An Introduction to the Companion Cube 343 Spark
POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD -- SKIP THIS CHAPTER TO AVOID THEM!
About Terminals: the terminals you encounter in Halo: CEA are a little different than those you encountered in previous games. To start with rather than being computer database access points or providing you with map additions, these give you access to the personality of a companion cube who, if you have played the previous games, is instantly familiar to you!
The reason that they feel familiar to you has to do with the fact that he appeared in the previous games and because the theme from the terminals is also the theme that was used in the series of commercials and web videos about the upcoming sequel to the series, Halo 4...
Actually I should not be phrasing this like I am, because if you have not played the previous games or seen those commercials or the videos then the character of the companion cube -- whose name is 343 Spark -- is not really familiar to you at all, is he?! Well, if he is not, then hey, he is now!
The important thing for you to understand here is that the Companion Cube is actually one of the Easter Eggs in the game in that it -- and all of the Terminal Entries -- represent messages and information about events that occurred long ago with the destruction of the Installation 04 -- which is sometimes called Alpha Halo, and is one of the series of gigantic ring worlds (which are actually the Halo Array from which the series gets the name and not Mass Effect Launchers which is a totally different game and has nothing to do with Halo!) that were left behind by the enigmatic, technologically-advanced, and apparently extinct Forerunners. Hmm, I can see how you might get confused here...
Your first Terminal
The First Terminal
I am not going to go into too much detail on this because there is a chance you have not played the previous games, in which case revealing too much detail here would potentially ruin elements of those games for you, which would suck because they are really good games -- but it is sufficient to say that the Alpha Halo, the Companion Cube known as 343 Spark, and the Flood are all very important elements of the next game in the series, but I would seriously be an asshole if I told you WHY.
If you are like me -- or for that matter any gamer who is a fan of the Halo Series -- Halo 4 is going to be a pretty important event and game release for you. That being the case, and assuming for the moment that you have het to play all of the games, your best tactic is to play or replay the previous games (whatever applies) in proper game order so that when Halo 4 is released you are ready to absorb the story and be properly stunned, shocked, excited, and entertained! My best advice to you is to play the games in the following order:
(1) Access the Xbox LIVE Marketplace and download the Application Halo: Waypoint;
(2) Install and patch Halo: Waypoint so that it is ready for use on your 360;
(3) Play the game Halo: Reach (the Prequel Game to Halo: Combat Evolved);
(4) Play Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition (this game);
(5) Play Halo 2 (for Windows Vista – the Xbox Version does NOT have Achievements);
(6) Play Halo 3;
(7) Play Halo 3: ODST;
(8) Play Halo Wars
Technically you do not have to install and use Halo Waypoint to do this but really you should because in addition to being a very cool app in its own right, Waypoint is a sort of amalgamation of all of the Halo games from the series that rewards you for being such a major fan! What do I mean by that?
Well, when you first access Waypoint after installing and patching it, you are treated to the following features:
The What's New Section -- a video you can play that tells you what is new and what is happening in the Halo Universe with a focus on the most recent games and events. It tells you about any scheduled events that are coming up, and it wishes you a Happy Holiday (if there is a Holiday near enough) which is always nice!
One Click left using the Joystick or the D-Pad gets you your Character Card -- which instantly shows you your Halo Waypoint Rank, Level, and current XP -- for example I am Level 32, and my rank is Sergeant Grade 2, and I have 4451 of 12500 XP.
Clicking on the card itself gives you a very detailed display of all of the recent Achievements that you have unlocked in ALL of the Halo games! Not only that it gives you the time and date, a graphical representation of the Achievement, and makes you feel spiffy!
This sub-menu includes selections for tracking any Custom Challenges issued by you or your mates, any Halo: Reach Challenges available with timers that tell you when they will end (and so how much time you have to complete them if you want to), your Halo: Reach Summary Statistics, and all sorts of game play stats about the different co-op and online versus games you have played, which has been preserved for eternity on the Halo Servers over at 343 Industries and how cool is that??
The selection that I find to be the most interesting is that the server keeps track of every kill and action you have made in the games and online that can be broken out by weapon! For example the DMR is my most often used weapon (no surprise there but then I have only played online a few times) and I have a Kill-to-Death Ration of 1.00 -- that's right mates, I have killed 6 times with the DMR, and I have died 6 times while armed with it LOL.
In the VS Tab you can see how you stack up against your mates who have any of the games that are online enabled, and what is more the display gives you a comparison of your level and XP and theirs along with comparative statistics like total cumulative lifetime BPR, K/D Ration, Wins, and Kill Count.
In viewing the Hall of Achievements I was surprised when I realized that the very large icons for each Achievement are the actual ones from LIVE but, in this larger format, I could actually SEE what they represented, and it turns out that the individual Skull Achievements actually make sense now that I can see what the symbols are for them!