Top 10 Most Challenging Halo Skulls

Skulls in Halo are gameplay modifiers that were first introduced as Easter Eggs in Halo 2 to provide an extra layer of depth to the game, and to provide more of a challenge for players by altering the way the game plays. To activate a Skull, the player must first find it, which is usually a challenge in itself, as the Skulls are scattered throughout the campaign levels, usually well off the beaten track, with some requiring complex exploits, codes, platforming, glitches or even surviving a gauntlet to actually reach them.

In this list, I will be counting down the Top 10 Skulls from the perspective of modifying the game to make it more of a challenge. I have already done a list of Top 10 Most Fun Halo Skulls, and to clarify there may be some overlap between that list and this one, since not all the Skulls that make the game more difficult are necessarily frustrating or unfair (although some of them are). I will also be factoring in the difficulty required to actually retrieve the Skull, to a certain extent, but I will not be including Skulls on this list purely for that reason (so no Halo 2 IWHBYD). With that out of the way, we start with:

10 – Fog – Motion Tracker Disabled

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Fog, referred to as ‘Cloud’ in Halo: Reach, disabled the handy motion tracker that has been a staple for mainline Halo games since the beginning. This effectively removes the ‘eyes in the back of your head’, as the Skull’s description states, meaning you cannot sense enemies before you can see them. This Skull is most often used by players on Flood levels to heighten the sense of fear as you are unaware of enemies sneaking up behind you, although experienced players can easily overcome this. Overall, this Skull removes a helpful feature in the game but nothing more, so it provides some challenge but doesn’t really affect gameplay all that much, unlike…

9 – Tilt – Enemy Strengths and Weaknesses to Particular Weapons Increased

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Though that may sound like an overly complex description, this Skull’s very specific effects are actually surprisingly complicated, since Halo’s weapon sandbox philosophy relies on certain ‘types’ of weapons that are stronger or weaker depending on how you use them. Plasma weapons, for example, are good against shields but not against armour, and with this skull on plasma weapons become twice as effective against shields but twice as useless against un-shielded targets. What makes this Skull challenging is that it makes all enemies with plasma weapons (which is a lot since plasma weapons are the staple of the Covenant armory) twice as good at taking down your shields. This Skull does make fighting Flood somewhat easier, however, and can come in handy if you can acquire plasma weapons of your own, making it somewhat of a double-edged sword.

8 – Tough Luck – Enemy ‘Luck’ Increased

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To say that this Skull increases the ‘luck’ of AI does require some explanation – technically, this Skull modifies AI behaviour so that they are much more effective at dodging grenades, vehicles, and basically any form of slow-moving threat, whilst also making it far more likely that enemies will enter an enraged state. This does create the impression that the AI is just ridiculously lucky, however, and this makes the player seem unlucky by comparison, hence the Skull’s name. Needless to say, this does create a challenge, and although this Skull’s effects also extend to your allies the sheer frustration of having enemies be able to dodge grenades that they cannot even see drains any potential fun-factor from this Skull.

7 – They Come Back – Flood are Terrifying

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This Skull’s official description reads: “Flood Combat Forms spawned by Infection Forms reanimating a corpse are much more dangerous“, although they neglect to mention exactly how the Flood Combat Forms are made more dangerous – one would expect a damage boost, improved intelligence, or perhaps an expansion to the amount of weapons they can use – but no. This Skull speeds up Combat Forms so they now charge towards the player at breakneck speed, all while flailing their limbs around in an impossibly fast and suitably terrifying way. This Skull does only affect Combat Forms that had previously died and later reanimated, but in real terms, that’s still a significant proportion.

6 – Catch – Enemies Throw More Grenades

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This Skull has a very simple effect, in that it makes enemies throw more grenades. Whilst this inevitably leads to a hailstorm of lethal fire pelting the player from all angles, all is not lost – this Skull also makes enemies always drop two grenades of their preferred type when killed, which even the odds slightly. An unusual quirk with this Skull is that it almost forces enemies to throw grenades with reckless abandon – they will toss explosives regardless of situation, even if it will almost certainly get them killed. This Skull would have ranked higher on the list were it not for the apparent reduction in AI intelligence and for the fact that anyone who is familiar with Halo multiplayer will knows how to deal with countless poorly-judged grenade tosses rounding every corner.

5 – Famine – All dropped Weapons have Half Ammo

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This Skull is just plain cruel. Already sparse ammo for heavy weapons, sniper rifles, or basically any power weapon is now ridiculously rare, and the fact that all weapons have their ammo halved means that plasma weapons now expend their ammo within mere minutes, finding dropped ammo refills is even more essential, and every last shot has to count. For an even greater (and ludicrous) challenge, this Skull can be combined with the ‘Recession’ Skull, which makes every shot worth twice the ammo – so you are essentially left with a mere quarter of the ammo you would have in regular gameplay. To add a further level of difficulty to this Skull, it remains one of the most frustrating Skulls to retrieve in Halo 3, requiring the use of several players at once unless a rare Gravity Lift powerup can be obtained, and even then it requires precision platforming. Halo 2’s incarnation of this Skull should have made my Top 10 Creepiest Halo Easter Eggs list, since the Skull is found surrounded by twitching Flood corpses…

4 – Assassins – All Enemies are Cloaked

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If cloaked enemies weren’t bad enough, this Skull amps that up to 11 by making every single enemy cloaked permanently. This includes everything from Flood to Hunters, and even includes your own Marines if you betray them. Oddly, this Skull was originally set to appear in Halo 3, but was removed, probably to make LASO (Legendary with All Skulls On) mode less infuriating. This is one of the few Skulls that could possibly be considered a whole separate difficulty in itself, as when activated even the lower difficulty settings require a whole new level of skill to master.

3 – Thunderstorm – All Enemies are at Max Possible Rank

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I already covered this Skull in my Top 10 Most Fun Halo Skulls, since its ability to promote allied Elites to their highest rank does come in handy in missions where they are available. However, in any other given situation, this Skull definitely amps up the difficulty by making all enemies at their maximum possible strength, intelligence and tactical capability. Not only that, but in Halo 2 it means all Elites can withstand a direct stick with a plasma grenade on Legendary, and will draw their swords to cut through Marines with ease if they are angered. This Skull also gives all Sentinels and Elite Flood Combat Forms shields, meaning it is harder to take them out with quick successive precision shots.

2 – Mythic – All Enemies have Increased Health

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The semi-unofficial ‘Mythic Difficulty’ involves playing Halo on Legendary with this Skull on, and it definitely increases the challenge by making all enemies ridiculously strong. With this Skull on, certain high-ranking Elites won’t even be vulnerable to an overcharged plasma pistol, making the age-old ‘Noob Combo’ strategy of taking out shields with an overcharge and following up with a headshot obsolete. There are a few positives to this Skull, namely that your allies are given a slight health boost too, but this seems utterly inconsequential compared to the massive boost in health and shields that even a lowly Elite Minor receives on Legendary. Combine this with the Thunderstorm Skull, and you have your own personal purgatory.

Honorable Mentions

Blind – No Heads Up Display

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I include this Skull here as an ‘honorable mention’ since it doesn’t really seem fair to the other Skulls to actually include this on the list proper, because it certainly makes the game ridiculously hard. Without a Heads-Up Display you cannot see your motion tracker, health, ammo, grenades, or even the reticule – however, this Skull is rarely used in actual gameplay since it was not added with the intention of being a challenge. It is not included in the required Skulls needed to activate LASO, it does not need to be found on Legendary and it is often found near the start of the games in which it appears. This Skull was included as a means to create machinima, take screenshots or record game clips before those features became more readily available through theatre mode or Xbox capture, but if you want to attempt to actually play the game with HUD elements disabled, a better alternative is the Malfunction Skull which disables one random HUD element with each try, a much more lenient alternative.

