the true worth of a Marine life in seconds! On Easy, each Marine costs you about 37 seconds of waiting for forgiveness. On Normal it's about 55, on Heroic 145, and on Legendary 325. Life's cheap in the army.

Because of the long waits with those higher difficulty levels, which I assume to be the usual fare of complete Halo fruit-loops like you and I, it's no wonder I never realized you could get forgiven; and I suspect I'm far from alone there. Another aspect is that if you fire back during your wait (and who wouldn't?), it tends to extend the wait required.

Coming soon on the 'useless information' front: MC infiltrates Covenant ranks to establish the average inside leg measurement of an Elite. But getting them to stand still for the tape measure turns out to be more than a little tricky!

Sudden mood swing

Forgiveness can come even in the middle of a Marine bullet barrage. One moment it's bullets and abuse, the next it's make-up time. You can check this by running in amongst the Marines as the wait is nearing its end. This is no trouble on Easy as you can survive such exposure for quite a while, but I wouldn't recommend it on Legendary!

Uh-oh, he's gone looney again

After being accepted back, you can kill a few more and go through the whole thing again; e.g. kill 2 more on Easy and you've got another 74 second wait. The poor misguided knuckleheads will keep on forgiving you, which seems awfully generous under the circumstances. I guess it really is a case of 'forgive and forget'. Still, by the time you've taken out 4 pairs of Marines and been forgiven 4 times, I imagine the remaining guy must be starting to feel a little foolish. Cue one of my favourite Grunt lines: "Hey wait a minute…". Yep, it's just you and the 7ft cyborg now buddy! Fancy your chances?

Southern charm

When killing Marines here, I suggest you leave Sergeant Stacker till last. He's the guy in the cap, and as mentioned in the rockslide megabattle section (see I love this job!), he's pretty funny, such as with his "I trust you as far as I can throw you!" line. Several of the lines I listed are only delivered by him. Whilst attacking you, there's another good line of his to listen out for: "Bust him up good!". I hadn't heard that one before. Also, if you care to let him kill you, you may hear a jaunty "Well, on to plan B!".

Another amusing line occurred after letting him kill me with the Warthog's chain-gun after I'd eliminated the rest of the squad bit by bit and been forgiven multiple times. He glanced back at the scene of my crimes and said "What happened over there?". Hilarious; and it's also a great advert for the AI and voice programming that he could recognize a bad situation and comment on it, even if his memory was a little short.

Splish splash

Incidentally, another thing to do here is to get a Marine sufficiently close to death's door to start chasing you along the beach, to experience the sound of bullets whistling past you into the water, making excellent splash sounds. Actually you can also experience some of that when Marines shoot at you from within the group, especially on the higher difficulty levels when they're more aggressive. Effects like this make things so immersive and believable; the craft in this game continues to amaze me.

Slightly less believable is when you let a Marine chase you out into deep water. He'll keep on coming even when several feet under; and if you wait long enough, he'll forgive you underwater as well. "Stop… glub glub… shooting me!". Ok so he doesn't really say that, but he ought to. After that, you can potentially see him walking slowly out of the deep. Creepy.

Marine tolerance

One thing that became clear during my time on the beach was that when the Marines are fighting the Covenant, or perhaps even when the Covenant are merely in sight or nearby, they'll tolerate many more deaths at your hands than otherwise. If you lay into the Marines with your AR as soon as you get off the Pelican, you'll probably have to kill at least 4 before they decide you've gone bananas. I imagine Bungie is allowing for more 'accidents' in the heat of battle. When there's no Covenant around, you've got rather less excuse for mowing down your compatriots!

Shoot me too

After all that fun in the sand, I followed up with some experimentation in the rolling hills of level 2, Halo. In particular I was hoping to hear some original lines from Sarge, who missed out on the beach landing. But the only new forgiveness line I heard was "I don't want any more trouble from you.", a minor variation of something heard on the beach. However, one amusing thing I did encounter was a great line from one of the cowardly engineers after I'd shot a few Marines: "Shoot me too - I don't want the aliens to get me!".

And finally…

Finally, just in case you're wondering what I was doing toying around on Easy in the first place, read about Watch mode.