BCM26 - Banshee battling, stream at the end of the valley

(5:30) Level 2 ('Halo') on Legendary. Relating to my Banshee battling article, this shows some battling around the stream at the end of the valley, assisted by 9 Marines including a sniper (whose shots don't actually harm the Banshees). There's a short full play then a montage of clips from other plays with various squad arrangements (but the rock geometry remains constant).

Released January 21st 2011, gameplay recorded January 11th-19th 2011.


00:02 (Full play) Into battle we go. I'm heading out of the rockslide entrance with the sniper I just picked up at the plateau, and taking a favourite route to the battle location (another is to jump off the big mound then curve right to join the stream at the intersection). It's not long before he spots the Banshees which have just spawned over the top of the cliff. And they've clearly spotted us too because there's a blast from a fuel rod gun behind us, then some blue plasma getting close to the bumper. I curve around a big rock on the right, then a tree, then get enough air to make the sniper whoop - always nice to hear. Moments later we're arriving at the defence location and I curve around to join the squad, making the sniper dismount just after I'm out.

A Banshee is already on an attack run and I throw a plasma grenade to meet it, scoring a hit and getting a scream for good measure. Screams are rare, and I wonder if it's because the grenade somehow stuck to the pilot rather than the Banshee. Meanwhile the Marines have been lobbing a bunch of frag grenades, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me but there's no talking them out of it. It's most definitely the thing to do if you're a Marine. The second Banshee comes in and this time I use the AR. It gets plenty of fire from the Marine ARs too, so it's quickly down. Pity those things aren't more robust so we could do more shooting, but never mind. It crashes to the ground and all seems peaceful, but wait… did you hear something else drop? Yep, I know that sound. BOOM! A stray frag goes off and hilariously overturns the hog onto the sniper, who seems to just stand there waiting for it. The thrower gets a remark from another Marine: "Are you blind?".

01:00 (Clip 1) I've got the Marines a lot more spread out here, from the grass on one side of the stream across to the other. The Banshee does a bit of squashing (Stacker manages to dive clear) but I tag it as it swoops past dangerously close. It mangles another Marine with a leg as it goes, but then the grenade goes off, which puts paid to any more mangling.

01:09 (Clip 2) Both Banshees come in together and I finish off the already smoking one with my plasma rifle, though my aim is initially a bit high. The other one arcs down close and my rifle overheats so I whip out a plasma and manage to stick it on the back left fin, though that doesn't save Johnson from getting mangled. The Banshee is destroyed by Marine fire a moment later, terminating the pilot's laugh rather amusingly, and the grenade gives the Banshee a nice kick on the way down. The Marines are pleased: "Nailed him!".

01:25 (Clip 3) Over at the front left, a Marine is getting a nasty peppering of plasma: "Someone take that out!". My grenade is already on the way, scoring a hit on its right leg. It arcs down and crashes into the rock before exploding. The bang takes out a Marine - oops! - and Johnson isn't too impressed. "You mind not killing my men?". I'd be lying if I said it won't happen again. I tend not to concern myself with collateral damage in these Banshee battles; it's more fun letting bad things happen.

01:33 (Clip 4) More Banshees on the way, and this time I take them down with rapid fire from a plasma pistol. The pilots shoot out nicely, especially the first. Mostly I use the plasma pistol for the fun of sending plasma balls after almost-destroyed Banshees, but I also do some standard firing such as this. It's handy for taking down a weakened Banshee at distance too, before it even gets a chance to open fire.

01:43 (Clip 5) This time I'm up on the rock at back left, which I was careful to make climbable when creating my base save (rock geometry is variable). It's a nice position for pistol use while the Banshees hopefully focus on the Marines, and this clip gives a nice example. With the first Banshee I'm slightly slow to react to its destruction in my zoomed sight, and I fire a superfluous shot. The other Banshee has already blasted a Marine, and it mangles another before I bring it down. Technically it would've been better tactics to switch my attention to the second Banshee as soon as I saw the first one flying off, but for the movie I was interested in short clips in which both Banshees get taken out. Plus I was playing for fun rather than being 'serious'. If I was playing seriously, I sure as heck wouldn't risk standing on that rock to be mown down.