Ghost – AI no longer flinch from attacks

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One of the many Skulls to debut in Halo 2 but never return again, the effect of this Skull sounds like no more than a minor inconvenience to the player, but when activated the effect becomes immediately noticeable. This Skull essentially makes frontal assault melee attacks against Elites useless, since without the flinch mechanic the enemy can immediately melee you back, which is an instant kill on Legendary. The removal of flinching also means that enemies are no longer stunned by sniper shots, glancing explosive attacks or vehicles, which can be frustrating when pacing shots.

Jacked – Ground vehicles can only be used by hijacking

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When vehicle hijacking was first introduced in Halo 2, it was hailed as a fantastic innovation to help balance vehicular combat – essentially, it meant that the player could easily acquire a new vehicle without having to waste time killing the occupant, and made dispatching heavy vehicles like Wraiths much more easy. However, with this Skull activated, vehicles can only be used if they are hijacked, which basically makes UNSC vehicles unusable. Thankfully, air vehicles are not affected, so at least it isn’t totally game-breaking.

Anger – AI fire weapons much faster

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Found in the Halo 2 mission Gravemind guarded by a secret invisible Grunt armed with heavy weapons, Anger makes all enemies fire their weapons at ridiculous rates – much faster than the player can physically fire them. Plasma rifles become a stream of lethal energy, Jackal Snipers can pick off the player and three Marines in rapid succession, and Grunts fire their weapons so fast that they overheat. This Skull makes standing still a death warrant, and on Legendary allies are ripped apart by a merciless wave of weapons fire. Whilst this sounds like a nightmare, that’s nothing compared to number one on this list:

1 – Iron – ‘Death carries a Heavy Price…’

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This Skull is insane. Whilst activated in Single Player, checkpoints no longer exist, meaning that if you die, you have to restart the entire level from scratch. This Skull has almost certainly been responsible for the destruction of more Xbox controllers than any other Easter Egg in the history of the console, because it makes every single level an unforgiving rage-fest on Legendary. Don’t think co-op will save you either – whilst checkpoints do still exist with Iron on in co-op mode, the death of any player reverts everyone to the last checkpoint, making teamwork and strategy essential since the cheap ‘hopscotch’ method (which involves leaving one player out of combat for the others to respawn nearby) totally redundant.

To make matters worse (or better, depending on if you like insane challenges) most of the Halo: Reach Weekly Challenges, Xbox Achievements or Maximum Scoring Records require the use of the Iron Skull, such as the Vidmaster: Annual achievement which requires four players to complete the final level of Halo 3 on Legendary in separate Ghosts, so if any player falls off the crumbling walkways, everyone is hurled back to the checkpoint. The only reason why you will ever want to activate this Skull for fun is if you want to rack up insane score multipliers, since it offers the highest point multiplier in the game for its insane level of difficulty.

And that’s my list of Top 10 Most Challenging Halo Skulls, I hope you enjoyed, and if you did then be sure to leave a like, you can also comment down below if you thought any other Skulls should have made the list. Also, you can Follow Sacred Icon or like us on Facebook for more content like this, uploaded every other day.

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Top 10 Most Fun Halo Skulls

Skulls in Halo are gameplay modifiers that were first introduced as Easter Eggs in Halo 2 to provide an extra layer of depth to the game, and to provide more of a challenge for players by altering the way the game plays. To activate a Skull, the player must first find it, which is usually a challenge in itself, as the Skulls are scattered throughout the campaign levels, usually well off the beaten track, with some requiring complex exploits, codes, platforming, glitches or even surviving a gauntlet to actually reach them.

In this list, I will be counting down the Top 10 Skulls from the perspective of modifying the game to make it more fun. I will also be doing a list of Top 10 Most Challenging Halo Skulls for balance, and there may be some overlap. Nevertheless, we start with:

10 – Bandana – Infinite Ammo

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Bandana comes quite low on the list due to the fact that it basically amounts to cheating, but having infinite ammo comes in handy for other reasons than just making the game ridiculously easy. This skull is essential if you want to do any boundary-breaking, out-of-map exploring or ridiculous grenade jumps because it means you aren’t limited to the 4-frag cap from the original Halo 2. Hidden deep within the Silent Cartographer Island in Halo: Combat Evolved, retrieving this skull requires clever manipulation of the original Halo’s unusual physics engine, and a clever way of making this skull redundant for any actual ‘cheating’ that was included in Halo: The Master Chief Collection makes gaining points impossible whilst this skull is activated, so really its just for fun.

9 – Black Eye – Melee Recharges Shields

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Whilst it might seem like it wouldn’t be very fun at all to have to melee enemies in order to recharge your shields, the Black Eye skull appears on this list due to how it works in Halo 2. Unlike all other Halo games (so far) Halo 2’s version of the Black Eye Skull lets you increase your shield strength to far in excess of what is usually possible by whacking enemies, allowing you to survive explosions and other forms of damage that would kill you in normal gameplay. This opens up huge possibilities for exploration since you can stack grenade explosions to propel the player up high buildings and across chasms, and since Halo 2 lacks any form of invisible barriers or kill timers, basically anything you can see, you can reach.

8 – Grunt Funeral – Dead Grunts Explode

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It requires no explanation as to why a Skull that makes dead Grunts explode like Plasma Grenades makes the game hilarious to play, particularly since it actually also adds a layer of challenge to the game since all Grunts become time-bombs, and avoiding them at all costs is a priority. An interesting quirk with this Skull is that any and all dead Grunts explode, including ones that are already pre-loaded into the level – this can create some interesting results, particularly in Flood levels, as it redistributes any object that isn’t glued to the ground in a blaze of plasma.

7 – Masterblaster – Co-op Special Powers

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One of a few wacky ‘co-op only’ Skulls that 343 industries added to Halo 2 in Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Masterblaster gives one player huge overshields but removes their ability to shoot and gives the other player infinite ammo but removes their shields entirely, with the roles swapping after a certain amount of kills. This skull essentially makes co-op a bit more challenging, but also has potential for hilarious results, particularly when the roles switch halfway through a rampage.

6 – Prophet Birthday Party – Regret Guitar

 

Another bizarre Skull that 343 industries added to Halo: The Master Chief Collection, the ‘Prophet Birthday Party’ skull is unique in that it has only one use – if you could call it a ‘use’. What this skull lacks in usefulness it makes up for in sheer ludicrousness, as it punctuates every whack that you deliver to the Prophet of Regret during the boss fight halfway through Halo 2 with electric guitar licks (performed by none other than Steve Vai himself) and lightning bolts. Increasing the difficulty magnifies this skulls effect, as it takes at least 10 punches to kill Regret on Legendary and the licks intensify each time.

5 – Sputnik – Physics Modifiers

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This Skull is essential for level exploration, particularly in the original Halo 2, as it significantly reduces the mass of all objects in the game, making melees and grenade explosions blast objects much further than they did before. This means that the player can use grenade jumps to reach places that are further away, and makes whacking objects around much more easy, allowing the player to uncover passageways and secrets that would be impossible in normal gameplay. For example, to find the Giant Football in the Halo 2 level Metropolis, the player needs to use the Sputnik Skull combined with a grenade jump to blast themselves onto a high tower, and the Sputnik Skull is also needed to be able to melee the football down, after which Ghosts can be used to knock the ball around. There is an even more extreme version of this Skull in the Anniversary version of Halo 2, but more on that later.

4 – Grunt Birthday Party – Headshots Become Explosions (or Confetti)

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This Skull is one of the many that had its effects altered over the course of the Halo games – in the original Halo 2, this Skull required a descent to the very bottom of the Heretic Gas Mine upon which the player is confronted with a circle of dancing Heretic Grunts, all worshiping the aforementioned Skull and with good reason, since all headshots become plasma explosions with this Skull activated, even on dead bodies. However, in later Halos (and even in the Halo 2: Anniversary port in Halo: The Master Chief Collection) this Skull turns headshots into small explosions of confetti, coupled with the jarring but now famous sound clip of children cheering from Viva Pinata.

