Halo – Top 10 Covenant Ship Classes

One of the most instantly recognisable aspects of Halo besides Master Chief and the Halos themselves is the Covenant. The bright and ornate weapons, the multicoloured armour of the alien soldiers and particularly the sleek curved metallic purple aesthetic of the ships and technology that define the Covenant have become closely tied to Halo’s identity. Covenant ships, in particular, have become iconic staples of the franchise, as both terrifying adversaries and, in recent games, powerful occasional allies. Welcome to the Top Ten Covenant Ship Classes, starting with:

#10 – CRS-class Light Cruiser

A small and compact version of the familiar Covenant cruiser design, the CRS-class light cruiser is a tiny cousin of the CCS-class battlecruiser, the mainline Covenant warship during the war against mankind. Despite this, humans didn’t see much of the CRS-class during the war, as it was primarily used for patrol and support duties within the borders of Covenant space. It was only following the Great Schism and the fall of the Covenant, when opportunistic Sangheili and Jiralhanae warlords began pillaging former Covenant space for assets, that the CRS-class began to see widespread use as a mainline warship. Jul ‘Mdama’s Covenant Remnant faction in particular made use of this kind of ship in its fleet, meaning it was primarily seen during the events of Halo 4.

#9 – Sangheili Man O’ War

This tiny post-Covenant warship was used extensively by Covenant Remnant factions following the fall of the Covenant as the design dates back centuries. Due to a shortage of mainline Covenant ships after years of infighting, various Sangheili factions began to manufacture their own ships from traditional designs updated with modern technology. The result is a compact light warship that makes full use of Sangheili mastery of warship design coupled with the power of the reverse-engineered Forerunner technology of the Covenant, and at present the full capabilities of this warship have not been fully explored. The Arbiter used a fleet of them as escort ships during the Battle of Sunaion on Sanghelios, suggesting that they run rings around traditional Covenant warships due to their nimble mobility.

#8 – SDV-class Heavy Corvette

A small ship used primarily for escort duties, the most famous SDV-class heavy corvette to Halo players is the Ardent Prayer, the ship that Jorge-052 and Noble Six hijack and use to destroy the Supercarrier Long Night of Solace during Halo: Reach. During that mission we get a detailed look at the inside of an SDV-class with key areas like the main hangar, the bridge and the communications room being explored in-depth by Noble Six. The SDV-class also proves that it is more than capable of taking on and destroying a Human Frigate, as the UNSC Savannah meets an unfortunate end during ship-to-ship combat with the Ardent Prayer after a fierce fight. SDV-class Corvettes saw more use as a mainline warship after the war, as Covenant Remnant factions began to grow desperate and push escort craft into a more mainline role following the Great Schism.

#7 – CPV-class Heavy Destroyer

This distinctive Covenant vessel was a medium-sized destroyer used for ship-to-ship combat and the arduous planet-glassing process that often following Covenant military victories. As such, they became a common target for UNSC firepower and thousands of these ships met their end during the war, though their heavy armour and deadly weapons meant that many went down with several kills to their name. Though they are not seen as commonly during the main Halo games, as infantry tended to see more of the carrier class ships like the CAS that were focused on troop deployment, the CPV-class Heavy Destroyer would have been a common sight for UNSC Navy personnel in space battles, and they were almost as feared as the CCS-class battlecruiser.

#6 – Sangheili Brigantine

An ancient, massive class of carrier used by the Sangheili during their early pre-Covenant years, the Brigantine design was re-purposed following the fall of the Covenant to serve as a replacement for the increasingly rare CAS-class Carrier. Ironically, the Bringantine is actually larger and more powerful than its Covenant-era predecessor, and as the Elites have built the new ships to modern specifications, including Covenant technology, the Brigantine is a powerful ship to contend with. Luckily for humanity, it would seem that most of these ships currently belong to the Swords of Sanghelios under the command of the Arbiter, although Cortana’s Created may be manufacturing more of these ships for their new Covenant Remnant allies.

#5 – Sangheili Carrack

This large capital ship was once a mainline of pre-Covenant Sangheili fleets, but fell out of use as a warship following the War of Beginnings and would later serve as merchant ships. In modern times, the Carrack design has been reclaimed by ex-Covenant warlords for their fleets, so it is seeing widespread use for the first time in centuries, albeit a version upgraded with modern technology. Unlike modern Covenant ships, older Sangheili ships tended to be single-purpose, but the Carrack is an example of a multi-purpose ship that serves as both a carrier and a cruiser. This is likely the main design of post-Covenant warship that players will encounter in Halo: Infinite, although depending on how much time has passed since the events of Halo 5, things may have changed.

