“We are Forerunners. Guardians of all that exists. The roots of the Galaxy have grown deep under our careful tending. Where there is life, the wisdom of our countless generations has saturated the soil. Our strength is a luminous sun, towards which all intelligence blossoms… And the impervious shelter, beneath which it has prospered.”

They deserve every last brickbat

by | Jan 2, 2021 | Office Space | 0 comments

Remember how I posted up a screed about Microsoft’s latest round of idiocy the other day, in which I pointed out that Mr. Softy’s engineers generally treat you like a moron?

I’m sorry to say that this was not the last of my run-ins with Microsoft’s sheer stupidity.

As Longtime Readers know quite well by now, I am an AVID fan of the HALO series. And although 2020 was an absolutely miserable year in a lot of ways, that dumpster fire of a year did produce one VERY good thing. Last year we saw the release of HALO: The Master Chief Collection on PC, in full. And it was glorious.

Now, I’m not one to go about things by halves. Indeed, I am a big believer in the notion that “overkill is underrated”. So, when I completed HALO 4‘s campaign – three times – on PC, I then decided to finish off HALO 4: Spartan Ops.

For those who haven’t had the distinct pleasure of playing through that part of the game, it is quite something. The idea takes the best parts of the campaign and multiplayer experiences and fuses them together. That way, you have the endless sandbox of a multiplayer map and lots of challenging enemies to slaughter. But you also have an actual story to unravel and enjoy in the process.

Not everyone likes Spartan Ops, I know. Some HALO fans find the additional campaign material involving Sarah Palmer and the SPARTAN-IVs quite stupid. Palmer herself is easily one of the most disliked characters in the entire franchise. Many hardcore campaign fans find her to be an obnoxious, sarcastic, stupidly overpowered Mary Sue in a power suit.

Knowing what I do of the HALO Expanded Universe lore – and I know a CONSIDERABLE amount – I fully understand why people think that. And I agree with them. Commander Palmer should NOT be a primary character in the saga. A woman absolutely should not be leading combat teams the way she does. And her amazing lack of competence serves to bite her in the ass over and over again in the Spartan Ops storyline.

That being said… I actually quite enjoy the challenges involved in playing Spartan Ops. Those episodes are MUCH harder than the regular campaign – because you have to deal with vastly greater numbers of NPC enemies coming at you. When you die, you don’t restart from a checkpoint like you do in the campaign – you respawn and jump right back into the fight. And some of those episodes are HUGELY frustrating and incredibly difficult to complete.

But they are also very entertaining and fun to play. Once you know how to play those episodes properly, you can really enjoy them. Get yourself a real loadout, drop straight into the game, and absolutely SLAUGHTER your way through endless waves and hordes of enemies. It’s great, and I’ve never understood why Microsoft and 343i didn’t renew it for a second season.

So there I was, stuck in my hotel room under self-isolation rules (*eyerolls*) because of the endlessly stupid strictures of the Kung Flu. With little to do – or rather, plenty to procrastinate about – I decided to play through as much of Spartan Ops as possible. And I’d gone all the way through Chapters 1-5, no problems, lots of fun, incredible amounts of carnage in my wake.

Then I started up Chapter 6, Episode 1, booted into the game, hit “Start” and went to the load screen, and – got booted straight back to the application welcome screen.

What the hell just happened???

I tried launching the same episode several times – no dice. I then tried launching the next episode in the list – and that launched fine. So I figured it was some sort of serious bug that would be addressed in a future patch. And I then completed H4:SO Chapter 6.

Then I tried launching Chapter 7, Episode 1, and – exactly the same problem as before. And now I couldn’t play ANY of the episodes in that chapter – ALL of them failed to load. And other chapters didn’t run either, right on through to Chapter 8 and 9.

WTF was going on?!?

So I did a couple of web searches. And I found out pretty quickly what the problem was:

Figured it out—ANYONE WHO MIGHT COME ACROSS THIS WITH THE SAME PROBLEM:Just make sure campaign AND multiplayer are installed for Halo 4. Without multiplayer installed, some maps won’t install.Thanks for nothing, pals.

Un.F***ing.BELIEVABLE.

Try to wrap your head around what a boneheaded thing Microsoft did here. They didn’t have any problems including a bunch of maps with the first 5 chapters of Spartan Ops that DO NOT exist in the core campaign for HALO 4 – the Harvester and the Apex research facility, for instance, do not feature in the core game at all. But, in order to make your Spartan Ops game playable in later chapters, they lazily decided to include a bunch of maps in that second half of the season that can ONLY be loaded from the multiplayer part of the game.

So, simply in order to play your own game, you then have to install an additional 2.7GB of files and patches for Multiplayer, just for HALO 4, which a campaign gamer like me will NEVER play anyway.

This, my friends, is what Microsoft considers a “good” and “complete” product release.

Now obviously this isn’t the worst possible outcome. Being a campaign gamer, I just don’t care about all of the matchmaking bugs and broken features that so many HMCC players complained about so bitterly when the game was first released.

But the fact that Microsoft thinks that this is an acceptable way to release software, tells you everything you need to know. They don’t tell you how to fix issues that THEY THEMSELVES CREATED. They simply dump a bad product onto you, and then expect you to muddle your way through the shitheap that they built.

This problem wasn’t difficult to solve, fortunately. But it was a good reminder of the reasons why we all hate Microsoft. And I don’t think they’ll be improving their offerings anytime soon. They’re simply too heavily converged, too Indian, and too disinterested in actual customer service anymore.

God help us all if Bonnie Ross – the female head of Microsoft’s gaming division, or at least she was back in 2015 – gelds HALO Infinite and turns the legendary Master Chief into a quadsexual gender-swapped social justice warrior fighting against MUH PATRIARKEE!!!. If that happens, I’m DONE.

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