3 – Envy – Master Chief can go Invisible

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This may sound like another ‘cheat’ Skull, and in some ways it probably is, depending on your point of view. Technically, all this Skull does is grant the Chief access to an ability usually only accessible when playing as the Arbiter, as in Halo 2 Arbiter’s ‘active camouflage’ replaces the flashlight and allows for more stealth-orientated levels. However, the stealth ability is notoriously unreliable, since it only lasts for a short time and requires lots of time to recharge. When Chief has this ability, you can’t even see the timer for the recharge either, so you have to rely on the audio cues to know when camo is ready to use again. However, it does allow for a stealth alternative in the Chief levels, which adds an extra layer of depth to the gameplay that is usually only present in the handful of tailor-built Arbiter levels.

2 – Feather – Like Sputnik on Steroids

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Ah, the elusive Feather Skull. Unavailable to many players in the early days of Halo: The Master Chief Collection’s release due to a bug in the pre-order system (which was later fixed when all the pre-order bonus Skulls became available to everyone), the Feather Skull initially seemed to be not worth the bother – according to the description, with this Skull activated all melees ‘impart more movement physics’, essentially making this Skull’s effect very similar to the Sputnik Skull. However, when you combine the effects of both Skulls together at the same time, it doubles the effect and allows the player to reach inconceivable heights with grenade jumps, (usually resulting in death unless a much higher-up destination is nearby) but, more importantly, allows for ridiculous arcing jumps if an explosion occurs just next to or behind the player, making this Skull and its older brother popular with speedrunners as it allows for huge leaps that allow Chief to clear entire buildings in a single leap, cutting time by requiring fewer grenade jumps.

Honorable Mentions

Thunderstorm Skull – All Enemies are at Max Rank

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Whilst this Skull will certainly feature on my ‘Top 10 Most Challenging Skulls‘ due to the fact that it makes every enemy the strongest and most intelligent that it can possibly be, in certain situations (in Halo 2 in particular) this Skull also makes the game much more fun, since the Skull’s influence also affects Covenant allies. This means that with Thunderstorm activated, any level in which you encounter Minor Elites or Grunts as allies will now gift you with a squad of highly-trained, uber-powerful Elite Ultras and surprisingly confident and capable Grunt Ultras, and the best part is that Ultra Elites always carry an Energy Sword as their secondary weapon meaning Brute enemies rarely stand a chance.

That’s Just… Wrong Skull – Better AI Sight and Hearing

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This Skull, like Thunderstorm, seems like it would make the game more difficult than fun, since it removes the restrictions that the developers put on many of the AI to balance the gameplay – they now hear your footsteps, can see the shimmer of your invisibility, and fire with amazingly precise accuracy at all times, so why is it on this list? Well, for the same reason as Thunderstorm – these effects are also bestowed upon your allies. With this Skull on, allies will rarely ever accidentally kill themselves with heavy weapons, can now locate and dispatch cloaked enemies with ease, and fire with (literal) inhuman accuracy. Essentially, with this Skull on, the allied AI is probably as good as the game as you are.

Streaking – Shields Decay, and Recharge with Kills

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The final Skull in the ‘Honorable Mentions’ category is yet another example of a Skull with a challenging effect that can be manipulated for fun. This Skull fixes a critical weakness of the Black Eye Skull, namely the fact that after doing a particularly elaborate grenade jump that blasts you out of the map you have no way of actually recharging your shields. With this Skull on, however, grenade throws can actually recharge your shields, meaning with Bandana on you can slowly recharge your shields by throwing grenades. Whether or not this is a glitch, it opens up more possibilities for exploration by allowing the player to pull off multiple Black Eye-enchanced feats in succession.

1 – IWHBYD – Rare Dialogue is more Common, and Secret Dialogue is unlocked

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This Skull is fantastic because it makes the game much funnier to play in such a simple way. By reversing the probabilities of common and rare combat dialogue, this Skull makes lines of dialogue that are usually heard only once in a blue moon much more common, and unlocks hidden lines of dialogue that are locked in the game’s standard code. This makes Marines, Elites, Brutes, Grunts and basically anything else in the game that speaks English yell more hilarious (and sometimes vulgar, perplexing or even downright ridiculous) insults to the each other, the player, or even the developers via fourth-wall breaking complaints about the game. The Skull also increases the chances of AI talking to and interacting with each other, and allows the player to hear tales such as the story of Flipyap the Grunt, Sergeant Bank’s message home (delivered in the form of a telegram) and Sergeant Johnson’s many hidden lines of cutscene dialogue.

Named after the subtitle ‘I Would Have Been Your Daddy…’ from the start of Halo: Combat Evolved’s fifth level, Assault on the Control Room, The Skull actually unlocks this line of dialogue for Sergeant Johnson in-game, and he completes the quote with ‘…but a dog beat me over the fence.’ What makes this Skull even more interesting, however, is the ridiculous lengths you have to go to in order to actually unlock it in Halo 2 and Halo 3. Halo 2 involves navigating the normally-inaccessible rooftops of Mombasa to find the Skull (which may or may not actually be there) before having to face off against wave after wave of Ultra Elites who guard the Skull (for whatever reason) before finally unlocking the effects. Halo 3 requires the player to jump through giant holograms of the Halo rings in a specific order – each ring hums at a different tone when you jump through it, so jumping through the rings in a sequence that plays the seven notes of the Gregorian Chant in the Halo theme causes the Skull to magically appear before the player, opening the door for many hilarious encounters to come.

So that’s my list of the Top 10 Most Fun Halo Skulls, I hope you enjoyed and if you did, why not leave a like? You can also follow Sacred Icon or like us on Facebook for more content like this, and look down below for more of my Halo posts!

 

 

Top Ten Tunes from the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Soundtrack

Whilst the Elder Scrolls series isn’t strictly speaking within the boundaries of science fiction, the franchise does have a fair amount of science fiction elements to it – the mysterious and technologically advanced Dwemer, the strange alternate ‘dimension’ that is Oblivion, and the fact that the series is set on another planet, to name but a few. In light of this, I present this review of my second favourite video game soundtrack of all time, after Halo, and that is the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim soundtrack. This selection of ambient tunes is absolutely spectacular, and even if you’ve never played the games the soundtrack is still amazing to behold, making great use of chanting and choral singing to get into the Nordic theme of the game, and beautiful string pieces for ambient exploration music.

#10 – The Road Most Travelled, Dragonborn Soundtrack

This one is technically cheating, since its basically a remake of the song of the same name from the Morrowind soundtrack. But it is always nice when Elder Scrolls games retain the same musical cues to maintain that sense of progression between games and link the three Bethesda Elder Scrolls games together. Whilst this isn’t strictly speaking a Skyrim track in itself, it certainly adds to the Skyrim experience by invoking serious Morrowind nostalgia and making the task of exploring the ashfields of Solstheim that bit more fun.

#9 – Solitude, Skyrim Soundtrack

This is the theme that plays when you step into the capital of Skyrim, the heart of Imperial presence in the game, and it does its job of conveying the sense of security almost cradling nature of the great city of Solitude as this soft piece creates an atmosphere of tranquillity. For me this theme brings back memories of living in Proudspire Manor, with Ysolda as my wife and Meeko as the family dog, that was secretly a front for my evil obsession with Daedric weapons and armour. Regardless, the track provides a peaceful backdrop for milling around cities in Skyrim with a gentle atmosphere, particularly if it rains in-game.