#4 – Sangheili Blockade Runner

Of all the ancient Sangheili ship design that have been resurrected by post-Covenant Sangheili factions, the Blockade Runner is perhaps the one that most closely resembles the later Covenant-era warships, suggesting that this is the ship that would go on to most heavily inspire the shipwrights of the Covenant. The model of Sangheili Blockade Runner seen in the games is the Hekar Taa-pattern design, a versatile corvette with powerful armaments that is known for its fast and aerodynamic design. The Swords of Sanghelios made extensive use of this design of ship around the time of Halo 5: Guardians.

#3 – CSO-class Supercarrier

A behemoth of a Covenant carrier, the CSO-class is perhaps most famous for its role in the Fall of Reach, as the supercarrier Long Night of Solace was only destroyed at the cost of Jorge, several Sabres and a UNSC Frigate, and dozens more appeared through Slipspace immediately following this, signalling imminent doom for the forces on the planet below. Visually, this class of supercarrier resembles an up-scaled version of the more commonly seen CAS-class carriers, although it dwarfs the vast majority of other Covenant ships as this gigantic capital ship is capable of transporting entire occupation forces single-handed, meaning a fleet of them is more than capable of taking on an entire solar system of enemy defences. The only downside to the CSO-class is, perhaps, its unwieldiness – and the fact that it presents such a massive target means that it is vulnerable to sneak attacks like the one Noble team executed against the Long Night of Solace.

#2 – CAS-class Carrier

The most common type of carrier seen during the Human-Covenant war, the CAS-class carrier struck fear into the hearts of any Human for decades, as the sight of these ships in the sky usually signalled imminent death. The bulk of Covenant infantry were transported via CAS-class carriers, so they often presented a valuable target for the UNSC. Perhaps the most famous ship of this class is the Shadow of Intent, a carrier that was stolen from the Brutes by none other than Shipmaster Rtas ‘Vadum and used as his flagship for the waning days of the Human-Covenant war, transporting Human forces to the Ark and evacuating all Human and Elite forces once the battle was over. After the war, the CAS=class carrier was a sought-after asset, as so many had been destroyed during the Great Schism that they were now exceedingly rare.

#1 – CCS-class Battlecruiser

The mainline Covenant warship for much of its existence, the CCS-class battlecruiser was a formidable warship capable of taking on almost any UNSC ship single-handed and prevailing. These ships were designed to be multipurpose vessels for both space combat and planetary occupation, so they were fast, heavily armed and able to transport hundreds of ground troops. Though many were used during the Human-Covenant war to devastate Human fleets, they were a rare sight after the Covenant’s fall. During the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, two missions are primarily set in the belly of the CCS-class cruiser Truth and Reconciliation, presenting a unique opportunity to explore the interior of this iconic Covenant vessel. Overall, though it may not be as massive as the CSO-class or as sought-after as a CAS-class, the CCS-class battlecruiser is undoubtedly the go-to Covenant warship for its speed, versatility and powerful weapons. Sadly, it is likely that no more of these ships will be seen in future Halo games, as the Great Schism saw many destroyed. However, this ship will always be what fans immediately think of when people think of ‘Covenant Warships’.

Read More

Star Trek – Picard logo Revealed

As the Picard TV series was officially announced as being titled Star Trek: Picard recently, interest has certainly sprung up around the man himself. The fact that the series is clearly focusing specifically on the character of Picard is interesting, but there is a factor that many have failed to take into account. The naming convention of Star Trek shows is usually tied to the titular ship of the series, as is the case with Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Enterprise, or the primary setting, as is the case with Deep Space Nine. Could the fact that this new series is titled Star Trek: Picard suggest that the TNG Captain is now commanding a ship named after himself?

Well, perhaps not. After all, Jean-Luc Picard’s debut series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, breaks the consistent naming trend and the fact that Patrick Stewart announced the return of Captain Picard as the primary focus of the series, it is likely that this new spinoff will also break the tradition. However, it would certainly be interesting to see what the future holds for Captain Picard, and he is certainly a deserving candidate for having a ship named after him. As for the actual logo itself, it is stylised very well, and the fact that the show is named Star Trek: Picard is perhaps what everyone expected, so fans are satisfied – for now.

Read More

Doctor Who – NEW Big Finish audio brings back Classic Who’s most infamous Supreme Dalek

Needless to say fans are excited about the return of this popular Dalek, but why is this particular Supreme Dalek so special?

Although the Daleks feature prominently in many of Big Finish’s Doctor Who Spinoff Audios, such as the Time War audios, it is a relatively rare occurence for the Daleks to feature in the monthly range. As the range approaches its 20th Birthday this year, it is interesting to look back on how the range has used the Daleks sparingly in the past compared to the current incarnation of the TV series. However, since it has been over a year since the last Monthly Range Dalek story, fans were teased with the title of August’s monthly release earlier this year, a Sixth Doctor story with the title: ‘Emissary of the Daleks’.

