Friendly AI combat dialogue/combat performance in Halo 2 VS Reach

Last night I gave the first three campaign missions in Halo 2 a whirl after having let my case catch dust for awhile. And I gotta admit, the differences I noticed kind of depressed me.

The thing that really struck me was that the Friendly Marines I picked up along the way during my battles were actually actively useful in fights, even on the heroic difficulty. Marines could frequently pull off head shots and put up a great enough volume of fire that a couple of them could help you bring an Elites shields down. Given a sniper or beam rifle, I could trust a Marine to occasionally take out an Elite every so often. I could even trust the Marines to be able to sucessfully drive a warthog around in combat as I either manned the gun or got into a highjacked Ghost. When I jumped onto the Scarab in the end of the Mombasa mission, I realized one reason I was able to fight the elites was because the Marines on the walk ways were distracting the Elites with long range BR fire.

At not point during the entire Halo Reach campaign did I think that entire Squads of Army troopers, or all of Noble Team were as useful to me in combat as 2-3 of those Halo 2 Marines were. In Reach you could never trust a member of Noble Team or a trooper to drive. It’d be suicidal. They might as well have gone back to Halo CE when the Marines weren’t programmed to drive a Warthog.

And combat dialogue the Marines in Halo 2 had. They’d say snappy, somewhat cheesy but at least memorable things in combat. They were responsive to things that happened around them in combat. Commenting when that jackal sniper got taken out, letting me know it was clear to move on. Making note of a head shot. Reacting very strongly to taking damage. Or when I exchanged a weapon with them. If I gave them a power weapon the Marines would be quite happy and visibly grin. If I gave them a weaker weapon they’d complain, forming an obvious frown. They’d have a wide range of different voices, allowing you to recognize different Marines just by listening to them in action.

This last bit might seem like a minor point, but one of the things that initially made me fall in love with Halo was the combat dialogue your allies shared with you. It was interesting and was so relevant to the situation that listening to it actually might be advantageous in combat. The Troopers and Noble Team talked, yes…but I can’t remember any kind of memorable thing they ever said. Nor could I really tell the difference between any of them in combat by listening to them.

Certainly nothing like that one Marine I was hiding behind a barricade with as we were pinned down by a swarm of Covenant space bugs armed with death rays. He looked over to me, a 7 foot armored cyborg and philosophically noted “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore”.

I’m not trying to be super nostalgic here, but as much as Halo 2 didn’t completley meet many of it’s promises, the stuff that it did do right it did phenomenally well. If there was anything I’d personally be looking for in Halo 4, it’d be that kind of verisimilitude and closeness that you shared with your AI allies in Halo 2. I don’t want a cast of half a dozen named NPC’s with melodramatic cinematics telling me they’re my trusted battle brothers and sisters, only for them to be nothing more than uncharacterized bullet sponges ingame.

I agree that Halo 2’s, and even Halo 3’s marines had better performance overall.

One thing that struck me however, is that we don’t ever really get to see army troopers in combat in Reach. They are only ever dropped off after a major battle (like in the mission Tip of the Spear). And in Long Night of Solace, once you exit your Sabre’s, the game spawns a couple of dead elite bodies after the marines drop down into the ship, seemingly to make you think they did something down there.

Lastly, in Reach you are supposed to feel overpowered by the Covenant, but that’s no excuse to have underperforming friendly AI. I understand that Bungie didn’t want Kat being a “super hero” but she is a Spartan, so they could have at least made her shoot accurately instead of just standing still in the middle of a battle. Same goes for the Army Troopers. All they ever do is stand in one spot or sit behind something the entire time.

At least for me the Marines in the Halo games only ever served as distraction and entertainment. Although I have to admit that they did get their fair share of kills if you gave them decent weapons. Got a sniper rifle with one or two bullets left? Make a Marine happy!