#8 – From Past to Present, Skyrim Soundtrack

This is another track that is particularly nostalgic, since it always seems to play when you first start a game. Interpreted by many players as synonymous with peace and safety due to its connection to towns like Riverwood and Whiterun, this track inspires a feeling of adventure even now, seven years later, which is truly a testament to Jeremy Soule’s skill as a composer. Nothing sucks you in to Skyrim more than the feeling you get when listening to this majestic track and exploring the fields around Whiterun…

#7 – Watch the Skies, Skyrim Soundtrack

This track is perfect for dragon-battling, and it will be the only inclusion of combat music on this list. Why? Well, Skyrim’s combat music isn’t bad but it is repetitive, particularly since there are so few combat tracks. Too often does Steel on Steel play whenever any random mudcrab decides to so much as wander near you, making the combat music in Skyrim more of an annoyance than the awesome feature it is. As such, hearing Watch the Skies play is somewhat refreshing since it occurs more rarely, and signifies that a great battle is about to take place. Ultimately, Watch the Skies is the supreme combat track.

#6 – Secunda, Skyrim Soundtrack

This tune tops polls for best ambient soundtrack, and it’s not hard to see why. This track is one of the most iconic in the game and was one of the few that I actually remember by name. Skyrim does a fantastic job of creating atmosphere, and the mellow staccato notes of Secunda make nighttime sombre and melancholy, but also creates an ambient air of caution towards the surroundings, since you never quite know what can be lurking in the dark at night in Skyrim…

#5 – Far Horizons, Skyrim Soundtrack

Regarded by many to be the best piece of music on the soundtrack, Far Horizons is a perfect tune for exploring. Aside from the fact that it would not seem out of place being played over scenes in The Lord of the Rings, this piece goes through distinct phases as it plays but never loses that sense of beholding that runs throughout, as if we are constantly in sight of something that inspires awe. Fitting, really, since exploring in Skyrim can often have that effect.

#4 – Unbroken Road, Skyrim Soundtrack

Although it might seem like an odd choice since it is heard so rarely in the game, Unbroken Road is actually a fantastic track if one takes the time to listen to it. I wish that this piece had been in the game more, possibly unlocked as a regular exploration theme after the player completes the main quest, perhaps. But when this song kicks in, it invokes some heavy emotions, and it is easy to see why they chose this song from the soundtrack to be the music that plays the first time you ride a Dragon.

#3 – Streets of Whiterun, Skyrim Soundtrack

This piece, rather like Solitude, is associated for many players with feelings of security and tranquillity, since it is most often played within the protection of big cities like Whiterun, Riften or Solitude, although it doubles as a perfect exploration tune. What makes this piece so emotive is the swelling and receding of the strings and the repeated light, staccato plucks that resemble the steady flow of nature that is ever present in Skyrim.

#2 – Sovngarde, Skyrim Soundtrack

The theme for Sovngarde is simply awesome. Not only does it perfectly contextualise the main theme of the game, but it also provides a constant drum-beat like rhythm to urge the player on when faces the challenges of the Nord afterlife. It adds a particular ambient air to the section in the fog, and encapsulates the grandeur of the Hall of Valor, meaning it essentially kills two birds with one stone and perfectly sets the scene for the Sovngarde section of the game.

Honourable Mentions

Ancient Stones – Skyrim Soundtrack

Jeremy Soule uses horns very well in the Skyrim soundtrack, and particularly well in Far Horizons. But Ancient Stones is no slouch, and contains its own unique harpsichord-like feel that slowly transitions into another horns section. This tune is perfect for exploring forests, mountainous areas or encounters with small towns or Orc villages.

Kyne’s Peace – Skyrim Soundtrack

Like Secunda, Kyne’s Peace is a track that plays exclusively at night, and it certainly invokes a feeling of chill with its hollow choral howls. As it begins, this tune is perfectly mellow – it is a staple of night times in Skyrim to hear this piece, and no bad thing – and the crescendo into the higher-pitched singing is fairly subtle, the vocals are quiet and almost angelic. This track is called Kyne’s Peace for a reason, in that it certainly invokes a peaceful feeling.

Forgotten Vale – Dawnguard Soundtrack

This piece is chilling. Similarly to Unbroken Road, Forgotten Vale is only heard at a certain point in the Dawnguard questline, and as such it is rare to actually hear this piece in game, but it is definitely worth it when you do. This perfect use of choral melody creates a feeling of sympathy for the Falmer and their grim fate, particularly since you see for the first time the long-forgotten achievements of their ancestors.

1 – The Jerall Mountains, Skyrim Soundtrack

This tune inspires the same feeling in me as many people get from the Shire theme from Lord of the Rings, particularly since I closely link this song with memories of playing Skyrim for the first time on my Xbox 360. A lot has changed since then, but this tune hasn’t, and it sounds just as fantastic today as it did seven years ago. Jeremy Soule has composed many masterful tracks that invoke feelings of adventures and wonder, and this is undoubtedly one of his best.

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Top Ten Creepiest Halo Easter Eggs

As any Halo fan will tell you, every Halo game has a lot more to it than just gunfights with aliens. One of the deepest aspects to Halo is its Easter Eggs, and the series has played host to several widely known Easter Eggs, both legendary and infamous. However, there is a specific category of Easter Egg that particularly peaks my interest, and that is creepy Easter Eggs that are there to freak players out. Bungie didn’t hold back when it comes to secrets to hunt down in the Halo campaigns, and thanks to their love of all things mysterious and (at times) bizarre, Halo boasts a wide variety of really weird things to find if you take the time to look hard enough.

See Also

10 – Hidden Marine on 343 Guilty Spark

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If you thought the insane screaming Marine that you find inside the Forerunner structure was bad enough, you are not prepared for this guy. He can be found using a glitch whereby spamming the grenade button at the start of the mission 343 Guilty Spark will prompt Chief to forget to get out of the Pelican, allowing you to ride it outside the level boundaries until it lands in an indent. You can then dismount and after about a minute of walking you will come across this poor soul, with his head planted firmly against a tree. If you aren’t paying attention and then you turn around and see him it can be quite startling. In the classic graphics its even spookier, as the trees are not there and he instead slowly appears out of the shadows as you approach, standing and staring but saying absolutely nothing.

9 – Standoff Dish Operator

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This Easter Egg is so tiny that its almost impossible to notice unless you’re looking for it. But on the map Standoff in Halo 3, if you zoom in really close to the Radio Telescope that is closest to you with a Sniper Rifle or Beam Rifle scope, you can find this man – he cannot be killed, or interacted with in any way, and he is apparently a joke inserted by the programmer who rendered the model for the dish, the Halo wiki rather simply and rather spookily states: “This man is Travis Brady”, whoever he is. The reason why he is particularly creepy is that he just stands there – no matter how long you stand there looking at him, he will stand and stare right back at you. And he doesn’t even have a scope to see you properly, but he knows you’re there.
Oh, and this map has another real person’s face as the face of the man in the moon.
Seriously, this map deserves to be read about.

8 – Megg Easter Egg

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Megg is an Easter Egg that involves performing a very specific set of steps on the first mission of Halo: Combat Evolved on Legendary, including jumping on and off a yellow barrel and murdering Captain Keyes. Once you find the Easter Egg however, you will be filled with pride at knowing that you sacrificed humanity’s best hope for survival to get a look at a letter ‘M’ made out of blood splatters and bullet holes. Seriously though, why is this here? It seems very incongruous, and quite creepy if you think about it – perhaps there is a violent murder loose about the Pillar of Autumn, and the letter ‘M’ is his calling card? Who knows…

7 – Skulls

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Although the concept of Skulls is now firmly ingrained into the consciousness of the Halo lexicon thanks to Oddball and the inclusion of the Skulls as Easter Eggs, with many players simply seeing the skulls as game modifiers that are implemented in a fun and intriguing way, but if you think about it, the Skulls are creepy in a way. They are just lying there, scattered around UNSC bases and Forerunner installations and even the African Savannah and the depths of High Charity, but why? Whose Skulls are these? Am I thinking to deeply into this?