Fans are always quick to begin theorising over what the latest ‘of the Daleks’ buzzword actually means, with varying degrees of success. So far, all we really know about the story itself is that it stars the Sixth Doctor and Peri, and has something to do with someone acting as a go-between for the Daleks and another race, although even that is somewhat of a vague premise. All that changed with the reveal of the cover art, the first example of a Monthly Range Dalek story using the new Series 11 branding and logo, but the thing that really has fans talking is the inclusion of a specific and infamous Dalek on the cover – the Dalek Council Representative from Planet of the Daleks.

For those not in the know, this specific Supreme Dalek appeared in the 1973 Jon Pertwee story after Dalek activity on the planet Spiridon was disrupted by the Doctor, Jo and several Thals. Arriving on the planet in dramatic fashion in one of the most impressive uses of spaceship model shots in the era, the Supreme Dalek certainly made its mark on viewers with its unique appearance. The prop used for this Supreme was one of Terry Nation’s Movie Daleks painted black and gold, meaning that it is one of the most unique Daleks to appear in Classic Who and, in typical Classic Supreme style, he never appeared again after his first appearance.

Needless to say fans are excited about the return of this popular Dalek, but a logical question to ask would be: Why is this particular Supreme Dalek so special? After all, there were many Supreme Daleks in the Classic series, and there have been even more since the revival. The answer is in this Supreme Dalek’s attitude – thoughout Planet of the Daleks this Supreme is particularly ruthless – even by Dalek standards. He brutally murders his immediate subordinate for failing to capture the Doctor, and very nearly wipes out the entire population of the planet. After being thwarted and having his ship stolen by Thals, the Supreme Dalek is last seen plotting revenge of swearing the supremacy of the Dalek race, setting up a rematch with the Doctor that, sadly, never occured on-screen.

However, this distinctive Dalek Commander will hopefully be getting his chance at payback in Big Finish’s Emissary of the Daleks, as since we have never seen another Supreme Dalek quite like this one, there is a good chance that it is actually the same character. If so, this will be a rare example of a specific Dalek recurring in multiple stories. As the Dalek occupation of Spiridon was thwarted in another Big Finish story, it will be interesting to see what this Supreme has been up to, and given the sign warning of dangerous ‘Vitanium’ mining on the cover, it would seem this Supreme hasn’t lost his perhant for exploiting the natural resources of innocent planets. Hopefully Nick Briggs will also give his best shot at imitating the Pertwee-era Daleks’ distinctive voices as the pièce de résistance of this exciting-looking Dalek story.

Read More

How to Fix – Halo: Reach

Welcome to another article in our How to Fix series, a collection of features dedicated to outlining the main issues with the story of a film, game, TV show episode or book and suggesting ideas of how to effectively ‘fix’ it. As stated in previous installments of this series, the subject in question does not necessarily have to be something that is already bad – a prime example of a How to Fix article covering a title that is already of a decent standard is this one. Halo: Reach is without a doubt a legendary game. With a community that is still active to this day, and the recent announcement of a PC release that is likely to lengthen this game’s already impressive post-launch lifespan, the game is still a popular title even nearly ten years after its release. And yet, as popular and enduring as Bungie’s final Halo title is, there is still a lot about the story of the Campaign in particular that can be improved. So, how could Halo: Reach be fixed?

reach story.jpg

Story and Campaign

Though epic in its scope and powerful in its delivery, Halo: Reach’s story does leave something to be desired by the end, especially after multiple playthroughs. The early story is gripping as it peppers multiple clues about Halsey and the Covenant through the various missions – the discovery of Halsey’s data in the first mission, to meeting Halsey herself, and then after that being chosen by Cortana to get her to the Pillar of Autumn so that the story of Halo: Combat Evolved can kick off. But there are many aspects to the story, particularly later on, that are unexplained, and plot threads left unanswered. Some of these are smaller, more nitpicky things such as ‘Why do Emile and Jorge hate each other?’ and ‘What was Carter and Kat’s prior history?’ that are never truly resolved as the various characters die before their stories can progress. Whilst this does add to the shock factor and warfare immersion initially, as it keeps the player on their toes and reminds them that warfare isn’t kind, but after multiple runs through the story you expect the deaths to come and yet there is still no way of expanding on the character’s backstory.

As for the campaign itself, the gameplay is almost perfect – there really isn’t much to fix here, as Halo: Reach has some of the largest and most intricate levels in all of the Bungie games, and despite not featuring any Flood or Forerunner enemies, the game still manages to make the levels feel varied as it features the most Covenant enemy varieties of any Halo game to date, even beating Halo 2. That being said, as with many later Halo games, your allies do not feel as useful in this game as they did in previous titles. Although your Noble squadmates feature in some levels as AI bots to help you through the mission, in a manner similar to that of the Arbiter in Halo 3, they are not exactly masters of aiming precisely on target – in fact, one might go so far as to say that the Noble team AI is almost totally pointless, and the Marines actually offer better support to the player in missions than their Spartan compatriots do. Not only that, but the AI driving for Noble Team seems to be particularly bad – an infamous example of this being Kat’s godawful attempts at keeping the Rocket Hog steady during the run on the AA Guns in Tip of the Spear, only to topple both herself and the player off a cliff.