01:58 (Clip 6) Ok I miss the first tag, but my second grenade sticks to the back fin and the Banshee swirls around like a dog chasing its tail, then BOOM! - the explosion sends it down the stream, over the heads of a few Marines. Nothing special about the tag, but I liked the dynamics in this clip, plus the Marine shouting "Is that the best you can do?".

02:07 (Clip 7) Back with the AR again, on a close pair of diving attackers. I'm actually firing on the one slightly further back, but as the closer one nears I feel the heat of its plasma and switch my attention, whipping out a grenade. My aim isn't great but the grenade sticks to the back fin anyway. Both Banshees arc down and crash into the scenery, and the bang destroys both. Two in one! Nice.

02:16 (Clip 8) Now I'm right up close to the front 'step' in the stream, along with most of the squad. Banshee pilots love doing a bit of squashing here, as this clip illustrates. Hear his chuckle? "Ha ha ha ha". That's an Elite who's really into his job eh? But I give him a fizzing blue going-away present which puts an end to his fun - and also takes down my shield! Ok I could've done with backing away, but I was hoping it would get clear. Meanwhile the second Banshee has arced around and comes in on a dive. I score a tag on his tail and the blast takes out the rest of the squad except for the sniper who was further back. Sorry guys, my bad.

02:33 (Clip 9) Multiple Marines do their idiotic frag-lobbing business on an incoming Banshee but I've already thrown a grenade of my own, scoring a tag on the nose. One Marine gets mangled, and then my grenade blast takes out a few more for good measure, including Johnson. What can I say - I'm on a roll.

02:40 (Clip 10) Uh-oh, those Banshees are getting squashy at that front step again. I do a bit of pistol shooting then see the opportunity for finishing off a departing attacker with a chaser shot from my plasma pistol. This wasn't a great example, as I like a Banshee to fly a bit further before getting caught, but it was good enough. Meanwhile the Marines have been lobbing frags as usual, but somehow managed to avoid blowing each other up. Woo-hoo!

02:49 (Clip 11) Stacker issues a bit of encouragement: "Keep it up!". No worries sarge. I tag the first Banshee on the front - relatively easy - then manage a more difficult throw on the second as it's coming overhead (note how far in front of the Banshee I aimed to allow for the throw time), hitting a leg. After the bang, it goes sailing down across the moon rather picturesquely.

03:02 (Clip 12) At the front left a Banshee pilot laughs as he kills a Marine. My first tag attempt misses but I see the Banshee curving around and I quickly move my aim to throw well ahead of it, scoring a hit. This sort of tag - what I call a 'curve tag' - is a bit speculative but it's by no means a matter of pure luck. I only really started getting into curve tagging while making this movie, but I plan to keep at it to try and raise my success rate. In this example the Banshee ends up flying straight into a cliff, and it looks like it's shed the grenade. I'm not sure about that but it goes off anyway and you can bet the pilot isn't laughing any more.

03:11 (Clip 13) A Banshee swoops on Marines in the stream and scythes one down, then explodes from combined AR fire as it starts to pull up. I dish out some AR fire on the second Banshee too but my clip runs dry as it climbs, and I see that it's starting to fly off, so I switch to my plasma rifle. Firing just ahead of the target, my plasma makes contact. No escape, squid-face!

03:25 (Clip 14) Banshees are marauding near the big rock at the front left, where they often do a bit of squashing. One bumps into a tree then curves down, most likely with squashing in mind. But it hits the rock and then strikes a glancing blow on the ground in a nose-down attitude, which is enough the jolt the pilot out! I think this was the first time I've actually seen pilot ejection occur, and it took me completely by surprise, especially as it occurred at ground level. My initial reaction was "Wow!", closely followed by "Quick, get some good movie footage out of this!". The Marines were busy peppering the pilot and it didn't look like he'd be lasting more than a few seconds, so I just charged forth with the plasma rifle, which would at least get me a closer view of him. In retrospect I think he might've survived long enough for me to run up and smack him on the nose, or perhaps I could've got amusing footage by throwing a frag his way or tagging him, but it all happened so fast, and then he was dead (and so was some bozo who got taken out by a wayward frag).