6 – Why Am I Here? Easter Egg

why am i here

It is always fun to find those hidden messages that programmers leave in seemingly random terrain shapes, but this message suggests a deeper meaning that could simply be a Red vs Blue reference but could also be a sign that one of the people working on Halo 2 really didn’t want to be at his desk that day. Considering the nightmare development that Halo 2 had, I don’t blame him, but in-universe this message represents the possible last words of a former occupant of Beaver Creek, who was trapped and scrawled his last before his body was consumed by nature.

5 – Cortana on High Ground

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This Easter Egg is prevalent throughout several missions of Halo 3, but is most prominent on the multiplayer map High Ground. If one stares long enough at the live security camera footage of a hangar in Crows Nest that can be found on all portable UNSC computers in Halo 3, eventually an image of Cortana staring blankly at the player will appear for a few seconds. Creepily, if one uses theatre mode to observe a panel in a game that is in progress, you can see that Cortana does this every so often whether players are looking or not. That means that every time you play Halo 3 near a UNSC computer, Cortana can periodically drop in to take a look at what you’re up to…

4 – Microsoft SAM Easter Egg

microsoft sam

This is a funny but still rather creepy Easter Egg that can be found in The Covenant in Halo 3. To find this Easter Egg, one must start the level on Normal or higher from the beginning and take a Hornet to the end of the outer rail of the Citadel on the left hand side. Going to the right hand side will trigger the song Siege of Madrigal to play, a whole different Egg entirely. When you reach the end of the prong, wait about 2 or 3 minutes and eventually, out of nowhere, the voice of Microsoft SAM will breathe down your neck, saying:

Sam: "OMG (Oh My God) this game needs more guitar wank. Am I right?"

Sam: "Happy Easter Marty."

Sam: "I am a monument to all Marty's sins lololol."

Sam: "J and C Paul, you are so totally fired."

3 – Halo: Reach Radio Conversations

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Throughout Halo: Reach, in both campaign and multiplayer, the player constantly encounters these tiny radios that often loop nothing but static – although some of them contain hidden messages or conversations. Most of them are fairly routine, some are calls for help, some are military personnel giving orders, and some are even just casual conversations about zombie plans. What makes this Easter Egg really creepy, though, is the thought that in several hours from when the game is set, every voice you hear on the radio represents the voice of someone who dies on Reach…

2 – The Halo 3 Cavemen

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As strange as it may seem, Halo 3 has a resident population of cavemen. Each of the diminutive monkey people has the face of Marcus R. Lehto, the former Creative Arts Director of Bungie Studios who left in 2012.  This Egg is as confusing as it is disturbing – where did the monkey men come from? Why do they have a bear? Why is the largest member of the family holding the bear, and why is it bigger than the smallest child? Most importantly, in the final cutscene of Halo 3: ODST, why does Edward Buck pick an insect off one of these creatures and eat it before your very eyes?

1 – Reversed Messages in the Soundtrack

I have already written an entire list on how good Halo’s soundtrack is, but one aspect of it that I didn’t mention in that list was the Hidden Messages that can be found within certain songs of the soundtrack. Halo 2 has Destroyer’s Invocation, the first movement of the Mausoleum Suite, which has a very deep and underlying guttural vocal melody that is totally indecipherable unless played backwards. If you are able to listen to the song backwards, the voice is revealed to be possibly that of Mendicant Bias, an A.I. trapped within High Charity. Regardless, the voice says as follows:
…I have walked among men and angels for three thousand years.

Time has no end… no beginning… no purpose. 

I wander the earth, seeking forgiveness for my horrible crimes against God and man. 

I live to see death and destruction, evil… over the light, but the light cannot be extinguished.

 I live in a prison of my own demise.

I am lost…in time.

Halo 3 has Black Tower, there is another reversed message that appears to frequently reference T.S. Elliot’s The Hollow Men, which is interesting since several aspects of Halo 3’s marketing campaign also referenced that poem. The backwards messages appear to say:

Eyes from Death’s dream kingdom,
Appear as sunlight on a broken column.
There in Death’s other kingdom walking alone,
Trembling lips form prayers to broken stone.
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2qk2yTTCwY

Finally, Dread Intrusion from Halo 3 has perhaps the most interesting reversed message of them all, since this message seems to attempt to give us an insight into what goes on inside the minds of the Flood as they further their onslaught:

Side by side, we march as one,
Humans and Elites will die,
The Earth will fall if we strike together,
So forth shall all of life.

So what are your thoughts?

What did you think of this list? Do you agree? If you can think of any other spooky Halo Easter Eggs, feel free to leave them in the comments, and look down below for more Halo related content!

 

Top Ten Star Wars Video Games

Star Wars is one of the few movie franchises that is able to maintain excellent quality in both its films and its games (apart from a slight dip in the early 2000s…) so it comes as no surprise to most people who know Star Wars fans that just as many people like the video games as the movies, so it makes sense to do a list ranking those as well. Now bear in mind, I’m only ranking the games that I have actually played here, and although I have played a lot of Star Wars games, I haven’t played them all. Noticeable absences will be The Force Unleashed II, Rogue Squadron and all the early Jedi Knight/Dark Forces games. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the list, and coming in at number 10:

10 – Obi Wan

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Poor Star Wars: Obi Wan. If only you had been in development for another 2 years. The main reason why this is even on the list at all is that I used to have great fun with it as a kid, and for the life of me I can’t understand why. It has terrible controls, terrible gameplay, terrible dialogue and terrible voice acting. Not to mention the graphics are terrible, and the game crashes more times than I could count. They tried to get Ewan McGregor to play Obi-Wan in this game and I presume he said no, so they got another Scottish actor to take his place. Unfortunately, he doesn’t drop his Scottish accent, and so Obi-Wan goes through this entire game sounding like a Scotsman with a cold pretending to be Obi-Wan. But theres something about the game still… maybe I’ll give it another chance. Until then, Scottish Obi-Wan saying “DUH YUH UNDERSTAHND MAH LANGUAGE” will haunt my every waking thought.

9 – Republic Commando

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Republic Commando is one of those games that you have to play to truly understand. On the surface it looks like just another Clone-orientated first-person shooter like the Battlefront games, but it is altogether different to what you might expect from a game in this genre. In much the same way as Halo defies its genre to deliver excellent story, world-building and music, Republic Commando delivers a refreshing new look on the internal composition of the Clone Army as we take control of an elite squad of Clone Troopers who are sent on daring covert missions involving stealth and tactical teamwork. The plot is excellent, and there will be no spoilers here – but it’s great.

8 – The Force Unleashed

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Hype was in the air when The Force Unleashed was first announced, particularly due to the announcement that you would be playing as a dark side warrior, an angle that had been touched upon before in Star Wars games but had rarely been the sole focus, certainly not of a whole game. The Force Unleashed offers the ability to truly unleash the rage of the Dark Side of the Force, but the Wii’s controls make it obscenely difficult to do that, so I got the DS version instead. The story is fairly good, but what really makes this game fun is customising your lightsaber and collecting all the points necessary to upgrade your character.

7 – Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

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Come on, this couldn’t not be on the list. Lego Star Wars is a masterpiece of videogaming, not least because it is quite literally fun for all ages. The game is straightforward and simplistic, and yet it offers a certain level of challenge with the collection of minikits and other bonuses. I chose Complete Saga to go here because it really is the best of both the earlier games combined, allowing for seamless cross-trilogy travel with a huge amount of levels. Admittedly, I completed this game 100% my sister over the course of 3 months, and its arguably the greatest achievement of my life.

6 – Battlefront II

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It may interest some people as to why Battlefront II is 6th and yet its predecessor, Battlefront, is 5th. It seems to be a commonly accepted belief that the second game improves on its predecessor in almost every conceivable way, and it is true that Battlefront II has many added features – the ability to play as heroes, space battles, sprint, more units, tracking points, ranking etc. I love this game in its own way, not least because of the excellent array of mods that are available, but there is something about the original game that means I can’t put the sequel higher.