reach multiplayer.jpg

Multiplayer

Although Halo: Reach’s multiplayer is perhaps one of the most treasured of all the Halo games, and the recent announcement that it is coming to PC via the MCC has fans ecstatic, upon its initial release the game was met with a mixed reception from fans, who called it too far of a deviation from the classic Halo formula to be considered a ‘true’ Halo game. They were of course referring to the additions of armour abilities, specifically Sprint and Armour Lock, which were quite radical additions to the Halo sandbox at the time but, in hindsight nearly 10 years later, these pale in comparison to some of the additions that Halos 4 and 5 would go on to add, so by comparison it doesn’t look as bad – although the dreaded firefight-stalling pace-shattering Armour Lock still remains one of the games most controversial features.

As for the maps, there are plenty – although almost all are sourced from either the Campaign missions, or Forge World map variants. This is not necessarily an issue in itself – after all, Forge World is a really diverse map and, as previously discussed, the Campaign does involve a variety of different terrains and arenas, so the developers definitely had plenty to source from. The main problem with Reach’s maps is the lack of specialising particular maps for particular kinds of game – with the addition of Sprint, as well as Anti-Vehicle Armour Abilities such as Jetpack and Armour Lock, many of Reach’s maps moved away from map control and layout memorisation. This is further exacerbated by the inclusion of Loadouts, though these are not present in all game modes online, and in recent years the Reach multiplayer seems to have moved away from Loadouts and Armour Abilities and more towards emulating the classic Halo style in some game modes, suggesting that they have taken fan criticism to heart.

falcon.jpg

Weapon and Vehicle Sandbox

Though there is no denying that Halo: Reach had a fantastic weapons sandbox, including a diverse variety of new weapons such as the Grenade Launcher, Focus Rifle, Concussion Rifle, Plasma Launcher and the legendary Target Locator, one of the essential elements missing from Reach’s weapons sandbox is specialisation – many of the weapons have counterparts that do a similar or, in some cases, the exact same job. Examples of this include the DMR and the Needle Rifle, both one-shot weapons capable of landing headshots and good for medium-long range aiming, the Plasma Rifle and the Spiker, both two-handed automatic Covenant weapons with a similar rate of fire, and the Concussion Rifle and Grenade Launcher, both of which are short-range explosive weapons for clearing out large areas. Some weapons do have special traits, such as the Needle Rifle’s supercombine and the Grenade Launcher’s EMP, but overall some more diversity in the weapons sandbox might have been better – the DMR is a solid rifle, but the Battle Rifle reigns supreme.

Speaking of notable absences from Reach, many previous Halo vehicles are absent from Reach’s sandbox, including the Chopper, Prowler, Spectre, Hornet and Elephant – and although there are some new vehicles, like the Revenant and the Falcon, overall Reach’s vehicles seems to be the only aspect of the game in which it feels like there is actually less content than there was before. This would begin a trend in Halo games up until Halo 5: Guardians in which the number of Covenant vehicles usable in the game is drastically reduced, which is a shame considering that they are among the most fun vehicles to drive. As always, the Banshee, Ghost and Wraith all feature, and Reach’s Banshee has the best handling of all the Bungie Banshees – but unfortunately, the addition of the limited boost feature for all three vehicles has significantly reduced their effectiveness. Overall, Reach’s vehicles are perhaps its game’s biggest shortcoming, but there are two particular vehicles of note in the game, ironically the two vehicles original to the game mentioned earlier, the Falcon and the Revenant. The Falcon is an instant fan-favourite, the ‘team troop carrier’ that was ideal for Capture the Flag getaways – although there should have been an option to turn on the pilot’s main weapon and the inner passenger seats for Custom Games. As for the Revenant, it is hilariously fun to drive and finds a sensible middle ground between the Ghost’s speed and the Wraith’s firepower. Plus, it has a passenger seat!

forge world

Conclusion

All things considered, Halo: Reach is definitely one of the best Halo games in its own right, as it remains one of the most unique and creative Halo games in history and definitely a fitting sendoff for Bungie. The inclusion of Reach into MCC, and the concurrent and long-awaited release of Reach on PC, is definitely good news for fans. Overall, the issues that Reach experienced early on were mostly due to sudden and unexpected changes that fans weren’t happy with but, in hindsight, Reach seems far closer to the earlier Bungie games like Halo 3 now that the new pariah of the franchise, Halo 5: Guardians, has released. No prizes for guessing what the next Halo How To Fix will be about…

Read More

 

 