The thing which I noticed most about the AI in the first trilogy compared to Halo: Reach, was the degree of respect that they had for the player. Often, the would follow your lead. In sniping scenarios, they would always wait for you to take the first shot. In contrast, Jun just did whatever he wanted, which really spoilled that sniper mission for me. I think if 343 Industries make another level with AIs that involves a lot of sniping, they should take note not to create another AI like Jun. And if they do, then I will be forever grateful. :smiley:

I’ve played all the Halo campaigns and it seems to me that Halo 2 has the most extensive, and the most entertaining, dialogue of them all. Even after playing H2 many, many times, I kept hearing a new line from time to time.
In Halo CE, the Marines were, it seems to me, more competent than in the later installments. They were more masculine and cocky, and more dependable.
Of course, I dislike the tendency of allied AI in Halo mucking up things, especially in vehicular situations, as much as the next person. But their vulnerability adds a certain challenge to the campaign in the midst of shootouts on foot. It is a challenge to fight and hold your own ground while also keeping as much of an eye as possible on your allies. On Heroic, and especially Legendary, keeping allied AI alive is not easy. I always attempt it for ethical as well as practical reasons, doing in the games precisely as I’d do in a real-life war, embracing the spec-ops mentality and creed of always keeping the backs of the men next to you, and never abandoning comrades, fallen or otherwise. This is also a practical approach in that there is strength in numbers. But there is also that sense of satisfaction gained when you know that it was your skill, in movement strategy and shooting, that kept the team together.

But, yeah…dialogue was not particularly emphasized in Reach. It was more technical, less comical, and far less extensive than in Halo 2. And I think a reason for that is because the devs wanted a more serious, somber, dramatic tone and feel for the game. In a sense they achieved that.
But, no question, the battlefield humor and wit that characterizes H2 dialogue is no small part of what makes it a great campaign.

im going to have to agree with you.

in CE, the marines were funny, and with a couple of them able to deal out some effective damage on single elites, small numbers of grunts, maybe jackals.

in H2, again, some of the random taunts/jokes the marines came out with were awesome. and they had sometimes something usefull to say. at one point walking through a level i saw a couple of marines waitingg at a corner, i almost went running out as they said snipers had them pinned down at the end of the street, saving my life (only temporaraly, damn jackals!).

in H3 again they had some good 1 liners, but didnt seem to able to actualy do anything, but the ODSTs in H3… the first part of the arc, the two pelicans drop of a number of ODSTs each, on legendary on has red shoulder pads two have white, im not sure the significane of this except i always gave the red on my sniper… then swapped back for my rockets after the first two encounters, sure they fail hard at driving, but damn could those boys shoot. doing a double backflip with a 360 barrel roll while in the middle of a 720 spin… that red ODST layed wast to - 2 choppers, a chieftain, a shade and about 8 grunts… then he killed me when we crashed, but it was epic.

now we have ODST itself, the AI suck at driving, shooting, gunning in vehicles. everything, the only way to get any use out of them was to give them the rockets/sniper and remember where they were when they died.

in reach i was again disapointed in the AI, the covenant seemed very happy to flank, run from cover to cover, supress fire, aim for the face, throw grenades, and actualy have so sort of co-ordination… but the human AI, even the spartans (humanities best soldiers…) were little more than bullet sponges that died easily (except the spartans who just stood there getting shot, -Yoinking!- about it shooting about once or twice then ducking for cover for 5 minutes. noone could drive, the only time they fly is when they have to (as a taxi).

in halo 4, if the AI i have to work with are even twice as smart/capable as the AI in reach were in trouble. if they are half as capable as they were in H2 we will be in a good fight, and if they are as capable as they are in H2, i will be happy, that i dont have to do ALL the F ing work

i have to agree. i hope 343i doesn’t botch the friendly AI in halo 4 like bungie did in reach.

Agree. The Marine in Reach are uterly usless. Especially on Heroic/Legendary they can’t even stay alive more than 2-3 seconds. At least in CE/2/3 marine could held some ground.