5 – Battlefront

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This game was one of my absolute favourites as a child, and I still play it to this day. What is undeniable now is that Battlefront trumps Battlefront II in terms of maps. Bespin: Platforms, Geonosis: Spire, Rhen Var: Harbour, Kamino: Tipoca City, Tatooine: Dune Sea, the list goes on. And the original Battlefront had much more focus on the Episode II era, which the sequel lacked due to the hype surrounding Episode III at the time.

4 – Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast

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Since this was probably one of the first games I ever played I have a nostalgic attraction to Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast. I used to play the first level over and over again when I was younger, not understanding how to progress but just loving the idea of shooting up Stormtroopers. As I got older and actually managed to complete the game, the story enthralled me, not least because I had been baffled by it to such an extent as a kid. The multiplayer was brilliant too, even against bots, and there is a fantastic depth to the customisation in this game.

3 – Knights of the Old Republic

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I am not normally a fan of RPGs, but KOTOR is the exception. The best thing about this game is that it is set so far before any of the Star Wars films are set that it can essentially create its own universe, having the Jedi be an Enclave of peaceful monks on Dantooine, the Sith a legion of soldiers who destroy planets with orbital bombardments, and the Galaxy an unknown place for your character to explore. This is like Star Wars as you have never seen it before…
And there’s a fantastic twist at the end. But again, no spoilers.

2 – Empire at War

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Addictive games are sort of cheating when it comes to ranking lists, because when I’m in the mood for a game of Empire at War I’m usually there until 4am. The Galactic Conquest mode is fantastic, allowing you to build your own fleet and defend planets as you attempt to seize control of every corner of the Galaxy. One of the best things about this game is the ability to choose whether or not you wish to personally take control of land or space battles, so if you want to just focus on space then you can have the computer auto-resolve your land battles and turn the game into a fleet command simulator. Or, you can forego the space encounters and turn the game into a Star Wars version of Age of Empires. Speaking of which…

Honourable Mentions

Galactic Battlegrounds

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Shockingly, I didn’t have this as a child. Despite putting countless hours into Age of Empires II: The Conquerors in my younger years, I didn’t realise there was a Star Wars version, which is strange since it uses the same engine and you’d think that searching for cheats and secrets about AoEII would have led me to encounter something about Galactic Battlegrounds. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case, probably because very few people even remember that this game exists anymore, which is a shame.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (DS Port)

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Bit of an odd one here, but this is another Star Wars game I used to play a lot as a child and it’s actually quite good, the side-scrolling 2-D sections when playing as the Jedi remind me somewhat of beat-em-up games that you find in arcades, until the game suddenly shifts to a fully 3-D space battle simulator. The only thing that really brings this game down is the boss fights, which mostly boil down to memorising the enemy attack patterns and whacking them when they’re vulnerable.

Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords

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The problematic little brother. Of course, this game was not made by BioWare, and was actually created by Obsidian, who unfortunately shipped the game but forgot to put most of the things they had made onto the disk. Using mods this game can be returned to its original state but the release version remains a broken mess with too much content missing.

1 – Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

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The undisputed King of Lightsaber Combat. Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy lets you take control of a budding young Jedi apprentice with a great deal of raw untapped power. Thanks to massive upgrades from the previous game, Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast the already fantastic sandbox is bolstered with new moves, new force powers, new enemies, new vehicles and even new types of lightsaber to use: double-bladed and duel-sabers. Overall, this game builds on all the successes of its predecessors by refining the already damn fine lightsaber combat system and telling a well-crafted, self-contained story.

 

Top Ten PilotRedSun Videos

At this point, you might be wondering, ‘Who is PilotRedSun?’ or you might be among the fortunate few to have come across his Youtube channel, either way, I implore you to watch these videos, since they are some of the strangest videos on the internet and are well worth checking out. I’ve chosen my top ten PilotRedSun videos based on my personal viewing experience, which involved being introduced to the channel about 4 years ago when PilotRedSun was still a small channel and he hadn’t even released his album, ‘Achievement‘, which has gone on to be well received by fans and garnered nearly 400,000 views by 2018.

10 – Wain Stop

Number 10 on this list is a more recent entry into the PilotRedSun pantheon but it perfectly encapsulates everything that a good PilotRedSun video is. It uses bizarre, disjointed and crudely-designed animation, the plot or purpose of the video is totally unexplained to us, it is presented in a format which is at first charming but then becomes somewhat disturbing, only to truly baffle us by the end with its sudden shift of setting and tone. The ‘music’, if you could call it that, is the only thing that really lets this video down, and that’s because – there isn’t really any. The sound effects are incredible, and evocative if a little tinny, but this video doesn’t contain an example of a classic PilotRedSun tune, so we will move on.

9 – Casino Night

 

Another beautifully creative and potentially disturbing video from two years ago that continued the somewhat-recurrent theme in PilotRedSun videos of having a bright red dragon-like ‘fiend’ involved somehow in the ‘plot’ of certain videos, Casino Night perfectly marries casino and gambling imagery with one of PilotRedSun’s tunes, also called Casino Night, that is track 3 of his album, ‘Achievement’. The plot is simple – a young man goes into a casino to try and win some big cash. After failing to win anything on the slot machines, he tries one of the card games, despite the warnings of the green man at the table that ‘the house always wins’. I won’t spoil the sublime ending, but it doesn’t really come as much of a shock. Also, the fiend’s ‘voice’ sounds awesome.

8 – Grinch’s ultimatum

The second of two Christmas-themed PilotRedSun videos that were released on Christmas Day of their respective years, Grinch’s ultimatum demonstrates how a simple melody can perfectly harmonise with the dynamic of a video. The animation perfectly syncs its tone and plot events to the changing nature of the music, right up until the magnificent ending. The message of Grinch’s ultimatum is clear – be true to who you are. When a benevolent-looking Santa magically slides into your room, and offers you the choice between eternal sainthood and perpetual grinchdom, go with your gut and take the path that best reflects yourself. Although you may have doubts, eventually your true meaning will become clear to you.

7 – video for silverman

Simply put, video for silverman is a depiction of a battle between Vegeta and Mewtwo, created as part of a ‘compilation collab’, according to the description. Regardless, what follows is a hilarious example of how limitations in animation can create some truly outstanding results, particularly what happens to Vegeta’s head whenever he talks. The music of this video at a glance is seemingly simplistic, and yet upon closer inspection it is actually quite a complex melody, that intensifies as the video progresses leading up to the explosive conclusion.

6 – dogowner

Another example of the fantastic music used in Pilot’s videos, although unfortunately the track from this video is not on the album. This video marks another appearance of the dreaded ‘fiends’ in Pilot’s videos, although this one seems much less malevolent and certainly more animal-like than the human-sized fiends that appear in other videos. Dogowner has a simple plot – a bloke sits down to watch some Shark Tale on TV with his best pal, when an interloper attempts to invade his abode. Naturally the dog has a thing or two to say about that, since the owner sits there helplessly meaning the dog has to do all the work. I wonder if Pilot had been watching too much Wallace and Gromit.

5 – preschool bully

Definitely one of the stranger PilotRedSun videos out there, preschool bully tells a simple story about a small kid who doesn’t want his sweets taken off him. This was actually the first PilotRedSun video that I ever saw, and it seems hard to imagine now that this ridiculous animation that is only fourteen seconds long would open up a formidable can of worms. Despite seeming like a disjointed event that you would witness in a dream, preschool bully provokes a pang of sympathy for the poor child at the table – maybe it is based off a true story?

4 – Garfielf

Undeniably this is PilotRedSun’s most popular video, with over 7 million views as of January 2018. which is a shame since it is a drastic deviation from his standard video style. Rather than a short animation with a confusing premise, this video is quite long – over a minute, which is long for a Pilot video. Garfielf also has minimal animation, mostly consisting of stills that play over the voice commentary (created using a text-to-speech instead of Pilot’s usual iconic voice), and intense dis-chordal music. The video itself is hilarious, like most Pilot videos, and I suppose it proves that trying something new from time to time occasionally pays off.