Halo 3 Multiplayer – Top 5 Halo 3 Maps

Halo 3’s multiplayer  is one of the most fondly remembered of all the classic Halo games, and the recently news that it will finally be coming to PC after over 10 years has many fans excited. In light of the recent announcement of Halo: The Master Chief Collection on PC, we’re counting down the Top 5 Maps in Halo 3 Multiplayer – discounting remakes, for now…

narrows.jpg

#5 – Narrows

This map usually leads to games that are best described as hilariously frantic. Considering the fact that many players will stick to the upper level of Narrow’s ‘bridge’, the actual play-space of this map is actually quite small. As a result it is best suited for small arena-style games, but usually ends up being used for 4v4 matches. Whether or not this is a good thing depends on your point of view – on the one hand, Narrow’s multiple paths can lead to some interesting strategies with 4 players on a team, including a two-pronged assault on the opposite side using the gravity cannons and the lower bridge to take the enemy by surprise. However, if both teams are disorganised matches can end up with both teams just mincing each other in a war of attrition (usually involving frag grenades). Overall, if you’re using it for the right kind of game, Narrows is easily one of the best maps in the game – small but packed with potential. The map design is reminiscent of Gephyrophobia, a Halo: CE PC map involving a huge bridge over a cavernous chasm, although Narrows is a far more downsized affair that involves no vehicles. Then again, adding a Banshee to the map might make things interesting…

sandtrap.jpg

#4 – Sandtrap

Speaking of vehicle maps, none of them hold a candle to Sandtrap, a map designed with vehicles in mind. The most memorable and exciting feature of this map is the Elephants, gigantic UNSC transport vehicles that serve as drive-able mobile bases that can make for some creative and interesting matches. Players have also created entire gametypes around the Elephants, such as a Pirate game in which both teams are disallowed from touching the sand and must use the Elephants as makeshift boarding vessels. However, Sandtrap has much more to it than just these vehicles – almost every vehicle in the game can be featured on this map (depending on settings) and the huge size makes for some hectic gameplay. The ring design makes races a common social gametype for this map, and even if vehicular combat isn’t your style, the semi-submerged Forerunner ruins in the map make excellent hiding spots. Inquisitive players who delve deeper into the ruins may find themselves rewarded with better power weapons, the Sniper Rifle being a particularly deadly example.

guardian.jpg

#3 – Guardian

This is perhaps one of the most popular maps in Halo 3, simply because of its versatility. Being set in a strange arena-shaped structure suspended among humongous trees in a Forerunner forest, the map has a very distinct identity both in terms of its aesthetic and its gameplay. This map is very reminiscent of previous Halo arena maps such as Lockout and Wizard, and like all good Halo maps it has excellent vertical movement options. The Gravity Hammer placed at the very bottom-centre of the map is usually the thing that players rush for when a game starts, making for some intense combat in the confined lower area of the map. Another spot that seems to attract frantic fights is the area around the gravity lift, as well as the central arena – a combination of a Shotgun and Needler nearby often leads to teams trying to wrestle control of that area early on. As for the visual design of the map, you couldn’t ask for a better setting – the forest harks back to several iconic levels from Halo: CE and Halo 2, and the bright grey Forerunner structures break up the greens and browns of the various trees.

the pit.jpg

#2 – The Pit

A classic Halo arena, The Pit is relatively simple in its aesthetic, being set not on an ancient Forerunner facility but instead in a simple military training ground on a human planet – but it is also surprisingly complex in its actual level design. What at first appears to be a simple setup disguises an intricate maze of power positions and weapon placements, and experienced players know the best areas of the map to defend or set up an ambush. Due to its various tight corridors that surround an open exposed playspace, the map is particularly good for free-for-all matches or games with particularly large teams – Halo is known for its hectic firefights over power weapons, and The Pit is a great map for this. Overall, as arenas go, The Pit has a bit of everything – wide open spaces, tight enclosed corridors, hidden power weapons and some great opportunities for intense firefights.

high ground

Honourable Mention – High Ground

A favourite for objective or assault-style games involving one team attacking and the other defending, High Ground is set in an abandoned UNSC base near the coastline, and the fact that the facility has clearly seen action in the past opens up some creative strategies for assaulting the base, as a full-frontal assault on the main gate is usually not the best way to go – that is, at least, until you can get it open. The primary objective of attacking teams, whatever the gamemode happens to be, is always to open the main gate – this creates a kind of multi-tiered style of gameplay in which, if the defenders fail the first objective of defending the gate control console, they all fall back further into the base to concentrate on defending the objective. As good a map as High Ground is for Objective games, it features here as an honorable mention as it is not the best choice for standard team or free-for-all Slayer games, but is still a fantastic map in its own right.