> I agree that Halo 2’s, and even Halo 3’s marines had better performance overall.
>
> One thing that struck me however, is that we don’t ever really get to see army troopers in combat in Reach. They are only ever dropped off after a major battle (like in the mission Tip of the Spear). And in Long Night of Solace, once you exit your Sabre’s, the game spawns a couple of dead elite bodies after the marines drop down into the ship, seemingly to make you think they did something down there.
>
> Lastly, in Reach you are supposed to feel overpowered by the Covenant, but that’s no excuse to have underperforming friendly AI. I understand that Bungie didn’t want Kat being a “super hero” but she is a Spartan, so they could have at least made her shoot accurately instead of just standing still in the middle of a battle. Same goes for the Army Troopers. All they ever do is stand in one spot or sit behind something the entire time.

The only example I can think of would be in the end of the Alexandria mission where you and a bunch of troopers try to retake the missle batteries…well, YOU try to retake the missle batteries. The Troopers just sorta wander about with horrible path finding, and mainly not even firing upon the Covenant when they see them. Combined with weak, uncharacterized dialogue you can pretty much forget that any of the Troopers are even there.

As you said. They didn’t want Noble Team to do all the fighting for the player but…what we got was a feeling that all of Noble Team was pretty ineffectual in combat. They weren’t aggressive at all, were poor shots and had a limited rate of fire. It almost makes one wonder why Bungie invested this HUGE amount of cinematic time to Noble Team when ultimately speaking they’re a non factor in actual gameplay.

For example. Emile. All the promo material and cinematics we read about him make him look like a gungho loose cannon, ready to lose it and go berserk on his enemies in a blood bath. What does he actually do in gameplay? He hides thirty feet away from enemies, peppering them uselessly with his shotgun from out of range and bloody retreating should the enemy do him the favor of coming into effective range, not even offering a melee attack.

343 take note. It doesn’t matter how bold you tell me your character is. If they behave in a cowardly manner like that ingame, I’m just gonna think they’re wimps.

Halo CE had very competent marines. If only they could drive…

I truly cared about the marines in Halo’s CE through 3. The troopers in Reach, not one bit. The marines in CE through 3 had character and personality. They even interacted with each other. In Reach I felt like the troopers might as well have not even been there, for help in the fight or as characters.

In Halo: Reach, it’s very easy to kill an army trooper, even on Easy if I recall correctly. Whereas in Halo 1 and Halo 2, the marines had a lot of health on Easy. That and a lot of other changes tell me that army troopers are nothing more than cannon fodder.

Take the infinite battles on LNoS. The troopers charge in only to get killed. What they should have done is make it so that the troopers will try to follow you, like the marines did in Halo 1 (i.e. Truth and Reconciliation, Assault on the Control Room).

> Halo CE had very competent marines. If only they could drive…
>
> I truly cared about the marines in Halo’s CE through 3. The troopers in Reach, not one bit. The marines in CE through 3 had character and personality. They even interacted with each other. In Reach I felt like the troopers might as well have not even been there, for help in the fight or as characters.

I absolutely agree.

I’m currently playing the level Uprising in H2, and even the weak, scared Unggoy are more help in battle than the Marines or Noble 1 - 5 in Reach. Not to mention that they’re way more funny.

Ha, I love Halo 2’s Marines the most, I picked up so many curse words in Spanish through those guys.

> Ha, I love Halo 2’s Marines the most, I picked up so many curse words in Spanish through those guys.

That’s another thing that irked me in Halo 3. We lost the hispanic Marine! Where was Mendoza and Perez? The only accent variation we had in Halo 3 was Chips Dubbo our friendly Jarhead Aussie and by Halo Reach we lost him :frowning:

Why can’t we have Marines with Aussie and Hispanic accents? Or Russian accents? Or Swahili accents? Or Arabic accents? Or Chinese accents? This is supposed to be the United Nations Space command. Where’s the diversity?