3 – IPAlien

‘An Alien walks into a bar’ might sound like the opening to a terrible joke, but in this video it opens a ridiculous chain of events that end up with Earth being conquered by alien forces. Why? Well, its over a beer – a space beer to be precise. An interesting ‘Easter Egg’ is actually visible in this video, just as the bartender is about to slide the Alien his cold one, if one looks to the far wall next to the ‘office’ a painting of a fiend is visible on the wall – clearly the owners of this odd establishment (which also has a billboard on the roof that says ‘Waste Time, And Money’) have interesting taste in pin-ups. Another interesting detail that never fails to make me laugh is the fact that the Alien’s ship is clearly marked ‘Unidentified Flying UFO’, just in case you were confused (but then again, when watching these videos, who isn’t?)

2 – quaker’s oats

The most interesting thing about PilotRedSun’s videos is their tone. Through the use of music, sound effects and voices Pilot is able to make his seemingly inane and totally off-the-wall videos take on tones of extreme malevolence, or, in this case, cheerfulness and warmth. The music used is a section of the tune Bodybuilder from ‘Achievement’, that is played over Mr. Quaker’s calm and composed morning advertisement for his exquisite oats. The overall message of this video is unclear, except, perhaps, to go and eat more Quaker’s Oats?

Honourable Mentions

nesquik rabbit

One of the shortest and earliest PilotRedSun videos, this was another of the ones that I was first shown when being introduced to his channel. What is truly a miracle is that I actually carried on watching videos after this one, as it seems to exist to be little more than an animation test for a gif, but who knows. Again, the tone of this video is odd – it isn’t exactly benign, but its not exactly malevolent either, but I certainly wouldn’t trust this bunny around the children he claims to ‘deliver the goods’ for…

christmas story (scroge duck)

This would have been a lot higher on the list were it not for the second Christmas Special, Grinch’s ultimatum, totally blowing it out of the water – but christmas story (scroge duck) stands in its own right as a classic PilotRedSun video – from the jarring animation, the awkward sound effects, the iconic voice and of course the fantastic music. The tune at the end of this video is Snow Day from ‘Achievement’, although unfortunately it only plays the first thirteen notes before the video ends.

Rocko’s Gaming Tragedy

One of the few PilotRedSun videos to actually use capital letters in its title, Rocko’s Gaming Tragedy takes the form of a ‘lost episode’ of the popular cartoon show ‘Rocko’s Modern Life’ that ran on Nickelodeon between 1993 and 1996. I have never actually seen a real episode of this show, although from what I hear from people who have seen both the original show and this video, the two are barely distinguishable from one another. Nobody quite knows how PilotRedSun was able to so perfectly capture the distinct animation style of Rocko’s Modern Life, nor how he managed to get his hands on the script for the lost episode, but undoubtedly Nickelodeon paid him to carry on the legacy of one of their flagship shows.

And finally, number one is…

1 – Pringle Advert

Another of PilotRedSun’s most popular videos, with over 1,170,000 views, is pringle advert, which continues another loose ‘theme’ of PilotRedSun’s videos whereby he will use the image of a popular brand mascot but give it an unexpected and sometimes malevolent twist. While the Pringle Man isn’t quite as horrifying as the Hamburger Helper mascot seen in another Pilot video, the malevolence of the Pringle Man is much more subtle, which is many ways makes it very creepy. The music and general look of this guy is bad enough, but after a calm introduction the video takes a turn when Pringle Man realises that nobody actually likes Pringles. Give the video a watch, you will not regret it.

And that’s my list of Top Ten PilotRedSun videos! Leave a like if you enjoyed, comment to say whether or not you’d ever seen any Pilot (and, indeed, if you are planning on watching any more now or if you want to run as far away as possible) and remember, for some cool tunes, check out PilotRedSun’s album, ‘Achievement’,

and there are compilations of his music online, like this fanmade album.
Also, check out PilotRedSun’s tumblr for updates on his art and music.

 

Top Ten Tunes from the Halo Soundtrack

The Halo soundtrack is truly wonderful, not only does it do its job of creating an ancient, powerful and mysterious feeling when exploring the varied environments of the various Halo games, the soundtrack makes traversing open landscapes, tight corridors and winding, labyrinthine battlefields both on and off of Halo rings all the more atmospheric and enjoyable thanks to the fact that the soundtrack is so rich and masterfully crafted by the fantastic Martin O’Donnell.

However, although the soundtracks for all the Halo games can be considered masterpieces, there are certainly some standout tracks that are iconic and perfectly suited to their moment in gameplay, but, also stand out as excellent pieces of music in their own right. These are in no particular order until the top three, and some may surprise you.

Charity’s Irony – Halo 2 Anniversary Soundtrack

This is a remastered version of the final section of the High Charity Suite from the original Halo 2 Soundtrack, that plays in-game during the opening segment of the mission, High Charity. The focus is clear here – this is the theme for the Covenant Holy City, which ironically plays in-game just as the city begins to fall to the Flood, and another reason why I like it so much. The tune itself is a fantastic electronic track that makes encounters tense but is actually very intricately constructed, like all of the best Halo tunes, including electronic tones and choral singing for an iconic Halo feel.

Bravery, Brotherhood – Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Soundtrack

This is a remastered version of Brothers in Arms from the original Halo: Combat Evolved soundtrack, and continues the legacy that its ancestor set down of having a Brothers in Arms variant in almost every Halo game, getting more bombastic each time. This represents the culmination of the evolution of the Brothers in Arms melody that was built upon in Follow our Brothers, the version that appeared in Halo 3. This version crescendos with the most energetic vigor yet, and hopefully the next time this track gets remastered they will continue this pattern.

Heretic, Hero – Halo 2 Soundtrack

Heretic, Hero is essentially the Arbiter’s theme in Halo 2, which is contestable with several other tracks on the soundtrack – Respite, from the High Charity Suite, or Reclaimer (ironically). The difference with Heretic, Hero is that it always plays during tense encounters with longevity, such as the section with the Wraith tank in the last level of Halo 2, or the Gondola section that the Arbiter traverses to recover the Sacred Icon. Either way, Heretic, Hero is an excellent ambient soundtrack that combines heavy, industrial tones with choir and light guitar riffs, and the name of the song reflects the Arbiter’s status as a branded Heretic on a mission to save his race.

Spirit of Fire – Halo Wars Soundtrack

For a main theme, Halo Wars could have done much worse. Spirit of Fire sums up Halo Wars in one piece of music – it harks back to the pre-classic era of Halo whilst also creating an atmosphere of isolation and desperation as the crew of the actual Spirit of Fire are left drifting in space. The piano segments are chilling and the piece is generally considered to be one of the most moving pieces to come from the Halo Wars subgenre of Halo Soundtracks. Undoubtedly, it is one of my favourite re-imaginings of the Halo theme and holds a rightful place as a unique theme for a wholly unique game.

Requiem – Halo 4 Soundtrack

Whilst Halo 4’s soundtrack is not one of my favourites, by any stretch of the imagination, it cannot be said that it was completely devoid of music that sounded truly Halo-esque. Of the best tracks on the Halo 4 soundtrack like Arrival, 117, Green and Blue, Solace, Wreckage and Mantis, none really compares to Requiem for me. Not only does it perfectly capture the feeling of wonder when emerging from the cave near the start of Halo 4 and seeing, for the first time, the unique floating metal structures of the Dyson Sphere known as Requiem, but the song itself is so mellow, so interesting. It sounds almost like the opening theme to a David Attenborough documentary series, if not for the periodic haunting-sounding electronic pangs. Overall, highly atmospheric, and certainly very Halo.