valhalla.jpg

#1 – Valhalla

Regardless of which map took the top spot, there will inevitably be people who disagree. After all, each individual Halo fan will have their own opinion of which maps are best based on their personal experience, their playstyle, and even their favourite aesthetic. However, few can argue that, objectively, Valhalla is a truly astounding map. There are plenty of excellent maps in Halo 3 that invoke similar gameplay ideas – maps like Standoff and Sandbox, to name a couple – but although they are both excellent, they both fall just short of topping Valhalla. Combining the best elements of almost every aspect of Halo’s multiplayer at the time, this perfectly blends vehicular combat, oppurtunities for map control, power weapon positioning and team-based combat. With the classic trope of two bases, one canyon, Valhalla harks back to two of the most popular Halo maps of all time – Blood Gulch and its Halo 2 remake, Coagulation – but at the same time takes a completely new spin on the layout – it is considerably smaller in scale compared to Blood Gulch, but the more varied terrain and map topography allows players on foot a better chance, and the addition of the man cannons on the bases cuts down map travel time and improves the pacing of objective-based games. Speaking of which, Valhalla is a classic objective map – the telltale sign of truly great map design in Halo is when a map is perfectly suited for both Slayer and Objective gametypes, and Valhalla is one of the most popular maps in the game for both categories. By staying true to the classic Halo map design philosophy but tweaking the transportation system of the map from teleporters to man cannons, the Bungie managed to create a perfect balance of the vehicle combat from Blood Gulch and the intense run-and-gun firefights of Beaver Creek within Valhalla’s map design and it stands as a suitable middle ground between these two gamemode-tailored maps. At the end of the day, nothing beats the simple but effective map design of two opposing bases in a canyon, one red, one blue.

Read More

 

Transformers – Top 5 Autobots that Didn’t Deserve to Die in the Movies

Death has always been a part of the Transformers series – after all, the main story revolves around a civil war, and as such the series has never been afraid to confront the concept of loss, and many of the main character’s Autobot comrades fell in the original cartoon series – and nobody will ever forget the infamous G1 Movie, which killed off almost every main Autobot cast member to make way for a new line of toys. The Michael Bay Transformers films, however, kill their Autobots for vaguely similar yet distinctly different reasons – often the deaths of Autobots in the series are used as shock factor to telegraph to the audience that a particular villain or faction means business. As such, some beloved Autobot characters have met some violent and grisly deaths in the movie series, and so in honour of the fallen (no, not The Fallen) let’s count down the Top 5 Autobots that Didn’t Deserve to Die in the Movies.

wheeljack death

#5 – Wheeljack

Bumblebee’s apparent longtime friend, Autobot scientist/inventor Wheeljack meets a particularly violent end in Dark of the Moon, his debut film. During the final battle, several Autobots are captured (somehow) and are being held prisoner by several Decepticons including Barricade and Soundwave (for some reason) before a snide human turncoat convinces them that the defenceless bots should be executed. Barricade selects Wheeljack as the first victim, and he is unceremoniously blown away by several point-blank shots to the face after begging for mercy. Although this scene is particularly traumatic for children, it only reachs number five on this list as Wheeljack, although a sympathetic character, is not exactly a fan-favourite, which leads to the next on the list:

jazz death

#4 – Jazz

Definite fan-favourite Jazz, a character so iconic that, in G1, he was one of the few original series cast to survive the Movie massacre alongside Bumblebee – yet for some reason, Michael Bay decided to kill him off in the very first film. During the final battle, as Optimus is distracted by Bonecrusher, Jazz attempts to hold off Megatron until the Autobot leader can arrive – and to his credit, Jazz puts up a valiant fight despite being clearly outmatched by him. As the shortest Autobot of the original movie’s cast, Jazz is tiny compared to Megatron, and this is emphasised when the Decepticon leader picks him up and rips him apart, before apparently devouring his energon before tossing his remains away. Unlike many other Autobots who fall in the series, Jazz does receive a eulogy from Optimus, albeit a brief and halfhearted one.

jetfire death.png

#3 – Jetfire

Although he is only an Autobot for about ten minutes, Jetfire is a particularly tragic case of an old, worn-out Decepticon who has spent his entire life on a futile mission serving an insane master, despite being a genuinely nice person in his own right. Although grumpy and a tad deranged, the rusted Seeker is invaluable to defeating the Fallen as he not only lets Sam Witwicky know where to go to find the Matrix of Leadership, the device needed to resurrect the recently deceased Optimus, but he also participates in the final battle by killing both Mixmaster and Scorponok, although he is critically wounded in the process. After seeing Prime resurrected, Jetfire rips out his own spark in order to donate him the powerful jet boosters included in the SR-71 Blackbird alt-mode, which come in really handy when Optimus then decides to make mincemeat of Megatron and the Fallen.

ratchet death.png

#2 – Ratchet

Perhaps the most tragic loss of the Transformer Purge that occurs between Dark of the Moon and Age of Extinction, Ratchet is killed by Lockdown in the opening to the fourth film after heroically refusing to give up the location of Optimus Prime. Ratchet’s death is particularly tragic as he is hunted down and attacked by Humans, the creatures he has spent years defending, and they injure him enough that Lockdown is able to swoop in for an easy kill. Unlike the deaths of any other Autobot in the series, Ratchet’s death actually angers Optimus, as when he learns of the Medic’s demise he and the other surviving Autobots storm KSI, the facility where executed Transformers’ remains are harvested, and destroyed the lab. Although he is eventually avenged, Ratchet’s death remains one of the most heavy-hitting of the fourth film.

arcee death.png

Honourable Mention – The Arcee Trio

Included as an honourable mention are the Arcee Sisters, mainly due to their wasted potential. Introduced in Revenge of the Fallen and then barely used, the Arcee sisters were last seen under attack from Decepticons in the desert, with two of them being critically injured by missiles right before the entire area was carpet-bombed by the US Air Force. Although many Decepticons were killed in the strike, it is more than likely that the three Arcee sisters were killed in this bombing run, as they are not seen again. This is unfortunate, as the Arcee sisters were a rare example of a gestalt Transformer – one mind controlling multiple bodies, a concept that could have been interesting to develop had the films bothered to do anything with it.

ironhide death 2.png

#1 – Ironhide

The number one spot has to go to Ironhide, who suffers one of the most violent and senseless deaths of any Autobot in the history of the franchise. After making mincemeat of the Dreads with the help of Sideswipe, Ironhide was tasked with defending Sentinel Prime who, unknown to the other Autobots, was actually intending to betray them all to Megatron. When he announces his intentions, the former Autobot leader rams his point home by shooting Ironhide in the back several times with his rust cannon, before callously discharging him from duty and firing a finishing blow to his chest. ironhide death 1.pngThe rust cannon, as the name implies, delivers a lethal blast to a Transformer that rusts away their body at an alarmingly fast rate, so as Sentinel escapes leaving the N.E.S.T. base in ruins, Ironhide dies as his body crumbles away into dust. Ironhide’s death is perhaps the most tragic of all the Autobots in the franchise, as he was there from the beginning and so is one of the most well-defined of the Autobot characters, so audiences actually cared about him – and the fact that his death seemed so senseless was what really made it sad. At least Ratchet and Jazz died heroically, fighting to the end. Ironhide was shot in the back by a traitor that he had pledged to protect, and that is why despite his typically flimsy character, the death of Ironhide stands out as the most tragic of all the Autobots.

Read More

 

Transformers – Optimus Prime’s Top 5 Most Brutal Kills in the Movies

As leader of the Autobots, one would assume that Optimus Prime would have to be a particularly righteous kind of individual, and this is certainly true across all the incarnations of the character throughout the Transformers multiverse. Even in universes in which Optimus is not the leader of the Autobots, such as in Transformers: Animated, he is still defined by his code of ethics and strict adherence to the moral philosophy that freedom is the right of all sentient beings. This also goes for the version of Optimus Prime seen in the Michael Bay movies, as even in a franchise that doesn’t always get it right when it comes to character development, the fundamentals of the character of Optimus Prime are there. However, this version of the character also has a tendency to get violent – really violent. So despite believing that freedom is the right of all sentient beings, he is perfectly happy to rip the head off a lumbering Decepticon or tear the spine out of a weaker foe if the need arises. So, in honour of this Optimus Prime’s apparent double-standards when it comes to preaching to his Autobots compared to slaughtering Decepticons, here are the Top 5 of Optimus Prime’s Most Brutal Kills. Bear in mind that the criteria for this list isn’t just how brutal the kill itself is – whether the brutality is justified will also play a part. So, to begin:

bonecrusher death.png

#5 – Bonecrusher

The first entry on the list also happens to be the Autobot leader’s first on-screen kill in the movie franchise – the legendary decapitation of Bonecrusher following the highway brawl near the end of the first film. Bonecrusher transforms and uses his rollerskating wheel feet to rampage down the road, destroying cars and even a bus along the way. Clearly angered by the senseless loss of life, Optimus also transforms and, following a wrestling match spanning multiple levels of elevated highway and a punch in the face from Optimus that pops one of his eyes out of its socket, Bonecrusher is finally put down by Optimus’ blade. In an epic finishing move that let fans know immediately that this incarnation of Prime meant business, he stabs his blade into Bonecrusher’s neck, severing his spine, and then ripped his head off, tossing it to the floor. Though it is certainly a brutal kill, Bonecrusher’s death ranks fairly low on this list, as many will agree that the beserking Decepticon deserved it.

demolisher death.png

#4 – Demolisher

A controversial kill of Prime’s from the opening sequence of Revenge of the Fallen, Demolisher was essentially a Decepticon minding his own business – hiding in his alt-form in Shanghai, watching over smaller Decepticon Sideways and generally doing nothing in particular – that is until the Autobots and their N.E.S.T. allies come along, draw him out of hiding and then execute him, and his weaker Audi-R8 charge. What makes this kill particularly insensitive is the fact that, after jumping on his head and causing serious damage to his wheels, Optimus essentially executes a critically injured and helpless opponent, in a similar manner to how Ratchet meets his fate at Lockdown’s hands in the opening of Age of Extinction. However, it has to be said that Demolisher was clearly as bloodthirsty as any Decepticon, since he went out of his way to cause as much destruction as possible during his attempted escape, even flinging helpless cars hundreds of feet into the air seemingly for the fun of it.

megatron death.png

#3 – Megatron

It might seem odd to include Megatron on this list, as many would assume that killing the Decepticon leader would be justified regardless of how brutal that actual execution itself happened to be. The conclusion to Dark of the Moon presents a very dubious moral decision on Optimus’ part, however, as after the destruction of Cybertron, Megatron offers a truce to the Autobot leader in exchange for deposing Sentinel and taking his rightful place as leader of the Decepticons, all after intervening in the nick of time to save Optimus’ life by attacking Sentinel Prime at the opportune moment. And Optimus’ response to this heroic act and the proposed truce? Well, as any level-headed and forward-thinking leader would, Optimus takes the opportunity to bury his axe in Megatron’s face and tear out the Decepticon Leader’s spine. This act genuinely took many fans by surprise, as one would think that after three films of constant warfare, Optimus would be sick of the senseless slaughter by now. But no, he seems to take great pleasure in brutally murdering his former brother, and he then goes on to make scrapmetal out of a defenceless Sentinel for good measure. Speaking of which…

sentinel death.png

#2 – Sentinel Prime

After ripping off Optimus’ arm and attempting to murder him, some might say that Optimus’ execution of Sentinel at the conclusion of Dark of the Moon was justified. But considering Sentinel and Optimus’ long history, particularly in light of Sentinel’s genuine plea to Optimus before the end that the only reason why he betrayed the Autobot leader was to ensure the survival of their species, it would probably have made more sense for Optimus to spare Sentinel’s life, particularly considering what came next. If Sentinel were alive, he could have stood trial for his crimes against humanity and perhaps even taken the majority of the blame for the devastation of Chicago, rather than the general public simply turning their anger on all Transformers, especially given the fact that Optimus had ripped the spines out of every Decepticon commander who could have taken the fall instead. What is also particularly brutal about Sentinel’s death is the manner in which it is done – Sentinel’s pleas for mercy fall on deaf ears as Optimus brutally executes him using Megatron’s weapon, and despite firing at Sentinel’s exposed braincase with a fusion shotgun at point-blank range, Optimus fires a second time, just for good measure. Well, at least Ironhide was at last avenged.

the fallen death.png

Honourable Mention – The Fallen

Whilst the Fallen can basically be blamed for the events of the entire Autobot-Decepticon war, and therefore all the deaths that have ever taken place in the Transformers series (even after his demise), the Fallen’s death at the end of Revenge of the Fallen is included here as an honourable mention simply because of how truly brutal this kill is. After making mincemeat of Megatron and relieving the Fallen of his staff, Optimus stabs him in the neck and, uttering the infamous quote “Give Me Your Face”, Prime quite literally rips off his face for no apparent reason other than that it looks cool. The horrified Fallen makes a desperate attempt to flee, but this proves to be a short-lived endeavour, as Optimus takes the oppurtunity to punch through the Fallen’s back, rip out his spark core, and crush it before his very eyes. A justified kill perhaps, but certainly a gruesome way to die regardless.

grindor deatrh.png

#1 – Grindor

Taking the top spot is another of Optimus’ kills from Revenge of the Fallen – Grindor. This Blackout-lookalike is the unfortunate third Decepticon in the three-versus-one battle in the forest who is grossly outmatched compared to Prime, even with Megatron and Starscream around. Grindor tries his best in the battle – he comes when Megatron calls, and plays his part in the three Decepticon’s coordinated attack on Optimus to draw out Sam, but he never really stood a chance. When Optimus goes ballistic on the trio, drawing out both blades, proclaiming his intention to ‘take them all on’ and apparently set on murdering them all, Grindor loses an arm before having a significant portion of his chest cut out, which understandably takes him out of the battle for a while to recover – and mere moments after extracting a stray energon blade from his leg, poor Grindor is taken by surprise as Optimus leaps onto the giant Decepticon’s back, stabbing him in the eye with a hook blade in the process, before stabbing his neck with the other hook blade and tearing the guy’s face apart. Judging by the blood-curdling metallic scream that Grindor lets out as this is happening, the process was far from painless.

So, having ranked Optimus’ most brutal kills in the Movies, have your views on the supposedly noble Autobot Commander changed? Do you think Prime’s actions were justified, or do you think Michael Bay’s obsession with hyper-violence is at total odds with the character? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, as well as your favourite kill from the Transformers movie series, and remember to leave a like if you want to see more Transformers content.

Read More