03:33 (Clip 15) "Taking heavy fire!". A Banshee arcs down and mangles Sergeant Stacker but gets held up by a tree, presenting me with a fine opportunity for sticking a plasma grenade to the paintwork. I come over all generous and give it a double dose just for fun (actually a single plasma doesn't always destroy a Banshee, though it would have here because of all the AR fire). As it flies off it mangles Sergeant Johnson, and then the first grenade destroys it and takes out two Marines. Oops! A nearby Marine takes me to task for my questionable combat skills: "Are you blind?".

03:42 (Clip 16) …Roger that. Two Banshees cruise in above the stream, both sending plasma my way. So hey, I'll send a little something back, right? I throw two plasmas, getting the furthest Banshee on the nose and catching the slightly closer one on the underside (both of my throws are a touch low). Meanwhile Stacker is playing with some high explosive of his own: "It is ovverrr!". It certainly will be over soon if you keep lobbing those frags around like that Stacker, you idiot! The first Banshee isn't actually destroyed by the tag; it's finished off by an AR round from a Marine. You can just about see it, and in any case you can hear that the Banshee explosion was after the plasma bang.

03:52 (Clip 17) Standing at the back left with the Marines, a first Banshee head past and takes a barrage of AR fire. It would've got a lot more if those bozos weren't so busy lobbing frags! I start to fire on the second when it comes into view, but then I see that it's curving away so I go for an ambitious curve tag, hoping to intercept it as it departs. Bingo! There's an element of luck of course, especially bearing in mind that the Banshee does a bit of jinking about, but the grenade is in the right general area and the Banshee collects it on its right leg - perhaps while trying to avoid it. I already showed a curve tag in clip 12 but this example takes things a step further, with the tag being significantly further away - plus I liked how the pilot got vocal.

04:03 (Clip 18) At the front step in the stream, a pilot enjoys a squashing spree and makes a right mess of my squad, taking out six Marines I think (one guy manages to dive clear to the right). But he doesn't have things all his own way. He leaves with a little something from yours truly, and pretty soon he's toast.

04:11 (Clip 19) I'm on the big rock at back left again, this time having having a go with a plasma pistol. With the slow shot speed it's hardly ideal, but at least it makes things more challenging. The first Banshee has just been destroyed but now the other swoops in aggressively and scythes down five Marines with frankly impressive technique. Stacker's getting nervous: "I can't fight this thing alone!". Don't worry Stacker, cyborg's on the case! I completely miss a tag as the Banshee starts to rise, but then it swoops around close by me and gets a grenade on the underside. After a moment the Banshee starts to swirl - as they sometimes do when tagged - and the bang shunts it downwards in appealing fashion.

04:23 (Clip 20) Near the big rock at front left, a Banshee dives in on my squad but meets up with a plasma grenade before it can do much damage. It curves down and goes into that shuddering motion you sometimes see (usually when they're diving steeply), leaving corkscrew-like trails. I have the impression this happens when a Banshee is straining at the limit of its manoeuvring abilities; or at any rate that's what it looks like. The pilot ends up shooting off nicely but the bang also takes out Johnson, who was down in the stream. My tag was fairly straightforward and I mostly included this clip because of the shudder with its pretty corkscrew trails, which you don't often see at close range.

04:30 (Clip 21) A Banshees swoops in for a spot of Marine mangling. Well why not? It's a lovely sunny day. Among the victims is Stacker, whose dive is not enough to save him. The enemy action gets a Marine mad: "You're dead, you hear me, you're dead!". But vengeance is already at hand, courtesy of the plasma grenade I stuck to the side as the Banshee passed. It goes into an excellent swirl and then BOOM! - justice is done.

04:37 (Clip 22) Standing near the back step of the stream, a Banshee sends plasma my way and I give it some pistol fire. At the last moment I step aside to avoid it, simultaneously tagging it on the leg. Olé! It curves up and around in a beautiful arc, taking AR fire as it goes, and then explodes from the grenade. The grenade went off just in time as the Banshee was almost done for by then. I think just a few more AR rounds would've cooked it.

04:46 (Clip 23) I'm in the stream again, but this time quite near the front step where the squad is predominantly located. A fuel rod blast sails down, killing a Marine and sending the hog over. Another Marine cries "Medic!", but somehow I don't think medical attention would help the recently deceased. I do some AR drilling as the Banshee curves down and prangs itself on the bank. My fire destroys it a fraction of a second before another fuel rod blast arrives, killing a second Marine. But this second Banshee is already smoking and my AR fire finishes it off as it flies overhead.

04:57 (Clip 24) More action near the front step of the stream. A first Banshee approaches on a shallow trajectory sending plasma my way, but I get a bit of cover from the rock on the left bank as I move forwards and throw a plasma, tagging it on the leg. Surprisingly, no Marines get mangled, and the bang doesn't kill any either. Must be their lucky day! When I see the Marines all firing like crazy I realize I need to shift my attention to Banshee number two. I turn left to find it heading almost straight for me. Yikes! I could so easily have been a goner here but it seems like it's my lucky day too, as the leg just misses my head. The Banshee rises in a bid to get clear, but by now it's got a grenade fizzing away on the front: a little memento of our close encounter. That puts a bit of a stopper on the escape plan and it curves down and around, exploding as it reaches the ground behind a tree. I just love how that looks.

05:10 (Clip 25) Final clip! I'm at the back left and one Banshee is down, but another pilot is on an attack run giving the Marines a bit of a toasting. But while he's doing this there's already a plasma grenade heading his way, and he screams in anguish as I score a hit. If you look at the footage, the grenade seems to pass through the Banshee's nose somehow, so I suspect it actually tagged the pilot (possibly there's a collision detection issue here). My second throw misses but that doesn't matter; the first is enough. BOOM! The Banshee explodes high up and falls to the ground right in front of me. I deliberately let it land close for effect; actually I think I remained right where I stood. The pilot lands nearby, and after a few moments a Marine provides the perfect ending: "You like that?".

Closing remarks After shooting my last three movies in the snow of level 5, I figured it was time for a change of scenery. Some lush greenery perhaps? I always suspected that these level 2 Banshee battles could make for some good movie footage, and I wasn't disappointed. The spectacular battling in this picturesque location gave me a load of great footage to choose from, and I'm really pleased with the result.

Originally I was trying hard to keep the movie under five minutes, but eventually I let things run a bit longer because there were further clips I really wanted to include and I didn't want to sacrifice any already selected. Sequencing the clips was a bit of a juggling act because of how I wanted the movie to play. Among other things, I wanted the action to keep shifting around and I wanted to keep the weaponry varying as best I could, though the AR was always going to appear the most, being my favourite weapon for the battling.

If you're wondering why there isn't any chain-gunning in the movie, that's just because I'm not in the habit of using it in these battles. They're short enough already, without the chain-gun wiping out the threat inside ten seconds; plus I don't like being a sitting duck for fuel rod blasts. It did cross my mind to include a bit of chain-gun action anyway, just for the spectacle and a spot of variation, but in the end I decided to keep to normal weaponry, reflecting how I play things.

The full play I used is a rather short one which doesn't have much footage of the Marines in action, but I wanted things short anyway because I knew I'd have a lot of good clips to pack in afterwards. The comedy aspect at the end of that play made it the obvious choice, and I couldn't really resist it even if the 'battle' was barely a skirmish this time. Usually things would go on longer, though it has to be said that eight Marines with ARs are actually powerful enough to finish off the Banshees quite quickly even on their own. Maybe I'll use fewer Marines in later Banshee battling movies (yep, there'll be more), but for this one I deliberately went for the maximum eight you'd have with a standard base save, as described in my article.

After I got the ejected pilot seen in clip 14, I played some more in that area hoping to cause further ejections. I eventually got one when a Banshee bumped into the left cliffside about halfway up, but he landed quite a way off in the stream (towards the lifeboat) and the resulting footage wasn't concise enough for the movie. With the first ejection I'd completely forgotten to check whether the Banshee was boardable, though I wouldn't have expected it to be (long ago I came across an empty one near the start of the level, and it wasn't). This time I checked, and as expected, it wasn't boardable. Anyway, perhaps I'll have some ejected pilots in later Banshee battling movies - though I suspect that ejections are less likely to occur in other areas.

Before this I hadn't done any Banshee battling for a long time. I can't remember doing an awful lot of tagging, but this time I really got into that side of things and my movie ended up turning into something of a tag-fest. Of course, Banshee destruction is always glorious to see no matter how it happens. I just love the way those things explode and how the pilot flies out. But when the destruction is by tagging, that makes things even more satisfying I think. So you can expect plenty of that in my next Banshee battling movie too!