In Amber Clad – Halo 2 Soundtrack

A remake/re-imagining of Under Cover of Night from the Halo: Combat Evolved Original Soundtrack, which is itself a fantastic track, In Amber Clad provides for me what I call ‘the Halo 2 effect’, in that the unique style of Halo 2’s art and sound design makes each piece of the soundtrack truly unique from other soundtracks within Halo in that the atmosphere that Marty O’ Donnell seems so adept at creating and infusing into his soundtracks is very much alive and well here. The tune is nostalgic and hopeful but puts its own twist on the Under Cover of Night melody, combining several electric guitars with the preexisting ever-present bass line. A great little detail is the guitar lingering at the end after all the other instruments have stopped, a detail that was tragically removed from this song’s remake, Trapped in Amber.

Epilogue – Halo 2 Soundtrack

As far as Epilogue’s go, Halo 2’s is both extensive and simultaneously nonexistent. As far as the cliffhanger ending goes, most people agree now that the game earned one, and in hindsight this made Halo 3 all the better. But players at the time did complain that Halo 2 does seem to just cut off right when stuff starts to get good. You kill Tartarus as the Arbiter, thereby preventing him from activating the Halo ring, and yet Master Chief is left plummeting towards Earth on a Forerunner ship controlled by the Covenant, and then the game just ends. But it does have an Epilogue, and according to this tune that includes the first song of the credits, a fantastic continuation of the motif heard at the start of Impend from earlier in the Halo 2 soundtrack that features poignant guitar melodies performed by none other than John Mayer, who remained deliberately uncredited for 10 years so that he could keep the secret between his friends.

Perilous Journey – Halo: Combat Evolved Soundtrack

Perilous Journey is a truly iconic piece, not least because it plays during three of the best levels of Halo: Combat Evolved, as well as being remastered twice and featuring in one of Halo 3’s best levels. But despite appearing more than most tunes on the Halo soundtrack and across multiple games, this track never gets old. It fosters a feeling of adventure and inspires hope during difficult encounters such as the battle with the Zealot on the snowy bridge during Assault on the Control Room, or during the vehicle section of Halo 3’s The Ark. This track has been remade into First Step for Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and was remade and included as Make Them Pay in the Farthest Outpost suite of the Halo 3 Soundtrack, truly a testament to its memorability and standout quality as a tune.

Covenant Dance – Halo: Combat Evolved Soundtrack

This tune is brilliant, and it is a shock to me that it was never re-released in any other Halo game. This does mean that the bond between this tune and its origin game is very strong, since hearing it brings back memories exclusive to Halo: Combat Evolved. Thanks to Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, a remaster of this tune does exist in the form of Choreographite, and although that tune is great in its own right nothing quite beats the original for nostalgia factor alone. The best thing about this piece is the sudden and unexpected shift halfway through from a generic-sounding Halo drum-and-choral track to a groovy electronic dance track. What makes this piece particularly memorable is that it plays when you finally reach the control room in Halo: Combat Evolved’s Assault on the Control Room, and the electronic part kicks in just as the door opens to reveal a Zealot and his advance guard, heightening the tension and enjoyment factor of the encounter.

Honourable Mentions

Asphalt and Ablution – Halo 3: ODST Soundtrack

Despite the fact that this is the only track from the Halo 3: ODST Soundtrack that features on this list, it cannot be understated how fantastic the soundtrack for this game is. Despite the fact that, like all Bungie Halo games, this soundtrack was composed by the one and only Martin O’Donnell, the whole album sounds nothing like anything that has ever been in Halo before or since. For one, the welcome introduction of the saxophone as a regular recurring instrument in this soundtrack gives every track a dark, moody noir feeling, which fits perfectly with this game’s setting in an abandoned futuristic metropolis drenched in rain at night time, and the slower pace signifies the increased difficulty and setup of encounters in the game, since in this game you are no longer a super-soldier. If you’re a fan of night-time ambience, this track is for you.

Under Cover of Night – Halo Combat Evolved Soundtrack

Remade as In Amber Clad that was included on this list, as well as Cloaked in Blackness for Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Under Cover of Night is different enough from its progeny that it stands out for more reasons than it just being the original. Playing at iconic parts of levels like Truth and Reconciliation and Two Betrayals, this track has the legitimate Halo identity that makes it so well-loved by fans.

One Final Effort – Halo 3 Soundtrack

Of all the bombastic versions of the Halo drums that exist, this is one of the best. Whilst the Halo Theme has been re imagined in dozens of different ways across almost all of the Halo soundtracks, from outside-the-box wind-chime atmosphere of Halo: Combat Evolved’s Ambient Wonder to the more traditional style yet non-traditional fusion with 117 in Halo 5’s The Trials, none can beat the simplistic yet effective application here in Halo 3’s One Final Effort. Played during one of the most memorable moments in the game, the climactic battle with a pair of Scarabs, this track has certainly made an impact.

This Glittering Band – Halo 2 Anniversary Soundtrack

A fantastic remastering of Leonidas that was included in the Delta Halo Suite of the original Halo 2 Soundtrack, This Glittering Band is played during the gondola ride over a gleaming lake in the sunshine as Covenant Banshees and Drones assault your vehicle from all angles. The tune is possibly more commonly recognised as being part of the Three Gates section of the Halo 3 soundtrack, as that too was a remake of Halo 2’s Leonidas. Being an Anniversary version, This Glittering Band incorporates elements from both the original and the Halo 3 version of its predecessor to find a perfect balance.

Peril – Halo 2 Soundtrack

One of the standout tracks of the Volume One CD of the Halo 2: Original Soundtrack, Peril plays during two distinct parts of Halo 2 – first during the opening section of the level Delta Halo following the iconic drop-pod sequence, and second during the level High Charity in one of the outdoor garden sections of the Covenant Holy City of High Charity. Oddly, this track also featured in an episode of ‘Top Gear’, during James May’s review of a Jaguar XF in 2007, a full 3 years after the soundtrack came out. Guess someone was a fan. Overall, this piece uses rapid staccato strings to create a tense atmosphere making encounters more suspenseful.

And finally, the number one is:

Genesong – Halo 2 Anniversary Soundtrack

It should not come as a surprise to anyone that Halo 2 was big enough to get Steve Vai to record songs for the soundtrack during the development for its original release in 2004. Back then, Halo 2 was as big as it gets. The game revolutionised gaming online for consoles with the introduction of a functional matchmaking system that was unparalleled for its time and paved the way for hundreds if not thousands of other console shooters and games of all kind to follow in its wake. The game was being hyped up to the extent that it outperformed most big-budget movies of that year, and was considered by news outlets at the time to be bigger than any movie. Steve Vai, and all the other artists who contributed to Halo 2 such as Breaking Benjamin, John Mayer, Hoobastank and Incubus as well as producer Nile Rodgers, took the project immensely seriously, and Breaking Benjamin didn’t even receive payment for their work on the soundtrack, doing it for free as the publicity from having one of their songs in Halo 2 would pay for itself. This was a point where Halo was huge not only in the gaming world but in the mainstream media as well.

However, times have changed, and Halo is not the franchise that it once was. What is surprising, however, is how dedicated its fans still are to the games, the lore and the production of Halo and its tributaries. 10 years after recording one of the best songs on the Halo soundtrack, Reclaimer, Steve Vai returned to Halo 2’s soundtrack for the Anniversary version and recorded several tracks, including this remastered version of Reclaimer known as Genesong. Steve Vai’s contribution to the soundtracks of both versions of Halo 2 cannot be understated, particularly since he contributed to the excellent Mjolnir Mix and Gungnir Mix formed the main theme for Halo 2 and its remake. Truly, the Halo Theme and tracks like Genesong represent the pinnacle of not just the Halo Soundtrack, but video game soundtracks in general.

Do you agree with this list? What’s your favourite song from the soundtrack? Leave your thoughts in the comments and leave a like if you enjoyed. See more: